We're Off

 chicago is always a good idea - via Note To Self: The Print Shop:
We are spending the next 15 days in Chicago! Leo is getting baptized, we are watching friends getting married, throwing a bridal shower for my cousin, and spending a lot of time introducing Leo to his friends and family that haven't met him yet. 

It's going to be a busy, amazing, fun filled time - so we'll see you when we get back!


Weeknight Dinners

I loved everyone's input last week about the cost of groceries. It was really interesting to see that the majority of people are spending $150-200 a week, which really made me feel good!

Monday - Beet, Kale, and Goat Cheese salad

 I didn't use a recipe for this one, and just sort of went with what I thought would go well together. Inside the salad is kale, goat cheese, chicken, quiona, beets, and honey crisp apple. I served it with a Ceaser dressing.

Tuesday - Crock Pot Taco Salad
I loved this salad, and have it cooking right now for dinner tonight actually. I served it with a jalapeno ranch dressing, but this is the easiest dinner ever! Major win.

Wednesday - Pumpkin Turkey Chili

 We love this chili and it makes for great leftovers. We serve it with chips crumbled on top and greek yogurt. 

Thursday -  Greek Chicken Pitas

I do follow the recipe to make a homemade tzatziki sauce, but if you found a good pre-made option, this dinner would be even easier! 

Friday - Chicken Enchiladas

This is actually my mom's recipe...but it's just shredded chicken, diced green chilies, green salsa and cheese inside. Once it's baked, you pour over a mixture of chicken broth and cream for the sauce. I ended up freezing half the batch for dinner while I'm in Chicago for Joel. 

How do you meal plan?

I spend every Monday morning on Pintrest and Skinnytaste.com It takes me about an hour to go through and map out the week. I try to always serve some kind of salad during the week, and include one night of a soup or chili. 
For a while, I was cooking the same meals week after week, but lately I've been enjoying adding recipes to repertoire and testing new things. 

I'm also trying to get smarter about making a lot of things on Monday, and then stretching them for the week. Like, if my salad on Monday night calls for quiona, I try to find another recipe for that week that I can add quiona in. It's such a time saver if I can be strategic about it. 

Other than that, I try and get my meal planning, shopping, and prep work done on Monday's so that I can't back out of it as the week gets hairier and hairier!


Our Easter

Well, we started our Easter weekend by remembering what we did last Easter; announcing that we were expecting a baby! 

I still can't get over the difference 12 months can make. It just blows my mind that we are now holding a six month old!

This year marked probably one of the better Easters I can remember. 

We drove down to San Diego really early Saturday morning to spend the weekend with Joel's brother Andrew and his wife Corie and his parents that flew in from Chicago.  


As soon as we got there, we took the boys to the park to blow off some energy before their afternoon nap.  


Once they were up, the whole crew piled back into the cars and went to Stone Brewery for happy hour. 

It was the first time we had been there - and it is an awesome place. We laid on the grass drinking beers, and everyone's kids just ran around their big backyard fit with stones, creeks, and beautiful trees. 

 We were there at the most perfect time of the day, and it was such a relaxing way to hang out with everyone. Joel and I vowed to make it back there every time we go down to San Diego.


When we got home we had pulled pork sandwiches for dinner and as soon as the kids went to bed, got busy filling their Easter baskets and eggs. 


We were pretty proud of our handiwork even though Sulley or Leo could've cared less by our beautiful display! 

 We drank a few bottles of wine outside on their patio, played games, and crawled into bed way too late for my liking!

Sunday morning arrived really fast, but there was no rest for the wicked! We hit up 8am mass and were out of the house pretty quickly!

Leo didn't make it through the entire service, so Joel and I left "at halftime", and put him down in his pack and play back at the house. Once everyone was home, we had the older boys hide the eggs so that Sulley could go on a little hunt.

Which seemed like a good as time as any to start the mimosas

Once Leo was up from his nap, we let the little guys go town on their Easter baskets. Leo was actually into his plastic Easter eggs, so he got into the spirit of the day! 


It's going to be pretty incredible to watch these boys grow up together. They're just 11 months apart from each other, so forever they'll have a built in buddy which is pretty amazing. 


Corie made an incredible brunch spread so the group sat down outside to enjoy brunch together. 

We had such an amazing holiday weekend - and the best part was that we got to take Joel's parents back up to LA with us. They're going to spend a few days here and then fly back to Chicago with Leo and I (which is going to be amazing).


Leo - Month 6

Weight:   14lbs 8oz and 25.25" 
Nicknames: Leeman, Lee-Lee, Forest Boy, Weeward, Wee-whoa
Clothes: 6 and some 6-9mths. I can get you into 3-6months but they're too short so you look like you're rocking floods.
Sleep:  You're a great night time sleeper. You are sleeping in your crib with the help of the Merlin magic suit, and when we put you in your crib, we don't hear from you again until the morning. Naps are a little more unpredictable, but you give me 2 to 3 naps a day, and at least one long nap of around 2-3 hours! You also slept in a pack and play for a few nights this month while we had friends staying with us and you did awesome!
Schedule:  Not much has changed to your schedule except we are inching towards an earlier bed time.
wake up at 6:30...
6:30am feed
6:30-8:30am play
8:30-10:30am nap
10:45-1:00  play (maybe cat nap if we are in the car)
1:00 pm feed
1:00-2:30pm play
2:30-4:30pm nap
4:30pm feed
6:40pm bath
6:55 pm bottle
7:15pm bed

Health:  We took you into the doctor this month for a rash. The doctor wasn't really sure why or what it was, but it cleared up after 2 days. My guess is that it was a bit of a heat rash from a hike we took with you in the carrier. Beyond that, we are, and always will be, thankful for your perfect health! 

Crying: This month you'll cry if you get frustrated. If you want something, but can't get to it, or you want to be moved, you'll whine. You also will cry if we walk away from you, but we're trying to nip that in the bud! This month we have been begging for your little tooth to sprout and its stubborn! We can see it, feel it, and we know it bothers you but it just wont cut through! 

Feeding:  You've started to take an 8oz bottle of formula (Holle) before bedtime and its going really, really well! We transitioned very slowly, mixing an ounce or two into breastmilk before finally making the whole bottle formula. You're breastfeeding sessions have gotten much shorter too, which is crazy. We used to nurse for 30 or 40 minutes, and now it takes 10 or so minutes. 

Likes: You love people and for people to make goofy faces or sing funny songs to you. You reward everyone's antics with big, gummy smiles which just delights anyone who interacts with you. You love to be thrown into the air, tickled, and to roll off of mommy 100x a day. You really like anything that you can put into your mouth - but your favorite toys this month are your police car walker, your little computer, and the spinny toy that we attach to your bumbo at dinner time. 
Dislikes: You don't like to be set down, you don't like teething, and you don't like not getting what you want (but either do I, so I get it).
Milestones:  You started sitting this month!  At your doctors appointment at your 5th month birthday, I told the doctor you were really close, and literally the next day you started sitting on your own. You were pretty wobbly the first two weeks and we always had to have a crash pad behind you, but now, you are sturdy and stable. You still fall, but sometimes you manage to fall gracefully and sort of roll on to your tummy. Other times, your falls aren't so graceful but I'm trying not to make a big deal out of them so that I don't spook you! 
We also started using your Bob stroller for runs! It's been amazing for me to get a run in during the week, and your dad loves to take you on the weekend too. You're really chill while we run, and normally after about 20 minutes end up zonking out. 
Places You’ve Gone:   We didn't take any major trips this month, but you did get some time on the beach which was an adventure! We go on lots of outings throughout the week so you're a pretty great baby on the move!
Visitors: Our most notable visitors were Miss Lauren and Mr. Max who came to visit us from Colorado! I went to college with Miss Lauren and she just couldn't get enough of you. The first day you were a little whiney when they would hold you, but as soon as you warmed up you didn't mind their constant attention one bit!

Postpartum:  I'm inching a little closer to my pre-pregnancy weight. I'm about five pounds there and I'm hoping I'm even closer by your next month update. I'm going to leave you for a long weekend next month, and have to put on a bathing suit, so that's proving to be excellent motivation! 

Roscoe: You guys are buddies this month and nothing is making your daddy happier. You love to watch your dad play fetch with Roscoe, and you will watch Roscoe go chase the ball for hours. You've also started reaching out for Roscoe and trying to pet or pull his hair. Roscoe is really gentle with you and is chomping at the bit for you to start throwing his ball too.

Overall Leo, we are feeling so full of joy because you are in our lives. You are the biggest gift we've ever been given and our lives are forever changed for the better because of you. 


Easter Brunch

This weekend we are heading down to San Diego to spend Easter with Joel's brother Andrew and his wife Corie and their son Sulley. My in-laws are flying into San Diego (today actually), and then we will drive them up to LA to spend some time with us after Easter brunch.

The plan is to hang out at home Saturday, and then Sunday, attend mass, have an easter egg hunt, and dive into brunch.

Napkin folded into rabbit ears - so cute for an Easter table setting!:

I'm in charge of mimosas (duh), and my all time favorite brunch item - Cinnamon Blueberry French Toast. 

So good! Make this Cinnamon Baked French Toast the night before, pop in the oven in the AM, and delicious breakfast is ready!:  

This dish is perfect to take down to San Diego with us, because I'll pre-rip the bread, and have a container for the dry ingredients and a container for the wet ingredients and basically be done. I'll just assemble it when we get there and keep it overnight until its ready to be baked for brunch!  

Easter Eggs In A Brownie Nest:

This is the first year in four years that I'm not hosting Easter, and I'm actually excited to attend as a guest! 

The other thing I'm excited about is breaking out some spring outfits. Even though not 100% of my wardrobe is fitting the way I want, I'm ready for some skirts, lighter blouses, and open toed shoes. 

Park Ave. Skirt Blue:

Does your family dress up for holidays? Ours always has, and I'm going to continue the trend with my little family even though I feel like most people tend to be more casual for holidays than we used to.


Real Life confessions? rambles? thoughts?

::: I loved hearing about everyone's grocery bills and meal planning sessions. It's fascinating to me to see how people run the mundane parts of their lives (even though, meal planning and grocery shopping is actually pretty exciting for me). My favorite part of Cribs (remember that show?) was when you could take a peek into the fridge. I like seeing everyone's perfectly done up living room, but I reallllly want to look into your cabinets! 

::: Also, I ended up replying to comments on the actual post thread. I've been finding that a little bit easier than responding via email, but it sort of depends on the day. 

::: Leo is taking a formula bottle and night and I dropped my last pumping session. What does this mean? Well, it means that I only pump once a day now (!!!), and I'm able to actually freeze some of my milk so that I can leave him for more than a few hours a day. Plus, not having to pump at night is incredibly freeing. There have been many nights where I've had to go home to pump, or stop playing a board game with friends because I needed to pump, or hold off on a glass of wine until after I pumped....and now, I don't have to think about it as much. Being the only person to feed your baby is equal parts magnificent and overwhelming, so releasing some of that pressure feels awesome.

::: For the most part - minus a few things here and there - breastfeeding has been an overall very enjoyable experience for both Leo and I and I feel really lucky that I've been able to do so for six months, and hope to continue to do so for another six.

::: We FaceTime my mom and sisters at least three or four times a day. I know Joel thinks I'm crazy, but it honestly makes our days feel so much less isolating when we are home alone all day.

::: I just finished my first non-pregnancy/child-rearing book since January of last year - and ironically enough, it was all about babies. I can't escape it. It's an older book - Babyville by Jane Green - but I really enjoyed it. It's about 3 different women in their early thirties all at different stages of wanting, trying, having, or avoiding babies. I bought it at a library book sale for $2 dollars, but if you're looking for a light read, I would recommend it.

::: I feel like the older I get, the less I like people. Is that a horrible thing to admit? I consider myself fairly outgoing and social, and I truly like to be around people, but lately, I find that I have been actually liking fewer and fewer people. I think I'm starting to figure out qualities I truly enjoy in people, and being pickier with whom I invest in.

Arguments with housemates have literally condemned me to my room for the foreseeable future through fear of running into them and having to repeat the same argument another 50 billion times.:

::: I am obsessed with the Today show. If I'm home, I will watch from 7am-11am and then my TV goes off, but I love everyone on the show. Especially Willie, but that's a whole other topic. But what legitimately keeps me up at night is all of their off camera relationships. My theory this is week is that Natalie Morales really hates Tamron Hall.

::: I took Unisom when I was pregnant and had insomnia, but just a few weeks ago, I took it again after having trouble sleeping for a few nights and HOLY COW. I forgot what a full nights sleep without any interruption feels like. There is nothing more amazing than sleep!

::: I'm leaving next week for Chicago for almost 3 weeks and I haven't even started thinking about packing. I'm not quite sure why I'm not stressed, because I probably should be, but I think I'm just more excited than anything, and just want to throw a bunch of shit in my suitcase and go home! 

::: It helps too that my in-laws are coming into town this weekend. They are staying with us, and I intend to take advantage of their help and get everything done while they are here.

::: Do you know that at about the time Leo turned 4 months old people started asking me when we are going to have another baby? Holy shit, I'm not ready, and don't expect to be for another year or two.  I think 2.5 or 3 years between babes is ideal. I like the idea of having one child in diapers at a time.

::: And honestly, if someone could just hand deliver me a baby at 3 months old, I think I would have at least five or six kids. It's the pregnancy and newborn stuff that ain't so much fun!

::: I have turned into a full blown coffee addict! It started when I was pregnant because a few times a week I would treat myself to a decaf latte in the afternoon. Once I had Leo, that afternoon latte was not longer decaf. Well, now, it's become more than a few times a week, and more like 5 or 6 times a week! It's nice to end our long walks at Coffee Bean and a latte at 11am energizes me for the rest of the day.....and I just don't think its right to sacrifice my productivity

::: I finished Fuller House on Netflix (loved it), and moved on to Girls season 5 on HBOgo. Totally going from A to Z on that one, but I've been really enjoying watching a show on my ipad in the bath or in bed as a way to wind down and just chill out before going to sleep.

::: I'm going to my first Power Yoga class on Friday since B-Leo. I have a hard time spending the $30 for a class, but I'm not ready to reboot my Equinox membership because I just don't feel like I can get there enough just yet.

::: Although......they do have a kids club, so I may need to start seriously thinking about it. I think it'd be good for Leo to have other people watch him a bit during the week, because I'm already seeing a lot of tears when friends or family go to hold him! 

::: Joel has Friday off of work, which means we both have a short work week! I'm going to sneak in my yoga class, then we have Leo's 6 month check up (HOW?), and then we're going to have a liquid lunch to celebrate Leeman's half year birthday! Like the good parents we are ;)


Weeknight Dinners & Cost of Groceries

We had another solid week of meals at home. 

Monday: Grilled Chili Lime Chicken Fajita Salad

We used jalapeno ranch as a dressing and it was perfect. This salad made for great lunches for the week too. 

Tuesday: Salmon Cakes
The recipe calls for diced peppers which I omit.  

Wednesday:  Wasabi Steak Salad
I couldn't find a good wasabi dressing, so I tried to make my own with wasabi sauce, greek yogurt, and olive oil. It wasn't horrible, but if you can find a wasabi dressing, it would be worth it to have it pre-made.

Thursday/St.Patrick's Day: Corned Beef and Cabbage

Saturday: Stuffed Meatballs

These never disappoint and I ended up making a double batch and freezing some for Joel while I'm in Chicago next week. 

Ok.....so now that that's out of the way, let's chat about the cost of groceries. Below is my receipt for our week of groceries [excluding the Corned Beef night which ended up adding an additional $26 dollars to our week].

We came in this week at $130 which is actually a little on the low end for me. Most of the time I spend about $150 on groceries, which will make us about five dinners with leftovers. 

I have found that Trader Joe's is the cheapest store for us, but I'll often have to make a trip to a nicer store for seafood or random things that Trader's wont have....like sage or roasted red peppers.

We try to keep dining out to a minimum which I know helps keep our food budget on the lower side, but I still feel like we spend buckets of money on food. I would venture to guess between Trader Joe's, Target, and Bristol Farms (were we buy wine and specialty items), we spend at least $200 dollars a week. 

I try to cook as healthy as possible, and keep pre-packaged [aka cheaper food] out of our house, which as a result does end up driving our costs up, but yowza! I get major sticker shock week after week!

Is that about the same for where you live? Would love to know your thoughts on this - so dish ;)


Five on Friday

 ::: 1 ::: 
We had a really fun St. Patrick's Day. Leo and I delivered treats to Joel's office, and then I met up with a girlfriend for a quick mid-day green beer! As I was walking to meet her in Beverly Hills, Leo and I walked past a bunch of chefs walking in the middle of the street. I thought it was like a flash dance or something, but it turned out to be Wolfgang Puck filming a commercial.

Snapchat name is: tshields622

::: 2 :::  

And we had to have the traditional corned beef and vegetables for dinner! We took a short walk with Joel when he got home from work, and then decided to put Leo down for bed before we indulged. We normally have Leo sit with us at dinner, but it felt like a treat to be able to just indulge in the goodness that is corned beef! 

Also, pro tip from my girl Mal - don't use much water. I added about a cup, and the recipe calls for 4. 

 ::: 3 :::
I'm going to have to stop indulging around here in a big way because I'M GOING TO MEXICO! 

My birthday happens to land on Mother's Day, so I'm double dipping and deciding to fly the coup! I'm leaving my boys (my sister is flying out to help Joel) and heading south to stay at my parents condo in Punta Mita. I know I'm going to miss Leo more than I can even imagine, but I also know its really good for both of us to get used to spending some time apart. Andddddd sleeping in, taking naps at the pool. reading a non-parenting book, and noshing on chips and guac for three days straight doesn't sound too shabby either.

::: 4 :::

Oh, and Leo told me that he is  pro "mom having a break and too many Corona Lights".

::: 5 :::
We've got a pretty low key weekend on the books. We're staying in tonight and stocking the freezer a bit, getting in some exercise, and hopefully seeing some friends on Sunday. I'm actually looking forward to taking it easy this weekend and just hanging out with my boys. 



Thursday Thoughts: St. Patty's Style

Happy St. Patty's Day! 

Every "first" with Leo is more fun for us, so we're trying to make fun traditions along the way. Tonight we'll be making corned beef and celebrating our Irish heritage with my cousin Erin and her husband Danny.

We are dropping off these St. Patty's cookies we made yesterday to Joel's office, and I'm really hoping that my mint bars turn out too. I had to refrigerate them overnight, so today we will find out if they are as good as they look!

My Dad is 100% Irish, so growing up, my sisters and I all took Irish Step Dancing. We were pretty serious about it for a good couple of years, but none of us had all that much talent, so by the time it got uber competitive, we bowed out. This was the only photo I could find on my computer of our dancing days....#75 is my middle sister Hannah, and one of our best friends Bridget that danced with us.


I think this picture was taken down in Washington D.C. at a dance competition if my memory serves me. We would have to spend the night before the competition in aggressive hair curlers to pull off the traditional Irish Step Dancer hair-do that was part of the costume.  

Based on this picture....it looks like nowadays they are dancing with really bad wigs.....

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