Asian Chicken Bowls

Nine times out of ten, I will choose Asian food over any other type of cuisine. If we are going out for a nice-ish dinner, hibachi is where it’s at. Take out? Chinese. Any day, anytime, anywhere? Sushi or Thai.

I’m always experimenting with different Asian recipes, but this one was exceptionally good. Even my pickiest eater devoured it! It doesn’t hurt that dinner was on the table in about 25 minutes (and only that long because of the rice!).

Asian Chicken Bowls

Ingredients:
2 tsp sesame oil
1 lb ground chicken
3 tbsp soy sauce
2 tbsp hoisin sauce
1 tbsp sweet chili sauce
sesame seeds, for garnish

Directions:
Heat sesame oil in a large pan over medium-high heat. Add ground chicken and cook until browned. Add soy sauce, hoisin sauce, and sweet chili sauce. Stir until the chicken is well coated. Serve in bowls over rice (I served over basmati rice).

Chicken Piccata

I never actually tried chicken piccata until planning our wedding. We went to a meeting with a potential caterer to do a taste test and they prepared samples of their most popular foods for us to try. We ended up using them to cater our wedding, mostly because of that chicken piccata. I wondered why I waited 20-something years to try this dish. Honestly, I don’t think anyone’s rendition could ever measure up to the one at our wedding, but this one comes pretty darn close.

I have been making this since right after we got married on a pretty regular basis. It’s not a super quick recipe, but it is simple. I serve this with pasta to make a full meal.

Chicken Piccata


Ingredients:
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, butterflied then cut in half
salt and pepper
1/4 c. flour + 2 tbsp. flour, separated
2 tbsp. olive oil
2 tbsp. butter, separated
1/2 c. chicken broth
splash of white wine
2 tbsp. lemon juice
2 tbsp. capers, drained and rinsed

Sprinkle chicken breasts with salt and pepper. Dredge in 1/4 c. flour. Heat olive oil and 1 tbsp. butter over medium high heat. Add chicken breasts to the pan and cook about 6 minutes on each side, or until browned. Set chicken breasts aside.

Add 2 tbsp. flour, 1 tbsp. butter, chicken broth, wine, lemon juice, and capers, and deglaze the pan. Cook until sauce starts to bubble. Add chicken breasts back to the pan and cook for about 2 minutes on each side. Serve immediately over pasta.

Egg Roll in a Bowl

I am pretty sure we’ve all seen some variation of this recipe floating around the internet recently. Eggr Roll in a Bowl, Deconstructed Egg Roll, Undone Egg Roll, Egg Roll Stir-fry…whatever floats your boat. I prefer Egg Roll in a Bowl, so that’s what I stick with! 😉

I’ve made this several times in the past month or so and every time, it’s been a pretty big hit, even with my littlest girl who is an extremely picky eater. It comes together super easily and I generally have everything I need in my pantry except the ground turkey and coleslaw mix. It’s definitely not much to look at, but it is so delicious and perfect for a simple weeknight meal.

Egg Roll in a Bowl

Photo Jun 05

Ingredients:
1 tbsp. olive oil
1 1/2 lb. ground turkey (or beef)
3 tbsp. sesame oil
1 tsp. ground ginger
1 tsp. black pepper
2 tsp. garlic powder
2 tsp. salt
1 tbsp. sugar
3/4 c. beef broth
1 bag of coleslaw mix
3 tbsp. soy sauce

Directions:

Heat olive oil over medium high heat. Add ground turkey and cook until browned.

Reduce heat to medium; add sesame oil, ginger, pepper, garlic powder, salt, sugar, and beef broth to the pan and mix well. Add the coleslaw mix and stir well.

Stirring frequently, cook until the cabbage starts to wilt. Add soy sauce and stir to coat mixture. Serve over basmati rice.

Dr. Suess Birthday Party

I have a love/hate relationship with throwing birthday parties for my kids. On the one hand, I usually host them at our house, and feel like everything has to be sparkling clean in order to be acceptable. Obviously, the junk drawer (everyone has one of those, right?!) and our closets have to be 100% organized before people come over. I mean, what if someone randomly needs a paper clip or gets chilly (in the middle of summer in Florida…) and needs to borrow a sweater? Hey, it could happen.

I’ve always been a crazy lady in the week or so leading up to any sort of event at our house, making sure everything is in it’s place, every speck of dust is gone, and every window is squeaky clean. That’s my biggest gripe about throwing birthday parties, but also, it’s just a lot of work planning the party itself.

For me, it starts out months in advance, getting both kids to agree on a theme (the girls’ birthdays are only a couple weeks apart and so far, we’ve done joint parties), which is pretty close to impossible. Then, I’m that mom…I can’t ever seem to find the perfect invitation, so I end up designing them myself on Photoshop. Next is deciding on the guest list, food, decor, cake, games, party favors…that list is never ending. In the week leading up to the party, there are at least 57 trips to the store, even though I swear every single time I’ve gotten every last thing we need. Throw in a few hours for the actual party, then we get back to work cleaning up the mess that 20+ kids just made running around our house. Fun!
But actually, believe it or not, despite all that…I think I love throwing my girls parties more than I hate it. They always have so much fun and the happiness on their faces always makes it 100% worth every minute and dollar spent.

One of my favorite parties we’ve thrown for the girls was Dr. Suess themed and I loved the end result!

Invitations

The invitations, I made on Photoshop. I searched Google and Pinterest, and combined and reworked several of my favorites to create one that worked for us.


Food

I always try to make the food work with the theme of the party. Again, Pinterest came to my rescue. We served party subs as the main course and mostly other snack-y foods.

  • Build Your Own Suess Salads– lettuce and a bunch of toppings for everyone to make their own
  • Poodle’s Noodles– pasta salad
  • Green Eggs and Ham– rolled up deli ham and deviled eggs with dyed green filling
  • Cat’s Hats– skewers of grape tomatoes and chunks of string cheese
  • Truffula Fruit Kabobs– rainbow fruit skewers with strawberries, cantaloupe, green grapes, blueberries, and red grapes
  • One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish– Goldfish crackers (we found red, white, and blue 4th of July themed ones, which worked perfectly!)
  • Hop on Pop(corn)– plain ol’ popcorn

Other

We did have too many decorations. We used Dr. Suess books everywhere as the majority of our decorations, and used red, white, and blue as our main colors.

We made a “sweets” table with treat bags for everyone to take some home with them. The treats table included Nutter Butters (Loraxes), Rolo Pretzel Turtles (Yertle’s Turtles), M&Ms (Truffula Seeds), Swedish Fish/Gummy Sharks (One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish), Orange Slices (in a glass jar, decorated with a Lorax face), Twizzlers, and gum balls.

In lieu of a cake, we had mini cupcakes. I printed off small Dr. Suess related pictures and made them into cupcake toppers by gluing a toothpick in between two of them.

This party was a super simple one to bring together, especially since decoration-wise, we used mostly books we already had and red, white, and blue colored decorations. But I loved the way it came together and we got so many compliments on it! Stay tuned in a couple weeks to see what the girls’ birthday party will be this year!

Ahi Tuna Poke Bowls

It’s been a while; a long while! But I figured I’d jump back in feet first with this recipe, mostly because this might just be the best thing I’ve ever made!

There is a little beachy restaurant nearby that serves delicious ahi tuna poke bowls, and every time I go, that’s exactly what I order. I’ve thought for a while about trying to recreate it at home, but was a little nervous about using raw tuna. After doing some (a lot of) research on sushi-grade tuna, I finally bought some.

I am not kidding when I say this is probably the best thing I’ve ever made. I am already planning to make this again next week! The only small problem for me is that I had to make two meals. I do not feed my girls raw fish, so I made chicken for their main dish, then they ate rice and avocado like us.

Please, please, pleeeeease make this. Soon! It could not have been easier to make (plus I already had all the ingredients on hand except tuna and avocado!), but was so so delicious.

Ahi Tuna Poke Bowls




Ingredients:
4 tbsp. soy sauce
2 tsp. rice vinegar
2 tsp. sesame oil
2 tsp. sesame seeds
1 tsp. red pepper flakes
1/4 c. thinly sliced green onions
1 lb. sushi grade tuna steaks, cut into cubes
1 medium sized avocado, cubed (about the same size as the tuna chunks)
your favorite rice, for serving (I used basmati)
optional: sesame seeds and sriracha sauce for garnish

Directions:
Whisk together soy sauce, rice vinegar, sesame oil, sesame seeds, and red pepper flakes. Add cubed tuna and let sit for 15 minutes.

Add green onions and avocado and stir gently to mix. Serve in bowls over rice, then top with sesame seeds and sriracha, if desired.

Top 10 Favorite iPhone Apps

For the longest time, I was Team Anti-iPhone and was adamant I’d never have one. Finally, a few years ago when we switched carriers, I was convinced to jump on the bandwagon and bought an iPhone 4. I thought I’d hate it but I’ve grown to love it and don’t think I’d switch back.

I have since gotten an iPhone 5S, which I love even more because the camera is much higher quality. I use my phone for everything: my watch, camera, alarm clock, to-do list, and calendar, just to name a few.

When it comes to apps, I’m the first to admit I’m a cheapskate. I hoard my App Store credits in case I need to use them on something, you know, really important someday. Therefore, most of my suggestions are free or close to it. If I do actually pay for an app, I definitely make sure it’s worth it!

I figured I’d put together a list of my favorite (and most used) apps on my iPhone, so here goes, in no certain order.

1. Instagram– This is pretty much a given. It has become super popular in the past couple years, and I think for good reason. I use it quite a bit for putting up pictures of my kids, so I like to keep mine on private. I love Instagram, but I’m not really on board with those who like to use #threepagesofhashtags on #everysinglepost, but you know, #whateverfloatsyourboat.

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2. Pinterest– I don’t use Pinterest all that often, but when I do, it’s usually for 4 hours straight when I should be doing something more productive, pinning things that I’ll never actually be able to make. But I do like the app and the newer updates make it super easy to use, which I love.

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3. Diptic– There are tons of collage making apps for Instagram, but Diptic is my favorite and the easiest I’ve found to use.

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4. Timehop– This is one of the newer apps I’ve downloaded, but one of my favorites! Timehop lets you connect your Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, among others, and shows you your social media activity on this date in years past. It is really cool to see what my life was like on this date years ago, before I had a husband, kids, and responsibilities.

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5. Pocket– This is another wonderful app invention. I always have several articles open in my Safari at any given time waiting to be read. Nowadays, I save them to my Pocket instead of leaving them in Safari, so I can read them when I don’t have any internet service. It’s really easy to transfer them from Safari to Pocket, and when I can’t use my internet, I can still use my phone to read these articles. I so wish I had this throughout my two pregnancies when I spent hours upon hours in my OBGYN’s office (which had zero service as soon as you stepped through the door) looking for something to entertain me.

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6. Our To Do List– This might be my most utilized app on my phone. I searched high and low looking for a good app to make lists in. This is it. I even sprung for the paid version, so that should tell you something. Our To Do List is very simple, which is what I was looking for. The best function is the ability to create lists within lists, something I use a lot. I use this app for everything from a grocery to list to Christmas gift ideas to restaurants I want to try.

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7. Feedly– I follow a lot of blogs, but don’t like to clog up my email with newsletters. I used to use Google Reader, but when they (sadly) closed that down, I switched to Feedly. I actually love it more than Google Reader, even though it is set up very similar. I find Feedly much prettier to look at. I use it on both my iPad and phone and prefer it on my iPad, but use it on my phone on a pretty regular basis too.

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8. Target Cartwheel– I’m all about saving money and I spend lots of time and money at Target. This is my shopping dream come true! There are discounts on hundreds of things in Target. It is organized by category, so items are easy to find if you already know what you’re looking for. But if you’re like me and just browse and fill your cart with random things, you can scan an item’s barcode and check if any Cartwheels are available for it. It’s easy to use and I’ve saved $87 since I started using it six months ago. Yikes, I don’t even want to think about how much that means I’ve actually spent!

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9. Ibotta– This is another money-saving app. Ibotta takes a little more time and effort than Target Cartwheel. The basics: the app has lists of items in grocery stores, drugstores, restaurants, etc. that you can purchase. After buying an item on the list, you scan the barcode and take a picture of the receipt. You submit the claim and they deposit money (usually $.50-1.00) into your Ibotta account. After you earn a certain amount, you can redeem it for gift cards or cash through Paypal. Like I said, a little more work, but for things I was buying anyway, I’ve racked up $23.00 over the past couple months.

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10. Covet Fashion– This is a silly game, but an addicting one! You have a “bank account” to buy clothes, shoes, accessories, etc. They have several “events” going on at a time such as a wedding, night out on the town, and work function. You buy outfits for these events with money you earn for judging other peoples’ outfits. It’s pretty fun for a time killer (not that I really need many of those these days!).

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I would say those ten apps are my favorite and most used apps on my iPhone. A few honorable mentions are Facebook, Words with Friends, Urbanspoon, and Goodreads. I hope you’ve seen something on here that you haven’t heard of and now you love it too

My Week in Instagram Pictures

Wow, I have a ton of pictures from the last week. Cesar and I and the girls went to Puerto Rico last week for a friend’s wedding and made it into a little vacation. It was our first vacation as a family of four, and geez…it was chaotic to say the least! But we had a good time just the four of us navigating Puerto Rico’s crazy (and sometimes scary) roads. More on Puerto Rico later. But for now, let’s get into my week in Instagram pictures. They are a little out of order this week…I used a new program to make this collage and well…I got a little confused.

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1. Before we left for Puerto Rico, we went to my parents’ house for dinner one night. My dad has a little garden that Sophia likes “helping” in, so even though she is extremely helpful with his garden, he went ahead and got her her own seeds to plant.

2. Here we are at the airport and on the plane leaving for Puerto Rico! We ended up taking Sophia’s suitcase as a carry-on, so she insisted she wheel it around the whooooole airport. That would have been fine and dandy if we hadn’t hit traffic on the way there and had about 45 minutes to get through security and get to our gate. Luckily, good ol’ JetBlue was running a little late, as usual. As you can see here, we were all happy to be heading out of Florida on our way to Puerto Rico!

3. This one’s a little out of place, but this was a sign I liked at the wedding we went to. It was very appropriate for this wedding. Everyone definitely wore their dancing shoes. I forgot mine (oops) but it was fun watching everyone else dance. Haha!

4. This was on Friday after we went to Casa Bacardi. We were on our way back to the ferry to get back to Old San Juan and it was like 200 degrees outside. We planned to get lunch after we got back to Old San Juan, but saw this place, SOS Burger, and decided to stop. This ended up being one of the best (and cheapest) meals of the trip.

5. The first night we were in Puerto Rico, we wandered around the cute little street our hotel was on in Old San Juan and stumbled upon Genesis Restaurant. It was really good, and Sophia decided she loves passionfruit juice at that meal. She drank like 10 more during our trip.

6. This was at Casa Bacardi in Cataño. It was fun, but again, it was so hot.  And yes, it was appropriate for children!

7. Just a few short miles from our hotel (which took like 20 minutes) was Castillo San Felipe del Morro. We got there too late that day so we missed the tours of the fort, but we wandered around by ourselves. They had vendors all up and down the streets, so afterward we stopped and got some very highly recommended piraguas (shave ice that is shaved by hand).

8. Most of the touristy things in San Juan and Old San Juan close by 6:00pm. So on Friday night, we decided to venture into the heart of San Juan and find Plaza Las Americas (not my idea!). That mall was huge. We shopped for a while, got Sophia a stuffed dog at Build-a-Bear (which she herself named Rico for Puerto Rico), then ate dinner at an Argentinean restaurant called Fuegito.

9. On Saturday morning, before the wedding, we drove about 20 miles away to Carolina, where they have a children’s museum (Museo del Niño). When we arrived, the parking lot was pretty empty, so we looked and found out they open at 9 every day except Saturday (when they open at 10). We stopped at a store on the corner and asked a local where we could go to eat breakfast and kill an hour. He directed us to Panaderia Flor de Asturias. It was so good, but we were way outside of the tourist area of Old San Juan, and virtually no one spoke English around here. Luckily, Spanish is Cesar’s native language and I minored in Spanish in college.

10. Sophia had so much fun at the Museo del Niño and these were just some of the fun things they had there. Sophia was absolutely in awe that they had step stools that folded down for her to step on to wash her hands in the bathroom. They also had an entire row of kid sized toilets. We could’ve just saved the $26 admission cost and taken her to play in the bathroom. No, really. That’s how much she loved the bathrooms.

11. The wedding we went to was on the Coast Guard base in Aguadilla. It was a really fun time for Cesar, Sophia, and I. Emma took the opportunity to catch up on her sleep.

12. On our way home from Puerto Rico, we flew over the Bahamas on a very clear day. This is a picture I took of the Bahamas from our seats.  We had a great view!

13. In the Museo del Niño, they had a Mini City. It was so cute, and had a whole little town of about 15 different places, complete with a police station, bank, mayor’s office, and fire station. Each of the places had activities and outfits for the kids to dress up in.  Sophia loved this part of the museum.

14. From Old San Juan where we were staying to Aguadilla was about 2 1/2 hours. It would have been bad, except for this view we had for about half of our drive.

15. Since we missed the first Gator game when we were in Puerto Rico, we were excited to watch the second game. Sophia and Emma were not impressed (neither were we).

16. At least my littlest girl (and my biggest girl too!) looked cute, despite how terrible to Gators looked.

That’s the week I’ve had, as described through my Instagram pictures. I will do a Travel Recap post on our trip to Puerto Rico as soon as I can, because we had such a great trip, but until then…

My Week (Uh, Month…) in Instagram Pictures

Sooo, since I’ve been gone a while, I haven’t done an Instagram post in a while.  And, well, I still use it quite a bit so I have tons of pictures to share.  I’ll at least try to catch you up to the beginning of July, now that it is officially August (yikes!).  I do apologize that the majority of these are of my kids, but you know, when you’re a mom, that’s just what happens.  And my girls are just the cutest darn things I’ve ever seen.  That too.

My Week In Instagram Pictures

Row 1 (L to R):

1. When Sophia graduated from round 2 of her ISR lessons, she was beyond proud of herself.  I asked her what she wanted to do to celebrate and she told me she wanted to make cupcakes.  So off we went to the grocery store, where she picked out what kind of cake mix, icing, and sprinkles she wanted.  We ended up with chocolate cupcakes, pink and purple vanilla icing, and rainbow sprinkles!

2. Emma and I when she was probably 3 weeks old.  She loves to sleep with her face buried in my chest.

3. With both girls with me during the day while Cesar works, unfortunately there are many times when I am nursing Emma that Sophia has to play by herself.  She loves being near me though when I’m feeding her little sister, so the iPad is the perfect solution.  She has all kinds of learning games she plays on it, so I don’t mind too much!

4. My sweet big girl loves feeding her little sister when Emma takes a bottle.  Of course, Cesar or I always help her, but she loves being involved.

5. Emma was about 3 weeks old here.  This was right after her third doctor appointment since leaving the hospital to check her weight, and she was finally back up to her birth weight (yay!).  She lost quite a bit of weight while we were still in the hospital and had a hard time gaining it back at first.  We have since started supplementing me nursing her with formula, and she has more than made up for it.

Row 2:

6. This was on 4th of July.  We went to my parents’ house for a cookout for lunch and both girls fell asleep almost instantly.

7. This was also at my parents’ house on 4th of July.  We had a fun day swimming and cooking out.  And, the girls looked super cute in their matching 4th of July outfits!

8. A beautiful picture I took from where we watched fireworks.  This picture has no filter applied.

9. Towards the middle of July, Sophia, Emma, and I rode to Orlando where my parents were staying for a few days for a conference my mom had to go to.  We were going to camp out in their hotel room for the night, but ended up having a car problem that had to be fixed ASAP, and extended our stay an extra night to give the mechanic time to work on it.  This picture is wall art at a restaurant called Burger 21, which I loved.

10. This was at the hotel in Orlando.  The had two huge fire pits out near the pool and Sophia loved going down to sit and watch.  She was completely mesmerized.

Row 3:

11. This picture was also in Orlando (last one, I swear!).  I like having a few matching outfits for Sophia and Emma, but they’re hard to find unless I order them online from somewhere I don’t normally shop.  Most places they have a newborn section which only goes up to 12 months, then a toddle section that is 12 months and up.  Well, Emma wears size NB and Sophia is in size 18-24 months, so there is usually not too much that matches for the two of them.  Anyway, here’s a matching outfit I found at Target for them.  They are so stinkin’ cute!

12. When Emma turned a month old, we had family pictures taken.  We hired a photographer that came recommended from a friend to come to our house and take pictures of the four of us.  This is what Emma wore, which I think might be the cutest newborn outfit ever made!

13. Since we went to the Magic Kingdom for the first time a couple months ago, Sophia has grown more and more fond of Monster’s Inc.  When Monster’s University came out, everywhere we went we saw commercials and toys and books and anything else you can think of.  She kept saying she wanted to watch it, so one night, we took Emma to Cesar’s parents’ house and took our big girl on a date to see it.  She was so good and loved the movie!

14. This was one night after dinner when we were getting ready to go for a walk.  Sophia picked out her “exercise outfit” and insisted that she needed to stretch beforehand.  I don’t know where she gets this stuff from, but she really cracks us up!

15. Emma was born with a ton of hair!  This was one night after her bath, when she had crazy post-bath hair.

Row 4:

16. This is when Emma was about 5 weeks old.  She was swimming in her newborn clothes.  In most of them, she still is!

17. One day we were leaving the house to go run errands and Sophia asked me to take a picture of her.  This is what transpired.

18. Emma’s one month picture.  I was a little late on posting this to Instagram, which is why it’s a little out of order.  She was making all kinds of crazy faces while we tried to take her picture.

19. Sophia loves shopping at Target.  You can tell by the look on her face.  Her daddy pretty much hates this idea!

20. Last weekend, my mom, sister, and I went to a Gator’s football clinic for women, which is really fun if you are a Gator football fan.  You listen to all the coaches talk about football and about the upcoming season, then tour the weight room, locker room, offices, etc.  After that, you go onto the field and do a bunch of drills with the coaches, which are really fun.  This is leaving the tunnel and entering The Swamp.

Row 5:

21. Cesar and the girls came to Gainesville with me for the night.  The next day, when we left, we stopped at an exit to find somewhere to eat and found a Chuck E. Cheese.  We decided to go since Sophia had never been before.  It was absolutely packed, but Sophia had a ball.  It cost us all of 5 bucks for tokens to keep her occupied for about two hours.  Score!

22. Before we left Gainesville, we stopped at Trader Joe’s, which is my absolute favorite grocery store.  We don’t have one anywhere near us though, so I jumped on the opportunity to stop before we left town.  Here’s our two big ol’ bags full of groceries that we really didn’t even need, but bought anyway.

23.  The other day, Sophia and I dropped Emma off to their Abuela’s house and ran some errands.  I asked her where she wanted to eat lunch, and she matter-of-factly told me “Chick-fer-la”.

24. We visited Nanny (my grandmother) yesterday and out of all the toys she has there, she wanted to sit in a cardboard box.  She told me, “Mommy, I’m in the bath!  Scrubby, scrub, scrub!”  Here she is scrubbing herself clean.

25. Last night after dinner we went for a walk around our neighborhood.  Obviously one girl is much more excited about it than the other!

 

Sorry that was so long.  Kudos to you if you actually got through it all!  I’ll try to do these more often so I don’t have to do such a huge one all at once again!

The Happiest Place on Earth!

The Happiest Place on Earth_Magic KingdomSophia has always loved all things Disney.  Her first birthday party had a Minnie Mouse theme, she has more Disney stuffed animals than she can count, and she loves watching Mickey Mouse Clubhouse when it’s on TV.  So, not surprisingly, Cesar and I had been discussing the idea of taking her to Disney World (as in, the parks) since she was about 18 months old.  Kids are free until their third birthday, so it would just be buying tickets for Cesar and I…perfect.  We talked about all the possibilities- one day pass?  Three day?  Seasonal?  Annual?  Geez, the number of options when it comes to purchasing Disney tickets can really stress out a research freak like me.  Finally, about a month before Sophia’s second birthday, we decided to go for it.  But not without a little research first.

One day pass.  Cheapest option for sure, but definitely not the biggest bang for our buck.  We could only choose one park and I’d feel like we needed to spend the whooooole day there to get the most out of our money.  Umm, that was a big no with a two year old and a 7.5 month pregnant mama who was already starting to waddle.  One day passes were out.

Three day pass.  We didn’t really want to go for three days in a row with Sophia- we thought it might be too much.  With the flex-pass or whatever they call it, we could go three separate days and we could probably fit some time in at all four parks if we chose the right tickets.  But what if she loved it and wanted to keep going back (which we were thinking was a very strong possibility)?  We would have wasted like $150 each then would have to buy more tickets anyway.  Hmm.  Three day passes- nope!

Seasonal pass.  I knew from the beginning that I didn’t like the idea of seasonal passes for us.  We had them when I was younger and it worked out nicely for us, but for Cesar and I, there are too many blackout dates.  With Cesar working an hour away in the complete opposite direction from Orlando, there are only certain days we could go and wanted to know that our Disney tickets would be good for the days we wanted to use them.  Plus, if I was going to spend several hundred dollars on passes for the year, I’d rather just spend the extra $200-something and get annual passes.  Soooo…annual passes it was!

I researched and researched and researched online to figure out how I could get the best deal.  I ended up buying annual passes through AAA.  It was a little cheaper than buying them directly through Disney and it came with a free Diamond parking pass.

At the end of April, we took Sophia to the Magic Kingdom for the first time.  She had an absolute ball!  When we first got there, a parade was just starting.  She did not turn her eyes away from that parade for a second.

The Happiest Place on Earth_ParadeAfter the parade, she wanted to meet the princesses.  She couldn’t believe the princesses in her books were real!  Her favorite was Cinderella.

The Happiest Place on Earth_PrincessesThen we rode the train to Fantasyland to ride Dumbo.  She was so excited to ride them both and just laughed and smiled the entire time!  She and Cesar rode Dumbo while I watched.  She was having so much fun controlling the lever on the Dumbo ride.  I think Cesar regretted that decision.

The Happiest Place on Earth_TrainThe Happiest Place on Earth_DumboNext stop was meeting Minnie Mouse and Daisy.  She squealed when she saw Minnie Mouse and she even tried sneaking under the ropes to meet her before our turn.

The Happiest Place on Earth_Daisy and MinnieWe also shopped a little, rode on the Carousel of Progress, ate lunch in Tomorrowland, and visited a few other attractions.  Believe it or not, that was a full day’s worth of fun (which equaled about 8 hours for the aforementioned 7.5 month waddling pregnant woman).

We have been to Epcot since then, which was even more fun for me (at about 38 weeks pregnant).  We are really happy with our decision to buy annual passes and are definitely planning on going lots now that I’m no longer pregnant.  Next up…Animal Kingdom!

 

I’m baaaaack!

Whew, that was a nice break!  Here’s a nice long post to let you know why I’ve been gone, then I’ll get to work soon to start catching you up with what’s been happening since then!

The last time I posted, everything was going wonderfully (it still is!).  Soon after that last post back in September, I started feeling super tired and super sick.  I thought I had caught something going around and just knew it’d be gone in a couple days, since I am rarely sick.  A week later, I was getting worse, not better.  Hmmm.

I was so caught up in being sick plus trying to keep up with my very energetic 15 month old, I didn’t even realize my “monthly visitor” was a little late.  I decided to wait it out a couple more days, because it could have just been thrown off due to me being so sick.  A week later…nothing.

After talking to Cesar about it and waiting a couple more days, I started to consider the fact that I was more than a little late.  By the time I was almost two weeks late, we bit the bullet and bought a pregnancy test.  I was pretty anxious about it by this point, so I rushed to the bathroom as soon as we got home.  A mere 3 minutes later, we wandered in on a big ol’ fat “+“!

From the very beginning of this pregnancy, I was super sick.  I was throwing up multiple times a day.  Like, 15 times a day.  I was not able to keep any food or liquids down at all.  I even ended up in the emergency room several times due to dehydration.

The first time, they pumped me full of fluids and gave me some Zofran through my IV (which made me feel a lot better!) then sent me on my way with my prescription for Zofran in hand.  I was so excited to finally start feeling better!  Little did I know that taking Zofran orally would do me absolutely no good at all.  A few more trips to the ER later, I was diagnosed with hyperemesis gravidarum (which later became a much more well-known phenomenon after Kate Middleton was diagnosed with the same thing).  After realizing Zofran wouldn’t do the trick, I was given a prescription for Reglan, then later for Phenergan- neither of which helped at all either.  I was told by my doctor that hyperemesis gradidarum often lasts throughout the whole pregnancy, so I pretty much gave up all hope of ever feeling better.

The only thing that provided a little- and I do mean the tiniest bit- of relief was sniffing the cinnamon broom my mom bought me at the grocery store.  Fortunately for me, the only guests we had over during this time were our immediate families, so they got used to the fact that I had a cinnamon broom hanging on a hook in the middle of my white living room wall, and I could oftentimes be found with my face buried inside of it trying not to puke my guts up yet again.

Luckily, by time I was about 13 weeks pregnant, the vomiting and nausea started to subside, and by 16 weeks, it was gone completely.  From that point on, my pregnancy was pretty much perfect!  No high blood pressure or low amniotic fluid levels like I had with Sophia, no more nausea, no swelling…just a whole bunch of heartburn and what the ultrasound tech said was going to be a 9.5lb. baby!

Fast forward a couple months to June…

Because I was going to have such a large baby, the doctor did not want me to go past 40 weeks, so he told me if I didn’t go into labor on my own by 40 weeks, he’d like me to consider an induction.  Well, 39 weeks came and went, and on 39w5d, I had an appointment where we decided I’d go in to the hospital the next night.

I went to the hospital the following evening to get ready for my induction at 40 weeks on the dot.  The next morning, the induction was in full swing.  Seven hours and a fairly easy labor later, we welcomed our second little girl, Emma.  Luckily for me, she was nowhere near 9.5 pounds.  She was a perfect 7lb. 10oz. with a full head of hair, and beautiful like her big sister!

We are so excited to have her here with us finally and Sophia has been the absolute best big sister we could have ever imagined!  Our lives have changed so much now that we have two kids (we are never on time for anything!), but it has certainly been for the better.  Cesar and I both love being parents, especially to our two perfect little girls!

So…I hope you can forgive me for my absence over the last several months, but I personally think I have a pretty dang good excuse! 🙂