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Our Love Story: Part 1: Two Big Moves

I have been reading a lot of blogs lately. (Late night nursing sessions leave a lot of time to read!) Many blogs will have the authors love story within their posts. I went back to my blog and read the “our story” page. Since it is so condensed, I thought I’d better do a few posts to do our story justice. So welcome to part one ;)

In 2003 Garren’s Dad was offered a job in Cedar City, Utah. I don’t know the exact details of the move but Garren’s mom did tell me that he is the reason they ultimately decided to move. At first they didn’t want to move him when he was just about to start high school. He had a very good thing going with his wrestling team and they weren’t sure he wanted to move. That all changed when they asked him and he said YES, they should in fact move. He didn’t have any LDS friends and he could tell high school would be miserable without good friends.

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Garren transitioned smoothly

Meanwhile, a slightly less mature me was throwing the temper tantrum of my life when my parents declared we were moving AGAIN. This would be the third cross country move to a place filled with mormons. Now don’t get me wrong. I WAS a mormon at the time. However we were not active at the time (and there were very few times in my life that we actively went to church) and none of my friends were LDS. I was popular and loved all of my friends. I was just about to start high school (I was in 9th grade at the time but in PA 9th grade was in the JR high) and the thought of moving had me convinced I would die. Plus they were moving me to, what I called, a truck stop in Utah.

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I had a harder time

Garren and I moved to the same little city in Utah with in 8 months of each other and started school at the same high school. We wouldn’t officially meet for another year and a half but it’s the start of our story.

I have never believed in coincidences, but if I did, this would be my favorite one.

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Flying Tips: When Your Baby Doesn’t Take a Pacifier or Bottle

 

Garren and I knew basically since Blair was born that we would be flying to Utah the end of June to have her blessed and spend some much needed time with family. I am not a fan of flying. Many friends, family members, and a certain spouse of mine can probably show you the scars on their hands from my fingernails digging into them during takeoffs, landings, and bouts of turbulence. Adding a baby had my fears sky high. So I did what I do best. I read every website, blog post and article I could find on the subject. I also asked countless of my mommy friends for advice. No joke every single thing I read or heard focused on one thing: binkies (and/or extra bottles). The pressure from takeoff and landing could really bother a baby’s ears so it’s important to keep a baby sucking on something. This had me in an absolute panic. Not only does Blair not take a bottle or pacifier, she wont even entertain the idea of one for a few minutes. So if your baby is like mine here are some things that helped me! (Also general things that helped)

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  1. Starve your Baby. Sounds cruel I know but I NEEDED Blair to eat during takeoff, as this is when the greatest pressure change occurs. She usually goes about 2.5-3 hours between feeds so for our 12:00 pm flight I fed her last at 8:45 am and then not again til takeoff. On the way there this was actually really easy. I just had Garren hold her and distract her until it was time to takeoff. It could not have gone better. She is usually done eating after about 5-8 minutes but she was so hungry she ate for nearly 20! So we had passed the “safe” zone well before she was done eating. The way back I was alone and proved to be much more difficult. She spent about half an hour crying in my arms before we started take off and ended up only eating her normal 7 minutes BUT it seemed to have done the trick because her ears never bothered her.
  2. Get an aisle seat. We flew southwest so it’s just open seating. Most people told us to ask, when we check in, if the flight was full. If not, to have Garren sit in the window and me in the aisle with baby, because who in their right mind is going to sit in between that? Unfortunately both flights were at full capacity. Probably because we had a direct flight to and from Manchester. Regardless. The aisle is where you need to be. If you can pick your seat when buying the ticket, checking in, or boarding be sure to do this. You will most likely be getting up to change the baby, rock/jostle the baby, or a thousand other reasons for needing to get up.
  3. Air Vent. Ok this one may be a complete hoax but I am now convinced. On an airplane the air is re-circulated. That means any sickness or germs are also being recirculated. I had read some where on the internet to make sure you have your little air bulb blasting air on you at all times. I did this on the way there and everything went smoothly. On the way back I sat by strangers and since the air things were above them I sort of spaced it. 24 hours later Blair had her first cold. YES IT MIGHT BE A COINCIDENCE. But it’s such a small, insignificant thing to try what can it hurt?
  4. New Toy. This is aimed for babies probably a little older than Blair but it worked out well for us any way. Buying them a new toy gives them something to play with that they have never seen (ummm duh?) so it should captivate their attention for a longer amount of time. I also brought her current favorite toy (Sophie the Giraffe) so that she would have something familiar through out the trip. This actually turned out to be a huge help when she constantly had to be in her car seat. I will definitely be doing this one for future flights since she will be older and have a greater desire to “play”. We also brought a tablet that had a preschool app that Blair finds entertaining on it. That helped for maybe ten minutes, but your kid may be more receptive.
  5. Ask for Help I am a pretty independent person and asking for help is not something I think of first, but being alone with a baby on a five hour flight I quickly learned how too. Listen. I had a baby 5 months ago. Things are still a little messed up. I can’t hold my bladder for 5 hours. Have you been to an airplane bathroom? I had no idea how I was supposed to go to the bathroom and hold my baby. Luckily the couple next to me were super nice, and thought Blair was the cutest thing in the whole world! They offered to hold her any time I needed to go to the bathroom and/or just wanted a break! I could tell they personally didn’t have kids though because he second she whined they were handing her back to me with a semi panicked look on their faces. It was actually pretty cute. I am so grateful!
  6. Let it Go. In the now famous words from Frozen. Let it go. Your baby will most likely cry, get upset or even have a complete meltdown. Yes other people on the plane may give you dirty looks. Guess what? You will never see them again. All you can do is your best, the flight will not last forever. Take a deep breath and just push through it. Stressing about what other people think gets you absolutely nowhere! I promise it will be ok!

Honorable mentions.  Blair is not quite old enough for snacks but I bet having plenty of those would help so much with older babies! I will definitely be utilizing that in the future!

Finally my cute husband met me at baggage claim with a coke in hand. WINNER.

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Utah Vacation

I debated doing this post because I have a feeling it’s going to be HUGE, and I already have an album on Facebook documenting the experience, BUT I decided this blog is my journal and there is so much more to say about it!

If you know me personally you know I am not an airplane lover. I hate flying. It always scares me, but thankfully my love for travel always trumps my fear of flying. Well add a 5 month old baby into the mix and I was down right terrified. Every thing I read said “MAKE SURE TO BRING LOTS OF BINKIES AND EXTRA BOTTLES”. Good thing my baby doesn’t take either? Both flights (the second flight I was alone with Blair!) ended up going wonderfully. I am writing a “Surviving an airplane with a non binky/bottle baby” post that I will share sometime next week so I will give more details then! 10453468_10152170074127477_413190962093406822_n10437497_10152181650837477_1577528278068685624_n

The worst part of the entire trip was actually the drive from Las Vegas to Cedar. There was some ridiculous road work going and and we went 6 miles in a little under an hour and a half. Yes you read that right. It was crazy. Blair rarely cries so that fact that she had crocodile tears streaming down her face for the majority of that time was killing me. I have never felt that kind of desperation before. In the airport I actually “surprised” Jerry because I let Blair wear a batman (complete with cape) onesie. Needless to say he was stoked. It was so nice being greeted by him, Ashlee, my sister and her kids at the airport. I can’t believe it’s been nearly a year since we have seen all of them.

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The next day was Blair’s blessing.

The first week was a whirlwind of seeing all of our family members before Garren had to leave. Blair go to meet all of her aunts and uncles, some of her great grandparents, all of her grandparents, and even her great great uncle who is one of her namesakes!

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She was mezmorized by the fire

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Great, Great Uncle Ron Monroe and Great Grammy Gail

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Great Grandma and Grandpa Allred

On the 4th of July Blair went to her first parade. She was more or less unimpressed but that’s ok. Hopefully next year it’s more exciting for her. She was in bed well before fireworks so I guess we are saving that for next year as well! Ever since Blair was born I have missed our families so much. This trip just solidified how much I look forward to living closer to them. We are so blessed with the families we have.

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Kisses! Ok maybe she was just really hungry but I love it

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I love being apart of this crazy family

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Even though my kids won’t have cousins their age, they will definitely be loved by their older ones! All of them were just constantly playing with her and making her laugh. I can’t even tell you what a wonderful sight it was to see. And yes we played matchy dress up a lot ;)

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Macie and Blair

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S and Blair

We took family pictures on Saturday the 5th and I am dying to see how they turned out! Hopefully we get them back soon. I will definitely post them when I do! Garren ended up having to go back to NH for school but Blair and I stayed until that next Saturday. Blair had fun doing things like dishes, cooking, play dates with friends from NH and having her first bonfire!

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My favorite place to nurse and hang out with Blair quickly became the deck. We were taking in the view one night when she whipped around and looked up at me, moments like this make me exceedingly grateful to be a mother.

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Nana makes every day activities so fun and exciting! Blair’s eyes were glued to whatever she was doing.

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How fun (and random) is it that our friends from NH moved to Cedar?!

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She finally decided she likes swinging

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I love her posture here

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I love their facial expressions

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Already missing this spot. Our balcony is a lot less peaceful and filled with a lot of cigarette smoke from our neighbors down below :(

Blair and I were super excited to see daddy again but we are counting down the months until we move back out west! (10!). There are still some family members B hasn’t met but we will be meeting some of them in November when we travel to Texas for Thanksgiving! (Be still my heart, Blair will be flying with me to Utah in September for BFF’s wedding, all three of us to Texas in Utah and then home in May. My little traveler )

 

 

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Blair Monroe: Blessing Day

Our main reason for going to Utah was to have Blair blessed surrounded by the people who love her. In the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints we do not baptize babies as we do not believe they are subjected to that transgression. Here is the excerpt from True to the Faith:

Because of the Fall of Adam and Eve, all people live in a fallen condition, separated from God and subject to physical death. However, we are not condemned by what many call the “original sin.” In other words, we are not accountable for Adam’s transgression in the Garden of Eden. The Prophet Joseph Smith said, “We believe that men will be punished for their own sins, and not for Adam’s transgression” (Articles of Faith 1:2).

Through the Atonement, the Savior paid the price for the transgression in the Garden of Eden (see Moses 6:53). He has given us the assurance of resurrection and the promise that, based on our faithfulness, we can return to dwell in the presence of our Heavenly Father forever.

Kids are baptized at the age of 8, when we believe they have to ability to decipher right from wrong.

Now to the actual day! We had just arrived in Utah the day before, so everything was a little hectic. We went to Sacrament meeting at church and then went home to let Blair take a nap and to get ready for all of our guests. That day was also the first time I have seen my best friend in over two years because I was in New Hampshire when she returned home from her mission! (And now she is engaged!! EEK!) Both of our families were there, we even had grandparents travel from Arizona and California to come see our little girl blessed. The feeling was so surreal witnessing my husband and other loved ones surround our daughter with love, hold her, and bless her with the power of God. The blessing was so beautiful, I honestly don’t remember a lot that was said but I will never forget the way I felt. Brings tears to my eyes just remembering it.

Blair was held by probably 40 different people that night and I was amazed by how well she handled it. She went down for a much deserved nap soon after the blessing.

Garren and I had a great time catching up with our friends and family and are so grateful to every one who came. I am also so grateful to my in-laws for helping it all come together flawlessly! There were a ton of other pictures but I cleverly forgot our camera in Vegas at my sisters. Hopefully it’s on it’s way here!

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She wore my blessing dress :)

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Blair Monroe- 5 months old

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I don’t know any of her stats this month so I will just have to record them for the six month post! Also we were in Utah so I didn’t have the normal things I take her picture with and for some reason the quality isn’t great.

Dr. Appointment: No doctor this month! Those are my favorite kind of months

Nicknames: Garren calls her B Money a lot which I have banned because there was this “rapper” in provo that went by that name and well just no. I call her “Munch” the majority of the time but she still clings to the nicknames: Squish, squishy, B, and baby girl.

Clothing: Remember how we cloth diaper? Well we just washed them all and have put her in disposable diapers and her 3-6 month clothing is HUGE on her. I currently have her in a 0-3 month outfit that fits great, although a little short in the pants. Seriously how small is my little girl? I keep trying to fatten her up, but she is crazy so she works it off pretty easily. I am still only bringing 3-6 month clothing to Utah tomorrow because that’s her summer wardrobe. Edit: Now that we are in Utah the clothes are working fine. Yes they are a little bit big but thats ok :)

Diapers: Since we are using disposable for the trip, I have become even more of a fan of cloth. I just have this weird distrust of disposable now. They seem so flimsy! She NEVER has blowouts with cloth so we will see how disposable go! We can now wash every third day so that’s awesome. I am still shocked out little “work” cloth is. Edit: We have already had more blowouts in the last week than we have the entire first 4 months of her life with cloth diapers. I am officially a cloth diaper mama. Now and forever.

Eating: Oh man. Blair is ALL over the place with this one. Sometimes she will go 4 hours between feeds and other times it’s been 1.5 hours and she thinks she is starving. She rarely eats longer than 5 minutes before she is looking around and wanting to play again. I wish she was a bit bigger because I get nervous about her size and efficiency while eating. She has sucked on a watermelon and I made her breast milk Popsicles that she was a huge fan of. I am super nervous and excited to try food next month.

Sleeping: Still going through the sleep regression. She wakes up about every 2 hours but we have had some really good nights of her going 3-4 hours at a time and even had a 7.5 hour stretch the night I was sick. I swear she just knew her mama needed some extra sleep and being the sweet baby she is she obliged. Her naps have gotten much better. She has started taking 1-1.5 hour naps ever 2 or so hours! She still takes one cat nap of 30 minutes a day but she is slowly becoming a better napper. The saving grace is how easy she is to actually get to sleep. Oh we bought a zippy to help transition from the swaddle and it’s a life saver. Can’t say enough positive things about this thing!

Social: This month was her social debut. She met all of her grandparents, cousins, aunts and uncles and a ton of our friends. I was so nervous she would get over whelmed but looking back I have no idea why I was scared. The girl loves chaos! Her cousins loved her and were constantly playing with her. Garren’s brother Kyle made her laugh harder than she has ever laughed before. It was so fun to see her interact with people. She is so perceptive. You can just watch her taking it all in. She will just stare at a new person, almost like she is taking them in and learning who they are. I love seeing the world through her eyes. It’s by far the best part of being a mother.

Likes: the zippy, Sophie the giraffe (actually she LOVES Sophie), her cousins, aunts, uncles, and grandparents, when you sing the abc’s, nursing, water: watching it, bathing, playing, swimming you name it she loves it, nursing, the ergo, her stroller, being outside

Dislikes: When daddy is gone, not being able to play and roll around, binkies, bottles, the car seat and being overly tired.

New this Month: I don’t even know where to start. She rolls from stomach to back and back to stomach like she has been doing it her whole life, she gets her knees up under her and desperately tries to crawl, she lifts her chest up off the floor for a few seconds with her arms, she can sit unassisted for a few seconds or hold her self up with her arms for a few seconds, she has been talking even more and is using a lot more consonant sounds, she full out laughs now and has become tickleish, she has always liked her Sophie the giraffe but now she LOVES it. As in if she is upset and we give it to her she is happy and usually falls asleep. It’s amazing. She went swimming at a lake and a pool for the first time this month and loved it. She was blessed for our church! (a post coming about that tomorrow) OH and she swung on a swing for the first time

Fun Things We Did:

  • Swimming for the first time with Lucy
  • Trip to Utah to meet family
  • Swimming in a lake
  • First Airplane trip
  • Was blessed and given a name

I am going to skip the Mommy and Daddy sections because I have more posts coming up that will have those updates.

Looking Forward to:

  • Summer fun! Lots of swimming, swinging, play dates and walks
  • we are going to go Blueberry picking next month
  • Trying food for the first time
  • a trip to the beach
  • a trip into Boston!

Random Pictures:

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Faith

I have teamed up with some other bloggers to do a serious called, “Testimony Tuesdays”. The first Tuesday of each month we are given a topic to discuss and bear our testimony on. I thought this would be perfect for me to add a little variety to the blog and to gain confidence in discussing my faith, which is the most important thing in my life. Note: I am a Member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. You can learn more about the church here

This months topic is: FAITH

Coincidentally we discussed this very topic in Relief Society last Sunday. Even more amazing is the fact that I even know that. Having a 4 month old baby can be a little distracting. She happened to sleep through the whole thing so I had a rare opportunity to pay attention and be edified by the Lord’s spirit and the testimonies of others. A very interesting discussion broke out about whether or not faith can waiver, or if we simply stop believing. While there were many opinions, I will only share my own. Throughout my life my faith has waivered. There have been times of trial, and more significantly fear, when I have felt my testimony start to suffer. I have asked those questions of Why? However each and every one of those experiences has strengthened my testimony and given new life to the the way I see faith.

My two favorite quotes concerning faith are “Faith is not simply believing, its acting” and “Faith is the opposite of fear”.

Quick background, I was baptized at the age of 8 but my family was never active for very long growing up. At the age of 15 we moved to Utah and through the amazing friendships I made, and one life changing experience at EFY I developed my own testimony and became active in the church. I attended Brigham Young University. I was called to be the Relief Society President in my very first ward and was at a complete loss of what this even meant.  I was unsure of my abilities to take on such a roll. I was talking to my great grandmother, a spiritual giant, and who has since passed away. She told me some things that have stuck with me. First she said “God doesn’t call the qualified, he qualifies those he calls,” and then asked me if I have faith in my Father in Heaven to mold me into the woman he needs me to be. I of course responded yes, and she said, “well then get to work! Faith isn’t simply believing, its acting.” (I am not sure who the original quote is by. I remember her saying something about that but I couldn’t find it online) That year was seriously a whirlwind. I was taking a full load of classes, working, and having a ton of fun. I grew to love the church in a whole new way. Serving my sisters and learning from them gave me a steadfast testimony in the work behind faith. We cant expect our faith be unwavering if we are unwilling to reach deep inside ourselves, serve others, and push to gain greater knowledge of our Father in Heaven and Savior Jesus Christ. I go back to these scriptures all of the time, mainly when I am needing that motivation to push forward: James 2:26 For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also, James 1:22 But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, and Alma 32:27 Awake and arouse your faculties, even to an experiment upon my words, and exercise a particle of faith.

The second quote has helped me rise out of the most trying experience of my life. In December of 2012 we lost our first pregnancy to miscarriage at 10 weeks. Prior to this loss we had prayed fervently on whether or not it was the right time to bring children into our eternal family. With a resounding answer of peace we found out we were pregnant that first month. In my heart it felt so right. We had waited for the right time and once that came things happened quickly. I was already so in love with this tiny life and my future as a mother. The moment they told us there wasn’t a heart beat my world came crashing down. I tried so desperately to not let those questions and fears enter my heart, but they did. I became fearful that my righteous desire and dream to be a mother would never happen here. That I may never carry a baby to full term. So many women go through infertility (something I feel so blessed to not have had to experience), and one out of every four women will experience a miscarriage in their life time. Regardless I felt alone. Garren was a wonderful support, but it didn’t effect him the way it effected me. One night, while Garren was back east at a PT School interview I broke down and let my heart out to the Lord. I told him how mad I was, how sad I felt, and how truly fearful I was of the future. I knew I had two choices. I could let this experience ruin my testimony or I could find the light of Christ in this moment, allow myself to learn from this small tragedy and push forward in faith. I told my Father in Heaven that I refused to give into the fear the advesary would have me fall into and that I knew the Lord’s plan for me truly was perfect. That night I felt more peace than I had ever felt. My Father in Heaven comforted me and gave me the answers my heart yearned for. I knew from that moment on we would conceive again, I would hold this next baby in my arms, and I even told Garren I knew with a surety we would get pregnant that following May. The next 5 months, any time I felt the fear creep in, I did something about it. I knelt down to prayer, asked for a priesthood blessing or read the words of God through our prophets in the scriptures. I will tell you I failed many times, but I didn’t let the failure consume me and pressed forward.

Faith is the most important attribute we can hold while here on earth. I testify that we do have the choice to serve our fellow man and to believe the words of our Father in Heaven. We are so very loved by Him and because of our Savior Jesus Christ we will return to him. The life we lead is up to us. A life in faith will bring about so much happiness, a happiness that has no place for fear.

Read More Testimony Tuesday Entries here:

 

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Vegetarians for a Week

Garren and I have been trying very hard to eat healthy since Blair was born, and it’s slowly but surely paying off. I feel amazing. This last week we decided to eat vegetarian every day during the week. We personally feel like we were relying to much on meat, to make a meal feel complete. I have blogged about skinnytaste.com before and we got all of our vegetarian recipes from her as well. (Note: I am not a professional photographer, and these were all taken in my dimly lit kitchen when I was very hungry (nursing probs) so yeah. OH well. There are prettier pictures on the actual site that I have linked as well)

Monday

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Egg, Tomato and Scallion Sandwich- I would say this was the most surprising because I generally do not like eggs. I will eat hard boiled eggs so I thought I would give it a try. It was delicious. Very easy to make and didn’t leave you feeling greasy or gross afterwards. Garren and I decided it would be an awesome breakfast (and totally worked as dinner as well)

 

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Portobello Mushroom Burgers- By far our favorite meal of the week. Who needs meat? These burgers were so juicy and savory. I never would have thought to use a mushroom cap in place of a burger but I am so glad we tried this recipe. If you try any from this blog post make it this one. We don’t have a grill and think that would have made them even better. Garren and I were dying over these. We may have eaten two each. (There’s no meat so it’s healthier right?)

 

Wednesday

 

IMG_2980Quinoa, Chickpea and Avocado Salad-  This is a favorite around our house. We have made this once a week for about a month now. The flavor is so fresh. You just feel healthy eating this, but there is definitely no compromise on flavor. This picture doesn’t do it justice. Click the link and look at her pictures. Guarantee your mouth starts to water. This was the easiest to make, which is why we had it Wednesday. Garren doesn’t get home till a little after six on Wednesdays and then I have activity days at 7.

Thursday

IMG_2995Egg White Spinach Enchilada Omletes- This was a close second to the burgers. The reason this one didn’t win was because it was a lot more time consuming to make, and because it required more skill. I love cooking, and am a very good cook, however our kitchen is a tiny hallway so I don’t love cooking here. You make “tortillas” out of egg whites and then roll the stuffing in them, pour the sauce and cheese over it, bake, then top it with avocado and greek yogurt. They melt in your mouth, they are so good. Garren was so impressed. He was a little skeptical at the idea of them, but quickly jumped on bored.

 

Friday

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Greek Nachos- We love feta cheese so we were excited to try them. These were also delicious. Let’s be honest. I have been cooking from skinnytaste exclusively for over a year now and there has been ONE recipe we didn’t like.These tasted really fresh, but was also very filling. I would add kalamata olives next time. I personally think it would be better as a lunch than a dinner though. I don’t know why. I just decided.

 

Overall it was a great week and we didn’t miss meat at all. That being said vegetarian isn’t a lifestyle choice we are planning on making. We do want to incorporate it into the meal rotation though. I honestly believe we eat way to much meat as a society but that’s a rant for a different day.

What would be an Allred blog post with out pictures of our cutest family member?

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She is obsessed with my water bottle lately. She know it’s supposed to go into her mouth, but she doesn’t understand how to get water yet.

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Playing with Lucy’s “peek-a-boo” bear.

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Garren was kissing her on he cheek over and over again. So when he pulled her away from him she attacked his nose. So cute.