All the Sun For You

A mom, two boys, a husband, and a whole lot of adventure!


The Monday Snapshot – My Sweet Boy

Matthew is 3 now, and everyone says 3 is harder than 2. In some ways, I agree, but in others, I do not.

Matthew certainly knows what he wants and tries very hard to succeed in his endeavors (like his dad), even if he knows he’s, “making Mommy mad” (oh, the way he says MAAAAD is so cute!). But he is also just the sweetest thing I’ve ever met! He’s always been a sweet boy, but today … Today melted my heart.

(Jackson was howling in his bag in the front seat.)

Matthew – “Mommy put cat in car.”
Me – “which cat is that, Matthew?”
Matthew – “Lily.”
Me – “No, buddy, it’s Jack. Do you remember where Lily is?”
(He points up to the sky.)
Matthew – “Up high.”
Me – “In the clouds, huh?”
Matthew – “Uh huh. I want her back, Mommy.”

Then he waves to the clouds and softly says, “Hi, Lily,” with the sweetest smile on his face.

I teared up as we both blew her a kiss from the car.



Paleo Week 1 – Getting Into It!

This marked our first week of going Paleo for B and me (the boys are already primarily Paleo in their diets).  The week went really well and I did the bulk of the cooking, which I’m really enjoying.  The cookbook we’re using is “Everyday Paleo – Family Cookbook” by Sarah Fra.oso.  We’ve really enjoyed getting familiar with the recipes and how they’re designed.  No portion sizes are given – she just says, “serves 5” or something similar.  I’ve learned to read that first before planning any meals – we don’t need 2 pounds of sirloin to share between the two of us!

Sunday, 07/20/2014  *** Ground Pork and Apple Sliders ***

B made these awesome pork and apple sliders.  They were to die for and we did not modify the recipe at all.  We used Boston Bib lettuce as “buns” and it was perfect!  We paired them with the worst steamed green beans of all time (yes – legumes – we had fresh ones in the fridge to use up and the boys love them) but that didn’t matter because the sliders were THAT GOOD!


Monday, 07/21/2014  *** Tomato Soup with Chicken ***

I made tomato soup and it was pretty good – but required some doctoring.  We added cayenne pepper, dried basil, and Bavarian seasoning to it.  I put a bit too much garlic in it.  I did not puree the soup long enough and it was chunkier than we’d normally prefer, but still good.  I used shredded rotisserie chicken as a topping – I felt no need to make my own chicken.


Tuesday, 07/22/2014  *** Mini Meatloaves with Homemade Ketchup ***

Meatloaf is a big hit with the kids, but since we keep them on a rather strict Paleo diet, we get pretty frustrated with the amount of bread used in traditional meatloaf.  We were excited to try these mini-meatloaves and they didn’t disappoint.  B had made the ketchup on Sunday so that was nice to have ready to go.  I added cayenne pepper, which was a nice kick.  We both agreed that we’d sauté the carrots and garlic first before mixing with the meat next time.  They were a bit too crunchy and at times, we felt like we were eating raw garlic.  We also realized that with a non-stick pan, there was no need to grease the pan.  We paired this with mashed cauliflower made with coconut milk and it was great!


The ketchup that B made is just awesome!  We did add some of it to our pork sliders, but used the rest of the jar to top off our mini-meatloaves.  B prefers to puree it next time to smooth it down, but I love it the way it is!


Wednesday, 07/23/2014  *** Mexican Beef Skewers with Chipotle Cream Sauce and Basil Pesto ***

This is the big winner so far!  I would put this meal into our weekly rotation for sure.  We were both looking so forward to making these Mexican skewers!  I prepped the marinade in the morning while the kids were up and got the meat marinating by 10:00 AM.  While they napped, I put the meat and tomatoes on the skewers and wrapped them in foil before putting them back in the fridge for more marinating.  I also steamed up some Brussels sprouts (with just garlic salt) and then put those on different skewers so we could just grill everything together (and crisp up those sprouts – yummy!) when we got home from swim lessons and kickboxing.  This worked out great!  They were perfect and the only thing we’d change is adding mushrooms to the skewers.  We would serve them again with Brussels sprouts for sure.


The best part of this meal was the finishing touches – the sauces!  I made the chipotle cream sauce and cilantro pesto as the kids napped and the recipes were spot-on – they took just 5 and 10 minutes to make.  Everything was in the fridge and ready for cooking at 2:30.  The combo of the cocoa marinade and the two sauces was ridiculous, and the pesto was great on the sprouts!


* A quick note – we had a lot of pesto left over so we saved it for later, hoping we’d find something to make with it.  Turns out, there is a breakfast egg recipe that calls for it, and B made those Friday morning and they were AWESOME!  We still have pesto leftover, so we’ll be making the eggs again this week!


Thursday, 07/24/2014  *** Fiesta Chicken Soup ***

This soup was fantastic – FANTASTIC!  B and I both frequented a place here in town, long before we met each other, and we both still talk about how great their chicken tortilla soup was (the place went out of business eons ago).  Whenever we have a chicken tortilla soup anywhere, we compare it to Mondo’s.  After having one bite of this soup, I said, “This is just like Mondo’s, but without the sour cream, tortilla strips, and cheese!”  He said, “I KNEW you were going to say that – I agree!”  And you know – it was just like Mondo’s.  We’ll be making it again, but we have enough leftovers that we won’t be making it for at least a week.  HA!


I did make a slight modification.  When they said salt and pepper to taste, I took that very loosely and decided that cayenne pepper would be better than regular pepper.  And I probably put in 1/2 a teaspoon of chipotle seasoning because you can’t beat chipotle flavor.  Oh – and I did put some cheese on top.  I couldn’t help it and desperately needed the calories after the workout I did this morning!

* A quick note – this made the best leftovers!  We are not into leftovers… at all.  We both agreed that this was a solid leftover meal that made us both very happy!

Friday, 07/25/2014  *** Date Night ***

My in-laws texted us in the early afternoon asking if we wanted them to watch the kids some time this weekend so we could go out.  YES PLEASE!  Because B was leaving town Sunday morning, we asked them to come that night!  We went out to the newest hot spot and both agreed that it was going to be a free day – and we shared a pizza as an appetizer and I had lasagna.  B had lamb.  We both had dessert.  They were not Paleo friendly.  The end.  (Actually no, not the end.  It was DELICIOUS!)

Saturday, 07/26/2014  *** Whole Greek Chicken with Roasted Garlic ***

This was terrific!  I cooked the chicken upside down, with the breast on the bottom, and we think that kept the breast really moist.  B wished there had been more eat-able skin, but the skin he did have, he loved.  I put asparagus in with it about half-way through cooking and it wasn’t good.  The asparagus was way too thin (we don’t have a great selection of asparagus here lately, for some reason).  I put 1.5 lemons in my 4 pound chicken and saved 1/2 a lemon to use on the asparagus.  Once the chicken was done, I squeezed the cooked lemons onto the meat and it was to die for!  We cooked 4 garlic bulbs (yes, BULBS) and ate them ALL.  This is a repeater!


Week in Review:

  • Weight Lost:  3.4 pounds
  • Body Fat % Lost:  0.8%
  • Noteworthy Points:  The week went ridiculously well.  I did not expect to get into it so easily.  The fabulous recipes are the sole reason it’s going so well.  When we did this in the past, I was very resistant because I wasn’t in love with the recipes in the cookbook we were using.  I’m so glad B picked up this recipe book!  There was only one recipe we weren’t super excited about (tomato soup), and even that one, we’d try again with modifications.
  • How I feel:  I feel TERRIFIC!  My body just feels light.  I have no water weight and I’m looking as trim as I’m feeling.  I am not at all disappointed when I step on the scale – even our date night only cost me 0.6-0.8 pounds which is already gone.  Besides the date night and my abuse of, we have stuck to our Paleo plan 100%!  I truly feel that this is the lifestyle shift we needed, and will stick to.



Sharing My Findings

As I embark on the last 5 weeks of my fitness challenge, we’ve decided to follow a Paleo diet for ourselves (we always follow one for the kids – more on that another time).  We were strict Paleo right before Matthew turned 1 and we both have never felt better!  Because weight loss is a side-effect of following a Paleo diet, we figured this was as good a time as any to get back on our healthy eating lifestyle.  I can say that just 4 days in, I feel great!

Because I’m a tracker of all things in my life, I’m going to keep track of the recipes we use each day for our family dinners.  I’ll be tracking all of this on my Paleo Adventure page and then moving each week’s worth of content to a post every Sunday (or so).  I’ll be keeping notes on weight loss, how I feel, how it went in general, etc. each week.

This really is an exercise for myself, so I don’t expect anyone to follow along or care about this.  But in case you’re looking for great Paleo recipes, or are curious to see how this way of life changes my life, feel free to read along each week!


5 Weeks (NOT What You’re Thinking!)

I’ve been keeping something rather close to the vest lately – unless you follow me on MyFitnessPal (Josey and Esperanza).

I’ve been kicking my ass into fitness gear.  Like – seriously.

I met B when I enrolled in an intense 10-week fitness course that was just local here in Iowa – it has since spread to 9 states (check it out if you’re in Colorado, Nebraska, South Dakota, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana, or North Carolina.  B has known the guy who started this since he was 8 years old (B, not the guy) and he is a stand-up dude who wants nothing more than to help people exceed their fitness goals!).  It’s pretty serious and meets 6 days a week, doing true martial arts kickboxing 3 of those days and resistance bands for strength the other 3 days.  This program is insanely effective and the first time around (more than 8 years ago!), I lost 7.3% body fat and 12.6 pounds.  I was, admittedly, a bit disappointed in the weight loss but the body fat loss was super high for a female.   I did this program for 4 years and quit once we were failing miserably at getting pregnant (sigh).

So – I have been struggling to lose the last 10 pounds of pregnancy weight and I knew what had to be done.  I had to enroll again in this program – the one that works.  The one I know.  The one I trust.

Today was 5-week testing.  I’m down 4.7% body fat and 12.8 pounds.  The second 5 weeks are usually more effective, especially for women, so I’m hoping to at least double those numbers by 10 weeks.  I know I can do it.  We’re going strict Paleo in this house on Monday for the remaining 5 weeks and that should really melt the pounds off.  I’m super excited!

My stats so far:

Stats 2


I’m pretty excited about all of the stats, especially when I compare them to my 5-week testing from 8 years ago (yes, I have that all electronically), but I’m most excited about my mile run time.  I was shooting to take a minute off of the run time by 5 weeks, but I took 1:22 off of it and am almost under 9 minutes.  I better be under 9 minutes in 5 weeks.  B thinks I’ll be able to do it in 8:15-ish territory.  I’m shooting for 8:27.

This whole thing is a competition with all other people in the 10-week program – and the person with the most changes wins $1,000.  When I ran into Mr. F who owns this crazy-successful franchise two weeks before I started, I said, “Mr F, I’m coming back, and I’m in it to win it.”  I know what to do, I’m off to an insane start, and I plan to win.  And if I don’t win, I’ll at least look good losing.  HA!

Oh – and I hit my pre-pregnancy weight today!  Halle-freaking-luiah!  It only took 1 year and 24 days.  Good Lord!

(I was hoping to have the “before” photo they took of me, but they don’t give those out anymore at 5-week testing.  I will post my “before” and “after” photos right after I get them in 5 weeks!)



Wordy Wednesday – Everyone’s Healing

Thank you to everyone for your kind words and thoughts about our Lily. We have had some really hard times here, but we’re doing better by the day.

We’ve been very surprised by how Matthew has taken this. We weren’t sure he’d understand, but he surely does and he has been very sad the last two days. He’s been waking up at night, telling us he misses us, resisting fun things like camp and friends because he doesn’t want to leave us, and saying, “I miss/want her,” when Lily comes up. We knew he loved her, but we didn’t know he’d miss her so badly.

My friend suggested a few months ago that we get a plush kitty that looks like Lily that Matthew can hold onto and love when he’s missing her. Being just 3, I wasn’t sure if he’d “get it” but that didn’t stop me from overnighting one yesterday. The stuffy arrived today during Matthew’s nap and I brought her to him right when he woke up. I said she’s his new “Lily Cat” who he can hug and love when he misses his Lily. He immediately said, “she’s in the clouds. Playing with ribbons. Pink ones and white ones,” and then hugged “Lily Cat” tightly and smiled. He seemed relieved. He insisted on taking her in the car (he doesn’t take any stuffies in the car – just wants balls and books) and hugged her the entire 30 minute drive to speech. “Lily Cat” had dinner with us on the deck, played basketball, and danced with us. At bedtime, Matthew asked for “my Lily Cat” and held her tight during books and singing, and fell asleep with her in his arms.

I am still amazed that Matthew understands this so well. I am even more amazed by the turn-around in his mood upon getting his “Lily Cat.” My little boy was hurting. He was confused, and sad, and insecure. And so were we. We shouldn’t be surprised by his emotions because he is a little human being with the same emotions as us, but we just didn’t think he’d “get it.” But he does.

Everyone here is healing slowly. B has taken this quite hard, I’ve had more moments of tears and sobbing than I can count, Matthew is obviously struggling (but seemingly better now), and Janie and Jackson are depressed and not eating. But each day is easier. Each day is a day further from the raw pain and a day closer to getting Lily’s ashes home with us where she belongs.

We’ll all be fine, it will just take time.

But we’ll miss Lily forever. That is for sure.


And Then She Was Gone

Lily is playing with an unending supply of ribbons in the clouds. Ribbons are her favorite thing in the world (besides me).

Last night was rough, because I went to bed knowing it was our last sleep together. All the signs were there. I knew the morning was going to be hard.

Lily was just so tired, and her breathing was very labored, this morning. I told B first thing that it was time, and he agreed. His parents headed down but she started feeling worse before they were here, so my neighbor came up to be with the kids until Bs folks arrived.

I really didn’t want to take her to the ER vet, but that was the only option for us on a Sunday. It turned out being perfect for us, and I’d choose to say goodbye there again in the future, when necessary. The tech was so kind and took us to a comfortable, darkened room with a sofa, lamp, and end table… and there were clouds on the ceiling. They took Lily back to put the catheter in her arm and swiftly brought her back to us. We wrapped her in blankets and held her lovingly as they got the vet. The vet was fantastic and as swift as we asked. Lily took a few breaths as we whispered in her ear that we loved her. I told her to chase those ribbons all the way to the clouds. “Red ones, blue ones, green ones, and orange ones. No one is going to take them away from you. Chase them, sweet girl. I love you.”

And then she was gone.


THIS Moment in Time – A First

We’re talking about weaning. I dropped the morning wake-up nursing yesterday and it went OK (once there was a yogurt distraction). I dropped it because it wasn’t needed after having fed Bryson just 2 hours earlier, not really because I wanted to start weaning. But it went well so I’m going to try to be consistent.

Tonight, as I was sobbing about Lily, B took Bryson for bedtime books and then decided to rock him. He fell asleep, and is sleeping soundly. If OK with B, I’d like to make this a routine.

Dropping that bedtime feeding last with Matthew hurt my heart. I still cry thinking about the last time I nursed him. The last time I nursed Bryson to sleep may just be last night, when he slept all night with me in a hotel bed, nursing off and on. It was our best hotel night to date with him, and being perfectly honest, I really enjoyed it! If that’s our last nurse-to-sleep at bedtime feeding, then what a sweet memory for me. I’m happy with it. No tears.

Of course tonight may be a fluke and I may be nursing him to sleep again tomorrow. But tonight may be the first of many nights of B putting Bryson to bed, and that’s ok with me. It really is.


Thank You, Lily


You’ve been the best cat in the world. You helped me through the two hardest times of my life, and taught me how to give sub-q injections before I knew I’d need to be giving them to myself one day soon. I always thought, “if Lily can handle two daily injections, I can handle them too.” Your bravery and courage have astounded me through all of your health ups and downs. You always pulled through for me, even when I was sure we were at the end.

Old girl, I’m afraid we’re really at the end this time. I told you tonight that it’s ok to go, and that if you want to let go while snuggling beside me tonight, that would be best. I’ve emailed Dr. Dan to let him know we’re coming in Monday morning.

My heart is broken.

But it’s also full. You gave us more time than anyone thought you could, and you fought like the champ you always are. Dr. Dan told me that we’d know when it was time. I know now. Even your dad knows, and he’s usually in denial regarding your health. We all loved on you tonight, and I’ll bring you to bed with me tonight for one of our last two sleeps. I’ll do it happily, but with a lump in my throat and a pain in my heart.

As my dad says, this is the cycle of life. I wish it wasn’t. I wish we could keep you forever. You are our boys first pet, one of the many things that makes you so special to us. You taught them to love animals, pet gently, and give kisses often. Thank you for that, old girl.

Thank you for all of your love. Thank you for all of your snuggles. Thank you for all of your kisses. Thank you for the countless nights of purring in my ear. Thank you for loving my whistle. Thank you for loving your dad almost as much as you love me. Thank you for all of your unwavering trust. Thank you for your endless companionship.

Thank you for it ALL.

I love you to the moon and back, Lily.