Postpartum Flare-Up

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As a result of my autoimmune disease, I have two problems: one I call a reaction and one I call a flare-up.  The reactions come on suddenly and feel like I’m having an allergic reaction to something: itchy throat, sneezing, congestion, hives, itchy eyes.  They almost always happen late at night.  My allergist calls is “idiopathic anaphylaxis” or “your body just does this”.  I am typically so tuned into my body these days when they begin that I can prevent them from getting bad.  Interestingly enough, nursing my baby calms it down (if they haven’t done any research on this, they really should because I swear it’s true) and fingers crossed, I haven’t had a bad reaction in a year.  The flare-ups are prolonged but more mild: joint pain, aches, irritability, upset stomach, bloating, and just feeling tired and weak.      

I have been gluten/dairy free for three years now and for the most part have been able to manage my autoimmune symptoms by eliminating these foods as well as watching my alcohol intake.  There are times though when my system flares up.  Sometimes I know the cause, and sometimes I have no idea.  I know that I always feel the worst after the holidays during the cold winter months.  I know that stress makes me feel like crap.  I also know that I seem to respond to rapid changes in the weather.  I also know that I have been feeling worse for the past few months (after feeling better than I expected to after my little girl was born in January).  Apparently, all of the hormones that were helping me to feel good initially leave the body after a few months postpartum, leaving me to feel crappy.  

On Monday night, I felt like I was coming down with the flu.  My body and joints ached and I was exhausted.  I’ve been frequently waking up in the mornings feeling hungover (even when I haven’t had a drop of alcohol).  I’m sluggish, achy and irritable.  Some days I’m fine, and then I’m hit with it, which is what happened on Monday.  What was the cause? A cold front was rolling in with a storm and I have been stressed out about sending my little guy off to kindergarten today.  That’s my best guess anyway.  

Just when I feel like I have this all under control, I’m reminded that I don’t and such is the life with an autoimmune disease.  

When this happens, I initially feel like giving up.  Why am I restricting my diet so much if I just feel crappy anyway?  Then, I want to get more restrictive.  My chiropractor (whom I adore) typically has me do a detox when this happens (see my review for the Metagenics Clear Change Detox here) but I’m stearing clear of any detox while I’m breastfeeding.  I thought about doing a “Whole 30” but again, I’m worried about it impacting my milk supply.  I feel like I’m somewhat stuck feeling like this until I’ve weened my little girl, which I don’t plan to do until she’s past her first birthday.

So what should I do?  I’m hoping to use the start of the new school year and this period of time before I head back to work to get things under control again.  My  plan for the month of September is to do the following:

1) Drink 8 ounces of bone broth a day.  I use Danielle Walker’s recipe (found here).

2) Limit alcohol. (I would say none but let’s face it, I’m probably going to have a glass of wine over the holiday weekend and on our anniversary).

3) Limit sugar/processed foods significantly.

4) Practice yoga three times a week at home.

5) Daily walks (because let’s face it, my poor neglected boxer needs the exercise as much as I do!).

6) Increase supplements (my chiropractor also has me increasing my prenatal vitamins right now).

Hopefully, I can get things back on track.  If you have an autoimmune disease, what things do you do to decrease the inflammation and get back on track?  How do you get through a flare-up?

Friday Favorites-End of Summer Edition

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Hello, friends!  It’s Friday, actually the last Friday of summer.  Today, we have kindergarten orientation and then next week I put my little guy on a bus and send him off to school for the first time.  #ithoughtiwasready #notsosureaboutthat

As usual, I’m linking up with Andrea, Erika and Narci to share my favorites from the week.



Last week, we took a last minute trip to Chicago to visit my sister and to give my little guy some time to play with his cousins.  I absolutely love the relationship that these three boys have with one another and love seeing them grow up together.


The day after we got home from Chicago, my parents came up for a visit.  Despite crappy weather, we had a great visit and my hubby and I even got to head out for a date night with free childcare! 


I wore this dress that I picked up a few weeks ago from Target and loved it.  It’s the perfect dress for transitioning from summer into fall!  It’s also very forgiving for a postpartum belly and stuffing your face at dinner.



We went to Red for dinner and it was AMAZING.  The pictures are dark from the lighting in the restaurant but trust me: the food was incredible.  They were also super accommodating with my dietary restrictions.  


We both had the ribeye and it was seriously the best steak I have ever had.  Their mussels and green beans are also to die for!



My husband’s travels abroad are over for now and we have loved having him home.  He’s been taking some time off of work this month and we’ve been doing different things as a family, including going to Holden Arboretum.  The arboretum is one of our favorite spots to visit.  We love the canopy walk, the emergent tower and the adventure woods.  This picture is from the top of the tower.  What I didn’t love? How out of breath I was after climbing 200+ steps to the top.  #mamasoutofshape     



These boots are another favorite find from Target.  I can’t find them online but thought these are super cute too!  How do you feel about the fringe trend?  Cute or too cowgirl?

That’s it for today.  We’re planning to enjoy the last few days of summer together over the next few days while we also work on getting my little guy back on track with an early bedtime in preparation for school starting next week.  I’m also hoping to get the family back on track once school starts with better meal planning, more exercise for me, and a more consistent schedule for my baby girl who is constantly being schlepped around with her brother.  #secondchildproblems  I must confess though, I’m really going to miss the lazy days and sleeping in until 8:00 in the mornings.    

Have a great weekend!!!

Friday Favorites

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Happy Friday, friends!!  I’m linking up again today with Erika, Narci and Andrea to bring you my favorites from the week.  I don’t know where this summer has gone!!  Two weeks from today we have orientation and then my little guy is off to kindergarten!  As much as I’ve loved our pool days this summer and staying home with both of my kiddos, I’m kind of ready for school to start.  I can tell that my little guy is getting bored with me (despite my attempts to keep him busy) and he’s missing his buddies.  I also have to admit that we could use a little break.  Five is hard and he and I have been butting heads lately.  I think we will both benefit from getting into a new routine and he is going to ROCK kindergarten!  



The connection that these two already share is definitely my very favorite.  My sweet girl is always looking for her big brother.  I can’t nurse her anymore with him in the same room and she’s always all smiles and giggles for him.  He also adores her and is so sweet with her.  As much as I’ve been struggling with my little guy in other areas (like listening, whining…typical five year old stuff), I never have to worry about him with his little sister…other than reminding him to be a little more gentle. #insertofmiceandmenreferencehere    


I recently bought some Larabars on sale at Target and we really liked them.  I love the simple ingredients, but don’t really love the price (even when they’re on sale).  After looking at the list, I decided to pick up the ingredients at Costco and make my own.


I took 1 cup of almonds, about 5 dates (pitted), 1/2 cup of chocolate chips and 1-2 T. of peanut butter and ground it up in a food processor.  

I would have used almond butter but didn’t have it on hand.


After it was ground together into a course paste, I formed it into a ball and then rolled it out with a rolling pin on parchment paper.


I cut the dough into bars.


And stored them on parchment paper in a tupperware container in the fridge.

IMG_3639 They turned out really well (despite the way they look in the pictures) and I think they will become a new regular snack for us.  I might try mixing up the ingredients too.  Next time, I might try using coconut oil instead of peanut butter for an “Almond Joy” flavor.

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On Wednesday, I shared a peek at our dinner/bath/bedtime routine.  It’s by far my least favorite part of the day but I think I’ve finally gotten it down (although sometimes there may be a glass of wine nearby–just sayin’).  I always love reading “A Day in the Life” posts to see how other moms structure their days!



I recently discovered this tasty treat and I’m hooked!  It’s the perfect afternoon pick-me-up when I hit my 2:00 slump.  I have found it at Target, Whole Foods and Heinens.  It also comes in a yummy mocha flavor! 



And speaking of afternoon treats, I found these on sale at Target this week for $1.50 a bag, which is crazy!!  I may have bought four bags.  #ishouldhaveboughtmore

That’s it for today.  I hope you have a fabulous weekend.  I’m packing up the kids for an impromptu road trip to Chicago to visit my sister and give my little guy some time with his cousins before school starts.  Wish me luck!!

A Day in the Life-Dinner and Bedtime Routine

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I’m often asked about how I manage to make dinner most nights with two little kids so I thought I would share a little bit about the insanity that is the dinner and bedtime hours.  These two hours are by far my least favorite time of the day and I often cringe at the thought of getting through it.  I’m typically on my own during it due to my husband’s commute so it’s taken some time to get the routine down.  I’m not going to lie, some days I do it while slowly sipping a glass of wine, and some days things come together and it’s smooth sailing.  

I always enjoy reading “A Day in the Life” posts.  It’s interesting to see how other moms structure their days so hopefully this will be interesting to you too!


Let the madness begin and start making dinner!

I try to do a little prep work for dinner time earlier in the day.  On this day, we were having chicken so I marinated the chicken around 4:00.  


Also, if my little guy earns screen time for the day, this is when I use it he watches something or plays on the iPad.  I like to save it for the end of the day because it keeps him busy when I’m making dinner and it serves as a good incentive for him to get his toys cleaned up because he knows that has to happen first. 


I get my baby girl in her highchair and start feeding her while I simultaneously cook dinner.



My other girl starts to sit by her bowl waiting for her own dinner at this time too.

 I also try to do some of the clean-up before serving dinner if I have time.

My little guy is really into serving himself family-style these days but sometimes I serve it up individually because it’s faster.  I make up a plate for the two of us, one that I save for my hubby for when he gets home and then I throw the rest in a container for my husband’s lunch the next day.  


Dinner is served!


I have learned that ending screen time consistently at 6:00 when dinner is ready helps me to avoid any melt-downs about turning it off.  I can also predict that unless we are having tacos, pasta or burgers, there will be some complaining about dinner, but he’ll eat it anyway.

If I’m lucky, the baby will eat some Cheerios in her high chair during dinner but on fussy days, I end up holding her while I eat, which is getting more and more challenging.


Dinner is finished and we all head upstairs for bath time.

I bathe my baby girl first.  Then, she plays while I either give my little guy a shower or start him in the bath after I tell him six times to get undressed, go to the bathroon and get in the tub.  


If he takes a bath, I wash him first and then let him play in the water while I finish getting her ready for bed and nurse her.  I tell him when it’s time to get out of the water and he dries off and gets his pajamas on by himself.  We have a “Jack and Jill” bathroom, which I love because I can easily keep an eye on him while I’m in her room.


The baby is down and I help my little guy brush his teeth and get in bed.  Daddy usually comes home around this time and reads to him while I take a shower.  Otherwise, I take a quick shower and then read to him.  We’re reading chapter books these days and he can’t get enough so we read for awhile if we can.


Lights out for my little guy!

I finish up any dishes that are left and hopefully, by 8:00 I’m off duty to enjoy my evening, which means watching a show, folding some laundry and maybe blogging.

This is an ideal night.  On other nights, my little girl wakes up and I have to rock her to settle her and get her back to sleep and my little guy plays around and finds about ten excuses to come back downstairs.  One of the conditions for earning screen time the next day is to have a good bedtime (which means he can only get up once after he has been put to bed).  This typically helps and he’s usually asleep by 8:00.

That’s how we do dinner and bedtime in our house.  What’s your routine like?  What are your tricks to getting through the craziness that is the bewitching hours?

See you on Friday with my favorites from the week!

What’s Cooking In My Kitchen

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It’s been another low key week of cooking in my kitchen, which means a lot of salads and tacos.  Those definitely seem to be my “go to” meals when I’m getting lax about meal planning or when I don’t feel like cooking (because we’ve been at the pool every day).  Honestly, I could eat a salad for dinner just about every night, but that doesn’t go over so well with the boys.  I’m hoping to get back on track with meal planning this week.

Despite my lack of meal planning on a daily basis, I did manage to come up with a few good meals to share…

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I shared on Instagram last week my love for Garlic Expressions, which is made here in Ohio.  The ingredients are natural (although I do wish it was made with olive oil instead of canola) and it’s great on so many things.  I love it as a simple marinade for grilled chicken.

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I also love it as a dressing for a yummy gluten free pasta salad.  This one had leftover rotisserie chicken, chopped fresh spinach, diced fresh carrots, diced red onion, sundried tomatoes, and kalamata olives.  I also love to add some salami or pepperoni and some artichoke hearts if I have them on hand.  A little bit of grated zucchini in another great addition.  I don’t love zucchini but I do love to grate it and throw it in with pasta or rice during the summer.  This is also a great way to get your non veggie eaters to eat it.


On Saturday night, we had friends over and fired up the smoker for the first time this summer.  My husband takes charge when it comes to smoking and we had ribs and polish sausage, which were both awesome!  We have this smoker and have been really happy with it.  The food was so good on Saturday that I forgot to snap any pictures but I did take this one last night when we had leftovers.  I made this Roasted Potato Salad recipe to accompany the meat, which is my very favorite summer potato salad recipe.  It’s gluten/dairy/egg free and it doesn’t contain mayo so it’s perfect for the summer heat.  If you can tolerate dairy, I recommend mixing in some crumbled goat cheese, which is how I used to prepare it before going dairy free.  I also must confess that I increase the bacon by a few strips.


For dessert, I made this recipe for Peach Blueberry Crisp.  I modified it by using gluten free oats and flour and substituted ghee for the butter.  I also decreased the sugar a bit, mixing in 1/3 cup of sugar into the fruit instead of 1/2 cup.  It was really delicious!  I love making crisps in the summer because it’s such an easy way to make one dessert (gluten/dairy free) that everyone will enjoy and all of the fresh fruit is so good right now!! I simply serve regular ice cream to those who can eat it and dairy free ice cream to those who cannot.  

For more ideas for cobblers and crisps, be sure to check out my Pinterest board here.

That’s all I’ve got for today.  I’m looking forward to kicking off August today and trying to make the most of our last few weeks before school starts.  If you’re looking for me, I’ll probably be at the pool.  Again.

See you on Wednesday!!

What’s Up Wednesday – July

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I’m not sure how, but it’s the end of the month, which means I’m linking up with The Larson Lingo, Pinterest Told Me To and Mix and Match Family for What’s Up Wednesday. 

WUWquestions What We’re Eating This Week…

 I’m in desperate need of going to the grocery store so it’s been slim pickings around here so far this week.  Last night, the boys had Stouffer’s lasgana and I made a simple pasta salad with chicken for me.


On Monday, I highlighted some other things I’ve been cooking lately, including a yummy pasta recipe by Danielle Walker.

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 For more family friendly gluten free/dairy free dinner ideas, check out my weekly series on Mondays! 

What I’m Reminiscing About…


Having my niece here this month had me reminiscing about past visits.


It’s crazy how much they have all changed in four years! 

What I’m Loving…

My hubby has been traveling a lot for work over the past few months, including a two week trip away in July, and we are all loving that Daddy is home!!!

What We’ve Been Up To…

 We’ve been busy this month and making the most out of summer!

IMG_3451My little guy and I had a date at the movies.


We enjoyed an absolutely beautiful day downtown.


We visited the USS COD, which my kiddo loved.  I highly recommend checking this out!


He was especially excited to “shoot missiles” into Lake Erie.  

This was his favorite part of the day and I love how much he gets into stuff like this!


We also checked out the new renovation of Public Square and the fountains were a big hit!  He was drenched!


We went to the zoo to check out the new tiger exhibit and the new 4-D theater.  Feeding the giraffes is always a favorite too.


We also went to the Lake Farmpark to see the new playground area, which is awesome and just what the Farmpark needed!


And we saw the cutest little baby piglets that were under a week old!!

 What I’m Dreading…

 I am not looking forward to having to pack a lunch every day once school starts.  One of my least favorite chores, for sure!

 What I’m Working On…

Getting my little guy ready to start school next month, which means new clothes, shoes and a backpack.  He’ll be wearing a uniform next year and I am loving how easy this is making things!!

What I’m Excited About…

I am so excited about my little guy starting kindergarten next month.  I’ve been dreading this day for the past five years and now that it’s here, I can’t wait.  He is so ready to go, so excited about school, and so bored spending every day with Mommy!  I’m looking forward to seeing him make new friends, seeing what his strengths are in school, and becoming a part of this community.  He’s going to rock it! 

What I’m Watching/Reading…


We’re still reading a lot of Geronimo Stilton and I’m still not reading much of anything else!  I have seriously lost my reading mojo and I’m hoping to get back on track once school starts.

 What I’m Listening To…  


If you have little ones, I highly recommend the Jewel (Children’s) Radio station on Pandora.  I play it in the mornings when I want something soothing and we all love it.  It actually plays enjoyable music instead of obnoxious kids tunes.  

What I’m Wearing…

I can’t remember the last time I took a picture of an outfit.  I’ve been wearing either these shorts from Anthropologie (which are the best shorts ever!!) or these denim shorts from Old Navy with a flowy top that’s easy to nurse in.  I’m finally fitting into a lot of my clothes again though so I’m looking forward to fall clothes.

What I’m Doing This Weekend…

We’re having some friends over for dinner on Saturday and hopefully firing up the smoker for the first time this summer which means this is in our future…IMG_9093

What I’m Looking Forward to Next Month…

 My parents are visiting, my husband’s brother and his family will be in town for a quick visit, school starts and I might try to take a quick trip to Chicago to see my sister.

What Else is New…

I’m still hoping to do some housekeeping on the blog over the next month to clean things up a bit. 

What Was My Favorite Part About Summer?


 We spent a whole lot of time here and swimming has really clicked for my little guy this year!

That’s it for today.  See you on Friday with my favorites from the week!

What’s Cooking In My Kitchen?

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Happy Monday, friends!  I’ve been a little MIA over the past two weeks, which means things have been busy around here.  My hubby was away on a business trip for two weeks and my niece/goddaughter came up for a visit.  We had a great time and I think this pic pretty much sums up the special relationship she has with my kiddos.


Come back on Wednesday to check out some of the fun things we did around Cleveland during her visit.

I must admit I didn’t do a ton of cooking while she was here and generally kept things pretty simple for dinners but I did have a few good ones to share…

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We enjoyed Danielle Walker’s Pepperoni Pizza Pasta one night and both my little guy and my niece LOVED it!!  It was so simple to make.  I substituted spinach for the kale, and I actually used gluten free spaghetti instead of the butternut squash noodles because that’s what I had on hand.  I topped theirs with parmesan and skipped the nutritional yeast.


We indulged on chocolate chip pancakes with strawberries and a side of sausage one night, which is one of my very favorites!  King Arthur Gluten Free Pancake Mix is my favorite mix.


We ate our share of salads too.  This one was topped with grilled chicken, cucumbers, red onion, tomatoes, olives, balsamic vinaigrette and hummus.


I also used this marinade again to make pork tacos.


I grilled the pork and some pineapple and then chopped it and mixed it all together.  I topped the tacos with cilantro and onion.


The next night we had leftovers and I topped some cilantro-lime rice with the pork/pineapple mixture, some pico and guacamole. #cookonceeattwice

This week, I’m hoping to get back into our usual routine and will be keeping our dinners super simple because we have swim lessons every day this week, which means a lot of time at the pool.

I hope you all have a great week!!!  See you on Wednesday!

Friday Favorites – A Craft and a Sale

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It’s Friday and I’m linking up again with Erika, Andrea, and Narci to bring you my favorites from the week.  My hubby has been on another business trip this week (boo!) but my niece is visiting for two weeks and helping with the kids, which has been amazing!  We’re currently watching Bring It On while I’m writing this.  #girltime



Back in the spring, we were at the Cleveland Botanical Garden and they were hanging up flowers made from recycled water bottles in their children’s garden.  I decided to try this at home and we finally finished them last week.  I absolutely LOVE how they turned out and my little guy is excited to make some more.


To make them, we collected about six plastic bottles.  We used different bottles but I found that a 16 ounce Coke bottle and SmartWater bottles work the best.  I cut the bottles in half and then cut slits into them length wise to make the petals.  I used rubber bands to shape the petals the way I wanted them.

IMG_3238Next, I used an acrylic primer I bought at a craft store to apply a coat of white primer on all of them.

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We used acrylic craft paint to paint the flowers.



Once the paint was dry, I applied a protective clear coat to help preserve them outside.


I displayed them by wiring them to some garden stakes and placing them in flower pots on our covered deck.


And voila! the finshed product!

One change I would have made: I removed the caps from the bottles before we painted them.  In retrospect, I should have left the caps on and painted them with the caps.  I think having the caps on would have made displaying them a little easier.  The Botanical Garden displayed them by tacking them on to a decorative fence which would be really cute too!number-437918__180


I’ve talked about my love for Frontera Skillet Sauces on here before.  Now, they make marinades and I love them just as much.  This one if really good on pork tenderloin.  I marinated the pork in this for about 10 hours and then grilled it.  I served it with fruit, salad and corn on the cob.  It would also be really good chopped with some grilled pineapple on tacos (per the package instructions) with onion and cilantro.  Super simple weeknight meal with real ingredients!



It’s that time of the year again and I can’t wait to see everyone’s picks for this year’s anniversary sale.  I checked it out online and in the store yesterday and I have to say, my favorite items were the shoes, accessories and kids clothes/shoes.  babyshoes

I picked up these Robeez for my baby girl to wear this winter at a great price!


I also picked up this super cozy hoodie for my little guy.


I have my eye on these shoes for fall for me, which I think would make my mom uniform of distressed denim with hoodies and button-downs extra cool.


I’m in need of a new white tee and picked this one up, which comes in a ton of colors.


I need another scarf like I need a hole in my head but I love this one!


I also love all of the monogrammed bags by Cathy’s Concepts, including this messenger back.  You can check out their other items here.

That’s it for today.  I hope you all have a fabulous weekend!!

Holiday Weekend Meal Prep

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Hello, friends!  I hope you all had a fabulous and safe holiday weekend with your families and friends.  We are all overly tired and back to our normal routine this week after a weekend of a lot of quality time together as a family and this is how we were feeling yesterday…


Over the weekend, we had very few plans and actually had four days together.  My husband has been working and traveling a lot and we were really looking forward to some quality time together as a family.  My goal for the weekend was to have food on hand to easily throw together for all of our meals and snacks so I wasn’t spending a lot of time cooking.  I also always enjoy indulging in “fun” foods over a holiday weekend and planned accordingly.  

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On Thursday evening, I cleaned and cut up some fruit and veggies for the weekend.

(And started off the holiday weekend with a Moscow Mule!!)

And the over the weekend, we indulged in things like tacos,

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and yummy sandwiches.


The boys were also in charge of cooking our dinner one night and cooked hot dogs over a campfire.


Which was followed up with s’mores!  

On a separate note, have you ever added peanut butter to a s’more?  #amazing


We also typically do a big breakfast at some point over a long weekend (my hubby’s specialty) and I made sure I had the necessary supplies on hand.  I also tried to balance out the “fun” food with salads, veggies/hummus, and fruit.


Our weekend was filled with a trip to the Arboretum, lunch out with friends, swimming, fishing, fireflies, campfires and lots of baby snuggles and it was perfect.  I only wish I could figure out a way to capture this laid back time together every weekend!! #anafternoonbeeralwayshelps