Meal Planning

    Week One: Budget Friendly Meal Plan

    Meal planning has always been something I have loved to do. During pregnancy, it has become slightly more difficult. I never know what sounds good to me. But, I still set aside a time and sit down to plan. I just posted how I am doing an extreme budget for groceries. So I thought it would be helpful to whoever does the meal planning in your family if I gave some ideas of how we grocery shop and meal plan on a budget. I try to stick to the meal plan as close as possible, but sometimes we end up going out to eat for whatever reason. I will post my original meal plan, not what happens after we throw it off by going out to eat.

    Like I stated, this is for an extreme budget, so the meals are very simple and we do a lot of repeats. But, it SAVES money! Here is our meal plan for Monday, June 4th- Sunday, June 10th:

    Monday:
    shrimp tostadas
    Tuesday:
    shrimp tostadas
    Wednesday:
    dinner at my in-laws
    Thursday:
    Creamy Salmon Zucchini Noodles
    Friday:
    Creamy Salmon Zucchini Noodles
    Saturday:
    Chicago Dogs & brats with chips
    Sunday:
    Chicago Dogs & brats with chips

    With eating on a budget, while pregnant it’s pretty much about the cheapest foods that sound good to me. I try to balance out my not so healthy meals with at least one healthy dinner. It’s all about balance, right? Every single week we go to Devin’s parents for dinner on Wednesdays. I recommend, if you can afford it, to reserve one night a week to a cheap meal out or maybe even have your significant other plan one meal. Even someone like me who loves to cook, likes to not have to cook every single night. Going to Devin’s parents’ house breaks up my week and helps me stick to my meal plan.

    Recipes:
    The good thing about cheap meal planning, the meals are mostly pretty easy to make too. We have a local restaurant that makes these amazing shrimp tostadas and they have become a staple in our house that I recreated. They are simple and delicious and we have them at least a couple times a month. All you have to do is take a tostada shell, spread mayo on it. Then take your shrimp, with the tails removed (either pre-cooked and thawed or boiled and chilled) and lay them over the mayo. I recommend butterflying or splitting them in half so they lay flat and don’t fall off your shell. Then take some slices of avocado and layer that on top of your shrimp. Sprinkle over fresh cilantro, lime juice, and Valentina’s Hot Sauce (NO SUBSTITUTIONS WILL DO) and you are good to go! We eat about three per person.

    For the salmon dish, I found a recipe from the Real Simple Good blog that I’ll be making. The only thing I am doing differently is making it with zucchini noodles instead of sweet potato noodles, since my husband isn’t a fan of sweet potatoes. I’m pretty excited for this dish.

    Chicago Dogs and brats are pretty self-explanatory. But, if you’ve never had a Chicago Dog (CRAZY PERSON), they are pretty simple. Prepare your hot dogs anyway you like (I grill mine). Then place them in a bun, they traditionally go on a poppyseed bun, but I have no access to them, so I use a brat bun. Then layer on sliced tomato, relish (neon green if you can get your hands on it), a dill pickle slice, onions, sport peppers, mustard, and celery salt. For the brats, I boil them in either beer and onion or just water and onion, then grill them. You can even do the same with brats and make then Chicago style, but Devin usually just does mustard on his.

    For the grocery list I will be excluding items like seasonings (unless it’s a special seasoning) and cooking oils. I assume everyone has those essentials. Just pay close attention to recipes even though I provide a list, because it may vary from person to person. I’ll also make the items I actually purchased bold, so when you see my price it reflects what I bought.

    Grocery List:
    shrimp
    tostada shells
    Valentina’s Hot Sauce
    avocado
    cilantro
    mayo
    limes
    salmon fillets (4 required, but I bought a bag)
    bacon
    4 zucchini or 2 sweet potatoes
    3 garlic cloves (I bought a bag of the already peeled garlic)
    full fat coconut milk
    2 packs of brats
    2 packs of hot dogs
    (I buy two of each because we can eat them for lunches too)
    2 packs of brat buns
    bag of chips
    tomatoes
    dill pickles
    white onion
    sport peppers
    relish
    celery salt
    mustard

    Total cost for me:
    Aldi-$23.74
    Walmart-$28.32

    This does not include items I bought that were not part of this specific meal plan (lunch items or household items). But even with those items I still have about $25 left in my budget.

     

    Life

    Tips on Extreme Grocery Budgeting

    Summer is a very expensive time for the McDivitt clan. From the months of May-August (in just our immediate family; our parents, siblings, and the children) we have nine birthdays, as well as Mother’s Day and Father’s Day. Devin’s birthday, our girls’, and mine are all within this timeframe, making things like gift buying a never ending mountain we have to climb over. So I had to become creative with budgeting.

    Devin is our only source of income, so with things like medical bills (from mostly pregnancy), family events, and activities it can be financially draining. I get very little funds each week for my own personal bills, groceries, and my everyday expenses. I’ve been doing the envelope system for close to a year, you can find that post here. I have loved this system and have really learned how to stretch my money. In the past I was setting aside $100 a week for groceries; this includes toiletry and cleaning items needed for the house. Like I previously stated though, with the extra expenses that come with summer that $100 a week grocery budget is a little harder for me to swing. I have been paying close attention to my spending in groceries in the last couple of weeks and noticed I was not spending the full $100, so I decided that I was going to lower my budget to $75 a week.

    I don’t have very many tips, but these are the biggest ones I have found the most helpful in cutting your expenses:

    Buying in Bulk:

    Most people hopefully live within driving distance to a store like Sam’s Club or Costco. I live about an hour away from a Sam’s Club. Bulk item or wholesale stores can be your biggest friend in the budgeting game. Stores like these require a membership fee, but in my opinion it is totally worth it. I will admit, I don’t actually own my own membership card, but both my parents do. I’m not sure if Costco is the same, but at our Sam’s I’ve never had an issue using my parent’s card so that is a huge help not having to pay that fee (but I still highly recommend having a card if you aren’t in the same situation as me).

    Buying in bulk can be a little tricky, when you are on a fixed weekly budget though. So you really have to keep a very good stock of what you have and plan out in advance what items you will get at each visit. With a weekly budget it’s a little harder to stock up on bulk items when you only really make monthly or even bi-monthly visits. Last time I went I stocked up on cleaning items, the next time I go we will need paper products. When I grocery shop, I always keep whatever I don’t spend in the budget, that gives me a little cushion to be able to afford the bulk items when I need them.

    Now I don’t buy all my grocery items here. The only thing I would suggest not purchasing here is fresh vegetables and fruit (unless you have a big family at home and are able to go through it before it goes bad). But here are a few of my must buy bulk item:

    • paper goods.

    Items like paper towels, toilet paper, etc… are my biggest must buy item at bulk stores. At our Sam’s it’s a little above $17 for 15 rolls of paper towels (150 sheets) for their Member Mark brand. At Walmart for the Bounty brand, which I would say quality wise is similar, it’s almost $20 for 8 rolls (165 sheets). I did the math, you get almost 1000 more sheets for $3 less.

    • meats

    Bulk meat can be pricey. But the wonderful thing about it is it can be frozen. I still will only tend to buy it if it’s on sale. Chicken or frozen seafood are usually the two things I buy most often when I am there.

    • spices

    I use a lot of spices. I tend to buy my most frequently used ones in bulk because you will never run out. Most spices can last up to three years if stored properly and I haven’t bought things like; salt, pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, or cumin in at least a year.

    • frozen foods

    Scarlett is a picky eater. She basically lives off of French Toast Sticks and Taquitos. On the weekends, I do make homemade french toast, but it is easier during the week to feed her the frozen kind. I pretty much buy these once  a week. I have’t done this yet, but the next time I go to Sam’s I will be purchasing these items in bulk.

    • cleaning supplies

    I buy all my cleaning products in bulk. They don’t expire and you’ll definitely use them especially with children! I buy my Tide pods, dish pods, dish soap, disinfectant wipes, and sprays all in bulk.

    • freezable dairy items  

    I don’t do this all the time, but I do buy dairy products I can freeze from time to time; mostly butter.

    Meal Plan Similar Meals:

    Another way I save money is meal planning using the same items in each meal. Try to keep your meats the same for each meal. I usually buy two different main meats a week then a meat like bacon or kielbasa sausage.  Here’s an example of our meal planning for a week:
    Tuesday-burgers
    Wednesday-dinner at in-laws
    Thursday-carved turkey & cranberry paninis
    Friday-carved turkey & cranberry paninis
    Saturday-BLTs
    Sunday-BLTs
    (this is our current week meal plan)

    For these meals I’ll reuse the same bread, produce, and condiments for all of the meals. I only have three primary meats; ground beef, turkey, and bacon. While bacon can also be used in the other two meals. This meal planning method not only saves you in cost of groceries, but also saves you from potential food waste.

    Repeat Meals:

    Don’t be afraid to repeat meals or the dirty word “leftovers”. I am not the biggest leftover fan, but luckily I am married to someone who couldn’t care less about them. So I have changed my outlook; I wasn’t afraid of reheating meals, I just didn’t like eating the same meal more than once for dinner and liked variety. But now for both ease and cost I repeat meals or make enough for leftovers pretty much every time I cook a meal. I usually cook about 3-4 different meals a week and then repeat the meals for the other days.

    As I stated above, I don’t have a ton of tips, but the ones listed are a for sure way to get your budget down to a realistic amount when costs have multiplied during the busy times of year. I just went grocery shopping for the above meal plan and odds and ends needed for Scarlett and it was UNDER $75, so it is definitely achievable! At the end of the month I will look at the funds I have left over in my envelope and either keep it in the grocery fund or use it towards summer items we may need.

     

    Motherhood

    My Baby Wishlist and Items I Love

    So when I was trying to gather a list of things I want or need for baby #2  I was thinking to myself, “I wish people would list their wants so I could see what other people are getting for their baby”. So here is a list of everything I want or need for this baby!

    So for Scarlett, I didn’t nurse all that long, but I’m going to try my very best to breastfeed with baby #2 (which you can read all about in my next post). So I need a good nursing cover. I love the 5-in-1 covers that serve as a nursing cover, car seat and stroller cover, high chair cover, and grocery cart cover.

    My cousin bought  a MatiMati Baby nursing cover and has a coupon so I will either choose between that brand or the Pobibaby one I found  on Amazon before she had the coupon code.

    My next thing that is a must is for sleeping. When I had my c-section with Scarlett, I wasn’t prepared at all since it wasn’t expected. I didn’t know I wouldn’t be able to lay flat in my bed for quite a long time and had no real sleeping spot for Scarlett, because I just assumed she would sleep in her crib! I couldn’t have been more wrong! We spent the first months sleeping in our Lazy Boy recliner together, then in the Pack n’ Play bassinet (in our bed), then in a sleeper swing, then in a Boppy pillow (in bed). None of these were the safest option for a baby in her first year of life and I never got sleep. I was so paranoid something would happen. So I was looking into two options; the Dock-a-Tot or the Halo Bassinet. After researching a ton and going off my past experience with Scarlett and counting on sleeping in a chair for awhile, until I can comfortably make the transfer. I decided to go with the Halo Bassinet. Their description of their product sealed the deal when it says, the collapsable side is great for mothers recovering from a c-section. COUNT ME IN! Depending on funds, I want the one pictured above; it’s got all these great features. But there is a more basic model for about $100 less that would be perfectly functional.

    The next item was recommended to me by my friend and it was also pretty high up on a list of the top whatever ring slings. I loved it because it says it’s great for warmer weather, which our baby girl will be born at the end of summer, but we usually have no fall and it’s hot until winter decided to rear it’s ugly head. Also, it is in a great price range! I had a few other recommendations, but they were way out of my range. I already have an Ergo carrier from Scarlett, which I struggled to put on by myself, but it was perfect for my hubby to use and we had a Boba wrap that I loved, but it was a lot of fabric. So this time I decided I am going to invest in a ring sling and I am going with the Wildbird brand one. But the other two options are also great if you have longer arms and are more flexible (Ergo) or don’t mind the access material (Boba).

    This isn’t a must need item, more of a want. If baby #2 is anything like Scarlett, she will love blankies. Scarlett always carries around her “Troll blankie” and as a baby she always carried around blankets. I found this adorable water color floral blanket from Target from the Little Unicorn brand that I will probably be getting for baby #2. It’s Muslin cotton and will be the perfect size to use for her carseat and for her to carry around when she gets to that stage.

    Swaddle blankets are a must! Scarlett loved to be swaddled. I sucked at swaddling with actual blankets, but I just need a refresher course. I did use both swaddle blankets and the velcro ones. Just depending on the situation. If she was awake I would attempt to swaddle her with a regular blanket and if she was restless in her sleep, I’d whip out our trusty velcro one and get her all snug as a bug. Any brand does well for swaddle blankets, I just recommend getting the Muslin cotton ones. Also be on the lookout at places like TJ Maxx or HomeGoods, they usually have packs of three that are cheaper than most places.

    I have a lot of items that we already own from Scarlett that we will reuse, like a Pack n’ Play, a swing, and a Boppy pillow. These are all items I also recommend getting in some form or another! I am extremely thankful I bought all gender neutral stuff for Scarlett, even though we are having another girl. We are able to reuse so many things. So excited to buy these new products that are either new and special to baby #2 or I didn’t think to buy for Scarlett.

    Products numbered above: 
    1. Little Unicorn Security Blanket
    2. Little Unicorn Swaddle Blanket
    3. MatiMati Baby 5-in-1 Cover
    4. Ergo carrier (similar one)
    5. Boba wrap
    6. Pobibaby 5-in-1 Cover
    7. Halo Bassinet cheaper version here

    Other Products Mentioned:
    Wildbird Ring Sling
    Graco Pack n’ Play
    Boppy Pillow
    Graco Simple Sway Baby Swing

    *some products listed above are affiliate links only. All opinions are my own. No sponsored items listed.

    Food

    Winning Summer Recipes

    Our eternal winter has finally ended. The Midwest had a brutal winter of cold temperatures and snow that went on for days. We skipped our spring and went straight into summer of 80 degree weather. This usually happens in our part of the Midwest, very little spring and fall (my favorite season) and just months of either brutal heat or brutal cold. When our weather starts getting warmer my tastebuds instantly go into a constant need for fresh salads and grilled meats and veggies.

    Here are some of my current favorite dishes I made so far this summer. I got a variety of range here from a light summery pasta, salad, and a variety of grilled yummy goodness. If you live somewhere that you don’t have a grill or you just don’t own one, all these can still be made and still be summery!

    Most of these recipes are new to me, and found on Pinterest, but I always wonder if Pinterest recipes are as good as they look and I hope you all wonder that too. So I thought I would do some recipe testing and let you know and so far I’ve been finding some gems. I may change or add something to them, but I will note that.

    I can’t really pick a favorite but I’ll start with them in order of when I made them. The first one is just a simple roasted veggie and kielbasa sausage dish. I love this, because it can be completely customizable to your veggie preferences. I love pretty much all vegetables and Devin does not, so on two of the trays (because I make a lot of this to eat on during the week) I put all the veggies that we both like on the trays with the kielbasa sausage. Then I do an additional tray of extra vegetables that just I like.

    This is what I used:
    1 sweet potato, peeled and cubed
    a good handful of brussel sprouts, trimmed and cut in half
    almost a bag of mix potatoes (baby bakers, red, and purple), mostly cut in half, unless they were bigger
    1-2 zucchini, quartered
    12-16 oz kielbasa sausage, sliced
    bell peppers of choice (I used red and orange), largely diced
    1 head of broccoli florets
    1 purple/red onion, largely chopped

    This, like I said can be 100% customizable. I did originally find this idea from a Pinterest recipe, but I changed and added so much to it I figured I’d just handwrite out what I use in my own version.

    Mix this all together with:
    oil of choice (I used olive oil), till everything is well incorporated
    salt & pepper, to taste
    2-3 cloves garlic, minced
    fresh grated Parmesan cheese, to taste

    Roast the veggies and sausage at about 400-425 on a parchment lined baking sheet. But you can also do large foil packets on the grill. Bake till desired doneness. I like my veggies to have a nice char, so I think mine went for 30-40 minutes. You can eat it like is, or over rice which is what we do!

    (*tip: make sure all you veggies and sausage are cut to match closely in size, it will ensure an equal bake time on everything)

    The next dish I made that was a hit, was a little bit of a debacle. The first round had an all out grease fire in my grill that ruined my dish in 5 minutes and I was oh so looking forward to it. But I tried again a day or two later and went the safe route in the oven. I again found this one on Pinterest, The only thing extra I added was about half a pint of sauteed mushrooms and maybe about a 1/4 cup of chopped sun-dried tomatoes. I also just slit the chicken to make pockets instead of pounding it out and rolling the mixture in. I made this for two chicken breast, so if you are doing it for the four like the recipe calls for you can double the about of mushrooms and sun-dried tomatoes, but honestly I had a ton of filling so I don’t think it is necessary.

    (not the prettiest plating on this guy)

    So this next recipe was a find from my cousin. She told me her meal plan and it sounded so good, so I had her send me the recipe. It was this amazing Fried Goat Cheese and Blackberry Salad. The only thing I did different was instead of raw onions I sauteed them and I also added sauteed mushrooms, mostly because I had some in my fridge that needed to be used up. But that was definitely a nice touch and highly recommend if you don’t like raw onions like me! I also used hazelnuts instead of the nut suggested, but really any nut of choice will do! I learned my lesson from the night before and let the man of the house manned the grill and he grilled the chicken up for me. It turned out great and was one of my most favorite salads I had. I doubled the salad dressing on recommendations from my cousin, but we didn’t use about half of it, so that’s your call. If you like a lot of salad dressing on your salads, definitely double because it is a very yummy dressing!

    The last dish I’ve made that I feel like was the perfect summer dish was this Summer Pasta Primavera. It was the perfect summer dish because it wasn’t too heavy with a thick sauce on it. It was light and refreshing.  I was going to add asparagus, because I had some in my fridge, but it unfortunately went bad and I couldn’t add it. But everything else I stayed pretty close to the recipe on this one.

     

    I feel like if these are well received, I’ll do these once a month. I try to post only original recipes, but I do use Pinterest a lot for reference and I do find some good recipes and like I said I always wonder if they are as good as the picture looks. So I figured, I’d be the guinea pig and post about the good finds on Pinterest. The people who originate these recipes, definitely make their food look much better than me. It’s still a hard learning process of getting the proper lighting and angles in my house. But I am trying my best.

    Motherhood

    Pregnancy Cravings

    My pregnancies have been almost identical, even the cravings are exactly the same. Although, it’s really hard for me to give in to my cravings because of extreme nausea and this pesky aftertaste I have experienced. I still have quite a few. Also, did anyone experience an aftertaste while pregnant? Mine comes on after I eat or drink almost anything. But, it’s the worst with sugary things, garlicky, and bread aka three of my major food groups. Any tips of how to get rid of it? The only thing I have found is brushing my teeth, but it doesn’t help when I am not at home, and it truly is very unbearable.

    But anyways, I figured I would list my cravings for any of those pregnant mama’s to see if we have some similarities.

    Salt & Vinegar or Dill Pickle Potato Chips are one of my biggest cravings. I craved them with both babies. The acidity in the chips doesn’t flair up my aftertaste and the combination of salt and vinegar taste like the heavens above. I’ve recently been pairing it with homemade-ish French Onion dip. I say that because I pour Lipton’s French Onion mix in sour cream and mix it myself versus buying a pre-made one. But I make sure to only really eat that at home so I am near my toothbrush.

    Dill Pickles or banana peppers, I feel are a very common pregnancy craving. But, again, they combat my aftertaste and taste so good to me.

    Ice Tea is something that I have drank much more this pregnancy. I really try my best to limit my intake, because of the caffeine, but it’s the only drink that actually quenches my thirst without leaving a aftertaste. I try my best to drink water, but I have never been a water person. It doesn’t do anything for me to quench thirst, but I am definitely much better about drinking water when I am pregnant.

    McDonald’s  Vanilla Iced Coffee is another drink I really try to limit, but is my little treat. I don’t feel horrible drinking McDonald’s coffee, because do you see the amount of creamer and ice they put in it? It’s pretty watered down and I feel like a medium coffee doesn’t even add up to the amount of caffeine your doctor’s recommend you drink while pregnant.

    Caffeine Free Diet Pepsi or Diet Coke, was an early pregnancy craving. I mostly drank this in my first trimester for both pregnancies. This is a weird one for me. All the foods above I eat while I am not pregnant, but just multiplied. But this one I only drink pregnant. I used to drink Diet Pepsi when I was younger. But as I grew up, I started to not like the taste of dark pops. So this is a weird one for me.

    Ice cream,  all I can say is I eat a lot of ice cream when pregnant.

    Cheesecake. This is horrible, but right towards the end of my pregnancy with Scarlett I legitimately ate a slice of cheesecake Monday-Friday on my lunch break when I worked a normal job. I would go to our local sandwich shop. Order a hot sandwich, dill pickle chips, and a slice of cheesecake. I just had a piece for the first time this pregnancy and I may of started something I shouldn’t of.

    Watermelon is a HUGE craving for me. I will have two summer babies and unfortunately living in the Midwest we can only get really good watermelon from the end of June-August. But when they come into season I can eat a whole one by myself in one sitting. I can do that not pregnant, because watermelon is my favorite fruit. But it’s more of a dier situation of me getting my hands on a watermelon during pregnancy.

    Mustard is a new craving for just my second pregnancy. Again, I like mustard. But I don’t actually put it on much. I am a mayo girl through and through. But for some reason, which I think has to do again with the acidity of it and tasting good with my aftertaste, I can’t get enough of it. I even put mustard on a BLT, which I feel is a little weird, since mayo is usually the only condiment that traditionally goes on it. But it was literally the best BLT in the world.

    I think these foods are about it. I wish I craved things like broccoli or things that are healthy for you. I mean the only thing actually healthy for you is watermelon and that is probably not even the healthiest fruit option, because it’s mostly just water. But in my eyes, since I am sick all the time, it’s better to eat something than not at all. And just because I do crave these things, I still am eating healthy foods, I just tend to enjoy the above items above anything else. But I definitely am going to make a BLT  with mustard for dinner since I talked about it and now that’s all I can think about!

    Motherhood

    Pretty in Pink

    Well, ladies and gents, the McDivitt family is going to be all about pink! We went to our anatomy scan on April 12th and it came up roses when we found out we were adding a little girl to our family.

    If you guys don’t know we are only planning on having two kids. Financially, that is most likely all we will be able to support. My body can barely handle the two pregnancies I am going through and went through, so I can barely even fathom going through a third. And even though I love kids and especially the baby stage, I think I can only give everything I have to two babies.

    But it was no secret I wanted a boy. I wanted a boy HARD. It’s not to say I didn’t want a girl and I am absolutely thrilled to be having a pretty little girl. But I always pictured myself a boy mom. Which apparently Someone up above did not agree with! I wanted a boy for a couple reasons.

    1. Since we were only having two kids, I wanted to be able to experience raising both genders.
    2. I have only a brother, so it’s what I grew up with and I loved having a brother. But I also didn’t know what I was missing, so I am sure that will be the same for Scarlett.
    3. Scarlett is a daddy’s girl. The love she has for Devin is so intense, I sometimes feel like I’m intruding on something. I wanted a mama’s boy. But who’s to say that I can’t have a mama’s girl with our next one. I just have to make sure my husband, who is a girl dad through and through, doesn’t come into contact with our new little girl for at least 3 months until I can cement my bond on her. I’m totally kidding…or am I?
    4. I wanted a little mini Devin. I mean have you seen my adorable husband. Let me tell you he was even cuter as a baby and toddler. I just imagined dressing a little boy in skinny jeans, Neff hats, and v-necks and growing out his hair and just having a total mini Devin. But I mean Scarlett is turning pretty much into him. So now I need a mini me.

    But other than that I am absolutely thrilled to be having a girl!

    1. We don’t have to spend as much money in the beginning with clothes. Poor baby girl will get a lot of hand-me downs. Of course, I won’t be able to resist getting some of her own things. But I am so excited to be able to use a lot of Scarlett’s old outfits, especially because she didn’t wear a lot of them.
    2. They will forever have a best friend…or so I hope! I know in the teen years, girls can be a little catty, but I know they’ll have each other forever.
    3. Devin will get two daddy-daughter dances and get to walk two girls down the aisle. He’ll have to also give two speeches which I am sure he is THRILLED about. I won’t have a mother-son dance. But I’ll hopefully be able to experience my grandchildren’s births, holding on to my baby girls’ hands as they bring beautiful children into the world.
    4. I may of been a daddy’s girl when I was little and I still am, but I am so grateful for my mother and the friendship we have today. If I am spending anytime with anyone outside of my kids and husband I am with her. I am able to confide in her, and talk to her about anything and I hope I can be that for both my girls.
    5. I am so excited to see Devin with two girls. Like I said, it’s sometimes hard not getting the complete infatuation that he receives from Scarlett, but it’s also pretty amazing to be able to witness it. It melts my heart how he loves her and she loves him and if it happens again so be it.

    Our ultrasound went great. She was healthy and on track, which in the end boy or girl is all that matters. One amazing plus is she doesn’t have the same two prong vessel in her umbilical chord that Scarlett had, meaning about seven less ultrasounds! Even though I had hoped for a boy, I knew I was having a girl. Everything from my symptoms to my cravings are almost identical to when I was pregnant with Scarlett. During the ultrasound, our tech was having a hard time trying to find the gender, just like Scarlett. I knew for sure it was a girl at that point, even their ultrasounds were eerily the same with how the babies were acting. When the tech finally got the shot into view, I actually beat the tech to saying the gender, because I remembered what it looked like during Scarlett’s ultrasound. Most of my family was convinced I was having a boy minus a few people. My mom was pretty sure it was a girl. My cousin was pretty sure it was a girl, but that might of been more since she is having a girl, she wanted a little buddy for her baby. And my brother mysteriously had a vision the day we were telling them what we were having that I was having a girl. He may of just been fishing, and trying to get me to slip, but either way that’s the gender he chose to go with.

    Now that I’m slowly starting to feel better I am going to try my best to do a better job documenting my last pregnancy. I apologize in advance, my photography is still a work in progress. But if you saw the space I had to work with and the amount of natural lighting you’d understand. But at least my models are and will be adorable.

    Motherhood

    Scarlett’s New Sibling

    I’ve been sitting on some news for way longer than I thought I would be able to do. But if you didn’t get it from the very obvious title of this post or the picture, we are adding a new family member as we wait for the arrival of our new baby. Little Miss Scarlett Rose is going to be a big sister. We found out we were having a baby exactly a week before Christmas and we had our very first doctor’s appointment and ultrasound today. This pregnancy, just like Scarlett’s has not been easy on me mentally and physically, and has gotten significantly worse in the last couple days. I was feeling great all of about two weeks and then I jinxed myself and the nausea, vomiting, and metallic aftertaste came in waves. Now I have serious food aversions and can hardly stomach things I once loved. Luckily I got medication prescribed to me to help with it so fingers crossed.

    Devin and a handful of our family members have been taking such good care of me and helping me out as much as they can. Devin knows what I went through with Scarlett so he is super empathetic, although when I’m hurling over a toilet he’s usually pretty far away. It’s been Scarlett that has literally wiped off my face, comforted me, and even went to far as to clean my ears out while I was throwing up. She’s literally melted my heart and made throwing up constantly almost a bonding experience with her. My mom aka an angel sent from heaven above has picked up where Devin leaves off; taking me to appointments, bringing me food, and just being there for emotional support. I’ve also had grandparents who have either made or bought me meals, and it’s been seriously the best help ever.

    We told just our immediate family and a few close personal friends up till now. Our immediate family we told on Christmas. The reactions were great all around. It was so fun being able to use Scarlett as our way to tell people with her Big Sister shirt. Which, she hasn’t really gotten the fact that mommy is growing a baby and every time we ask her if “mommy has a baby in her belly”,  she screams “NO!” I think having a sibling will be an adjustment for her especially if that baby comes in between her and her daddy.

    We were trying, but honestly we really didn’t think we would get lucky on the first try like Scarlett, so it was still pretty unexpected when I took the tests.

    At our appointment the baby was measuring at 8 weeks and 5 days with a due date of August 30th. I was really trying to shoot for September. I will be having a cesarean. I would love nothing more than to physically give birth, but unfortunately our hospital is not a VBAC (vaginal birth after cesarean) and the closest one is about an hour away and the thought of driving an hour in labor scares me greatly. But I met my new doctor today and he’s amazing. So if I have to have a cesarean I’m glad its with him! With that being said I can schedule my cesarean as soon as the 18th of August but I really want to hold of as long as possible because I don’t want our babies’s birthdays back to back. But whatever is in the cards is in the cards. We are so excited and can’t wait to see Scarlett become a big sister!

    (because taking photos of toddlers is fun hardly any usable photos and hold a peanut butter sandwich)

    Kick Butt Women

    The Army Wife

    The next pretty lady I am featuring on my “Kick Butt Women” series is Becca. Becca and I met when I was 19 and she was 16. She started dating my cousin, Jon (who she married in June 2014) while I was dating Jon’s friend, Devin aka my husband. We spent tons of time together since she not only was dating my cousin but our boyfriends were in the same group of friends. In the years I have known her I’ve seen her grow from a high schooler, into a wife, and into a mother. I admire her so much, because she is one of the most independent people I have ever met and has been put through many trials and tribulations in her marriage and motherhood.

    Jon and Becca got married in June 2014 and welcomed their first baby girl Ariya or Yaya, as she’s affectionately called by her family members, in October 2015. She’s one of the coolest little toddlers ever. Shortly after Ariya’s arrival, Jon left for Basic training, leaving his newborn and wife to try and better their lives. This was the first time I witnessed her independence and her ability to persevere when times were rough.

    After Basic they moved to a military base where they are currently stationed and they are now currently expecting a baby boy due in March, with the potential of Jon getting deployed.

    Since joining the army, how has your marriage changed?

    We have each changed in our own ways we have had to adjust to a lot of new things and experiences and anything and everything can effect a marriage. We have to depend on each other more, have lots of trust, and adjust to being away from each other for long lengths of time.

    How has your family dynamic changed since joining the army?

    Jon is gone a lot and has long hours so he doesn’t get to see us as much as all of us would like. I also have to do more on my own to take care of the family and am often playing the roll as a single mom.

    Did you enjoy moving to base? What is one positive and one negative thing about it?

    I like the sense of security living on post. I love our neighborhood, and being able to walk to a playground.  The villages of Benning put on a lot of fun events for the families which are usually a fun thing to do on the weekends. Everything is very close and easy to get to compared to what we are used to. Going from a small town to a big city has been the biggest change for us. The farthest we normally have to drive to go to any store is 20 minutes. Living on post there are more rules and things you just have to accept and follow which is definitely different from owning your own home and even most places you rent from. 

    Have you adapted to military life, or do you still struggle from time to time?

    I definitely struggle not seeing my husband or seeing my daughter missing her daddy all the time. But we have made some really good friends that have a lot in common that make things easier to talk about and help you get through things.

    Are you nervous to have your new baby if Jon gets deployed?

    If he does deploy in the time we are expecting our second child there isn’t anything I can do about it but handle things, keep my head up, and keep going.

    Are you planning anything for Ariya to make it easier if or when Jon gets deployed?

    We will try to Skype as much as possible but that’s all I really can do with her being so young she doesn’t understand lengths of time and the reason why he is gone.

    What is one positive and one negative thing about being an army wife? And how have you learned to manage the negative?

    The positive is the friendships you make. They are impossible to describe and they are the best of friends you will ever have. A negative is definitely the being away from each other. To get through the being away from each other you just have to do it.

    How did you feel when Jon first told you he wanted to join the military?

    I didn’t like it at first and wished for something else but it was something he really wanted to do and I support my husband in his goals and dreams so this is what we are doing for right now. The experience has been very eye opening and we both have learned a lot that I appreciate now. 

    How does Ariya behave and react when Jon has to leave for periods of time?

    Ariya  is very attached to her dad, so when he’s gone for even just a week she is a totally different person. She usually is more naughty and acts out. But, also cries and asks where daddy is a lot. When he gets home she usually doesn’t want to leave his side and just wants to be with him 24/7.

    What is a typical day for you on base?

    She said if Jon is working most of the day, since they only have one car, she will usually take him to work, so she can go grocery shopping, which she does on the 1st and the 15th of each month. If he is coming home at a decent time, she will go when he gets home. During the day her and Ariya will go on walks around the neighborhood or to the park. If the weather is bad, they’ll stay inside and watch movies. Ariya takes her nap around one and Becca can get some household stuff done during that time. She makes sure Ariya helps with cleaning her room and playroom. If Jon is gone for longer periods of time she uses that time to go out to eat with friends. She is also a FRG treasurer, so she will have meetings to go to at times and plan events. They also spend a lot of time with other couples.

    What will change when or if Jon gets deployed?

    Everything will be the same but with no breaks and almost no contact with my husband for almost a year

    What scares you most about Jon getting deployed if or when he does?

    Him not coming home.

    Do you have any career aspirations or do you plan on being a stay-at-home mom? If you are planning on staying home is it just because of Jon’s unpredictable schedule, or do you love being a stay-at-home mom?

    I love being a stay at home mom and would do it forever if I could not work but I love working and doing something. Jon won’t be in the army forever and when he gets out I will finish the rest of my schooling and hopefully become a PE teacher one day. But my career is on hold till he gets out with his schedule and having our second kid and only one income it would be extremely difficult to finish school and getting a job would be difficult with the chances of having to pick up and move at any moment.
    Advice you can give any women who are becoming an army wife?

    Be strong, make friends, put yourself out there, deal with everything to the best of your abilities, and don’t lose your love and marriage along the way.
    This girl is a great example of a supportive wife. If I was in her shoes, I don’t think I would of handled this anywhere remotely close to how well she has. She rolls with the punches and loves her husband, no matter what. I think she is a great source for any woman that is embarking on this similar situation!
    Kick Butt Women

    The Literal Kick Butt Woman

    My next lady I am spotlighting is one of my very best friends. Kelly Zook. We met in 6th grade and no matter where we go in life she will always be considered very near and dear to me.

    When I think of Kelly a lot of things come to mind. She’s inspiring, driven, helpful and has a smokin’ hot bod 😛 Even though I HATE physical fitness she was the first person I asked to help me and she was always so willing and would give me very detailed instructions. She also is super motivating. I wish she lived closer so I could have her positivity near me, it may actually help me to stick to working out.  I think this girl can out lift half of the men I know! She’s an animal.

    She’s a Head Trainer at Burn Boot Camp in Long Grove, IL. If you are interested in getting in shape and are local to her, I highly recommend you checking her out! Here’s their website, Facebook page, and InstagramJust in time to work off all that turkey, stuffing, and mashed potatoes!

    What inspired you to start getting into fitness?

    I’ve been an athlete (or a wanna-be) since I was about five years old, so physical activity has always been a part of my life. I didn’t really get into fitness and working out for myself until sophomore year of college and even then, I wasn’t very consistent. I got into the exercise science field because of my athletic past and because I’m a total nerd for anatomy and physiology. I didn’t have a clue what I wanted to do with my degree, but I figured if I was gonna sit in a classroom all day and learn about exercise, I should probably start with myself… And so it began!

    My relationship with the gym really picked up in January of 2015. I had recently lost my mom to cancer and an hour or two of hard work in the gym was my haven, my therapy. Hitting the weights became a routine part of my day just like brushing my teeth.

    What is one thing you are most proud of being apart of the fitness world?

    There are a lot of really great people in the fitness world and also a lot of people who put out a lot of BS (looking at you, social media!). I think having the knowledge to help others wade through the seemingly endless, and often times, contradictory, info is so important. I also think it’s pretty freakin’ cool that I can help people find confidence in themselves. That’s huge.

    What inspired you to make fitness your career?

    I really don’t know. I mentioned in a previous answer that I didn’t know what I wanted to do with my degree. If I’m being very honest, I finished that degree and went on to get another one in exercise still not knowing what I wanted to do when I was done. I graduated with my Master’s Degree in May of 2015, and because of the timing of things and the goings-on in my life, I accepted the first job offer I got as a personal trainer at a fitness center in Geneva, IL. Not my top-pick, but it made sense to me at the time.

    I spent a little over two years there knowing that I was capable of doing more but not knowing what that meant for me. I honestly did not know where my passion fell or how to find it. I would sporadically search job postings online and one day, I found a posting for a Head Trainer at Burn Boot Camp. I had no idea what Burn Boot Camp was, but I thought Head Trainer sounded pretty cool and the job description was insanely appealing. I applied, and 4 months later, I’m head over heels for a job that I’m truly passionate about.

    What’s the best part about your job?

    The women that I get to train with every day. I’ve known most of them for only about one month now, and I have already developed personal relationships with many of them. Knowing that I’ll be seeing my ladies at camp, whether it’s 5:30am or 5:30pm, makes it worth the long hours. Also one of the best feelings in the world is having a client text you after camp to tell you 1. how sore they are and 2. how much they LOVED the workout. Nothing better!

    What do you see yourself doing in the next 5 years in fitness?

    In five years?? I wish I knew what I was doing next week!! Kidding. I don’t see myself straying from Burn Boot Camp. It’s growing like crazy and so many Head Trainers eventually become owners. I think that would be pretty awesome to own a gym!

    What is the biggest tip you can give someone just starting out trying to get fit?

    I have two tips for those just starting out. 1. Just show up. Walking through the doors is always the hardest part! Once you’re there, someone will help you take that next step. On that same note.. 2. Don’t be afraid to ask for help! If you’re not sure where to start, how to use a machine, or perform an exercise properly, ask someone! Contrary to belief, gym-goers are generally willing to help out (as long as you’re not tapping them on the shoulder mid-set!)

    What is the biggest tip you can give someone struggling to stay on track, LIKE ME?

    If you’re struggling to stay on track, ask yourself why. Why is fitness important to you? Is it for aesthetic reasons? Health reasons? Because all your friends are doing it? Find your why and work for it! Also, don’t be afraid to try something new. If you hate running, don’t force yourself to get on the treadmill daily. Find something you actually enjoy and you’ll be much more likely to stick to it! Having a supportive community (both in and out of the gym) is so important as well. Find your why, your what, and your tribe and you’ll be set!

    What is your favorite part about fitness in general (ex: lifting, cardio, dieting, or more internal)?

    I love to lift weights. It’s amazing to me that I can shape my physique however I want with weight training. Also, nothing feels more empowering to me than squatting 200+ pounds! Dieting?? Please no. I love my food. That’s probably some of the reason I work out so much – to EAT!

    I also think exercise is hugely underused for mental health. A good workout is therapeutic for the body and the mind.

    In your opinion, why is it import to keep healthy, minus the obvious reason of being healthy?

    Rather than giving my opinion, here’s my reason… Both of my parents have/did have cancer. While I don’t know if it’s genetic, as I age, monitoring that is going to be huge for me. Along with testing, keeping my health in check is SO important. Regular exercise and keeping my nutrition in check will be the biggest influence I have on my future health.

    How do you best motivate clients?

    I talk louder at them LOL. No really… I quickly learned that yelling (even over a mic) will result in loss of voice. Raising my voice a bit, encouraging, telling them they CAN do it.. Those are all things that get people going a bit more. Upbeat music is huge. I also think that because I work on myself and it shows, my clients are much more willing to listen to what I have to say. I have to practice what I preach!!

    Explain your current job and the philosophy around Burn Boot Camp?

    Burn Boot Camp is a gym that caters primarily to women. Our philosophy is built on five pillars – mindset, whole food nutrition, strength training, burst (HIIT) training, and community. We cater to all levels of fitness, use our bodies as our machines, and we are results-driven. There is so much more I could say that I don’t even know where to start. You’d better just come in and try us out for yourself! 🙂

    If you have any interest in fitness or getting started in fitness I highly suggest you reach out to Kelly! She has turned a lot of negatives in her life into a positive healthy lifestyle. She really is awe inspiring to me! She definitely is one of the women I know who really can kick butt…literally!

     

     

    Life

    Mikasa Beauty

    I have loved makeup for awhile now, but when I started this blog up I wanted to focus more around my daughter and my love for food, mostly because I didn’t want a jammed packed blog and also because I hate taking selfies of any kind. But then a company reached out to me and I had to give them a try.

    Before I go into this brush I do want to say this is NOT sponsored, I bought these products with my own money. I am an affiliate though.  But before I promoted this company I wanted to try them out for myself.

    Maybe a little over a year ago, or maybe even more Artis came out with these hairbrush looking makeup brushes. They were all the rage. But the price was not! They were steep. But I have always wanted to try them out. Well now I did and I didn’t have to pay the steep price that came with the Artis brand.

    Mikasa Beauty reached out to me and I had to try them out! Mikasa Beauty is a new makeup brush company stationed out of Canada, hence why my brushes took a week for delivery. But worth it! They have a huge selections of brushes, sponges, and the Techni brushes (hairbrush looking brushes). They sell them seperately or in kits. They also sell Bodyography makeup products, CND Nails, and Esqido lashes. I haven’t tried those products YET! But I have heard a lot of things about Esqido lashes on YouTube.

    I ordered two of their brushes; Techni O6 and Techni O1. One meant for foundation and another meant for concealer or a liquid highlighter. I did my full face of makeup with these brushes and they did wonderful in all forms of application. I used the Techni O6 for my foundation and blush and loved how it looked. I felt like I used less product and it covered much better. I used the Techni O1 for  my concealer, highlighter, setting my under eye, and contouring. This, I have to say may of been my favorite way to do all of these things. I feel like my under eye concealer looked flawless and covered better. I have this red mark underneath my eye that usually doesn’t get covered with my usual routine and it was barely visible using the Techni brush. It sculpted out my cheekbones wonderfully and really made my face pop with the highlighter.

    The brushes are 100% synthetic. They are super soft and dense and I feel like it didn’t suck up any of my product, which in the long run saves a lot of money.

    I definitely could not recommend these enough. If you want to try them out they are also extremely affordable, but if you use my affiliate code of PAIGEEMC25 you can save yourself 25% off on your purchase. So head to Mikasa Beauty now and check out what they got!