another anniversary in the books.

Nick and I just celebrated our 6th year wedding anniversary! We have a picture of one of our wedding shots in our living room. The restful look in our eyes, hair, bodies, and overall look has shown me how much we have aged and matured, hopefully for the better for over 6 years now. 

We have a tradition where every other year we take turns planning our celebration. We do not exchange gifts but usually write letters together to each other and then read them to one another (oops, forgot to do this this year). It used to be a rule that we had to spend at least one night away from home but pregnancy, kids, and finances have kept us from upholding this rule one or twice. The beauty of marriage is that you get to learn communication and expectation over the years. Nick and I were totally content this year with keeping things low key but still meaningful. Our actual anniversary is November 26th, which is always a few days after Thanksgiving, 9 days after Nick's birthday and the day before Max's birthday. This year we spent our actual day with our kids riding ATV's and then went to our good friends Friendsgiving where actually some of Nick's groomsmen and our MC of the night were at. It was nice to enjoy a night away from the kids (thank you in-laws for babysitting) and also nice to spend time with friends we do not see often.

We still wanted to do something alone and intentional so we spent the day in Orange County this past Saturday. My mom watched our kids and we headed to the Anaheim Packing Disctrict thanks to the recommendation of my sister. If you know Nick and I then you know that one of our favorite hobbies to do together is talk, eat, and drink good food with good company.  We enjoyed getting the car valeted and then walked into the Disneyland version of a food court (seriously, if you love food and live in SoCal you need to go here.) Honestly, it was overwhelming to have to only choose a few places to eat at and Nick and I were totally ready to indulge for the day. We settled on French Crepes, an Italian piadina, boba tea topped with cotton candy (you heard that right), mint gelato, and fresh berry popsicles.

We enjoyed every bite and the rare occasion where we didn't have one of our kids asking for another bite of our meal. Our kids are foodies like us and would have totally loved this place. After eating we did the normal thing to do...napped in rocking chairs outside. See what I mean? It was all about the simple things. We ended the day by sipping on some awesome coffee from Portola Coffee Roasters and than did what every family expecting their third child does, checked out minivans at Carmax. The beautiful thing about being married to Nick is that we always seem to have fun together. Having kids has taught us to appreciate every quiet moment that we get alone and also has given us a deeper appreciation for each other.

These past 6 years have been anything but boring. I married someone who supports me in every aspect of life and is truly my best friend. My hope is that next year we can go somewhere fun for our anniversary (keeping my fingers crossed that this baby will take a bottle of pumped milk). Anyways, anniversary can be extravagant and they can be simple but the important thing is that they are celebrated because marriage is truly a sanctifying gift.  

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 Coffee on Nitro  

Coffee on Nitro  

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 Let's pretend I don't look like a cow here

Let's pretend I don't look like a cow here

stretchy pants required: thanksgiving day

Being pregnant is the perfect excuse to already have your stretchy pants (think nacho libre) on. If you are not expecting than I still think it is a good occasion to bust out a pair of pants with an elastic waist, this is the best food of the year as we all know.

Nick and I  got married almost 6 years ago on Black Friday which I originally thought was a great idea seeing as it was our favorite season. Sadly, I had my dress tightened the day before Thanksgiving which forced me to want to hold back on mashed potatoes and stuffing on Thanksgiving Day, I have since learned my lesson and now I either have babies on Thanksgiving (Max was born on turkey day two years ago) or I am pregnant (like this year). Next year I look forward to stuffing my face with plenty of room to fill up on seconds and thirds.

I thought I would share our Thanksgiving menu with all of you. We tend to do the same items every year but that is only because we all crave the same stuff. Every family has their own traditional food but I think that my mom's chestnut stuffing is THE BEST thanksgiving menu item I have ever tried. 

Thanksgiving Menu:

Turkey

Chestnut Stuffing

Mashed Potatoes

Sauteed Green Beans w/ slivered almonds

Shaved brussel sprouts

Corn

Dinner rolls w/ honey butter

 

Dessert:

Homemade Ice Cream

Apple Crisp

You can read about our 10 hour non-stop feasts last year HERE. This year we are keeping it super low key with just my mom, two sisters, husband, and my two boys. We are headed to visit Nick's family on Thanksgiving so we are celebrating with my family the day before.  My favorite part about thanksgiving is that my whole little family all contributes to the meal. We are really good at taking turns with the dishes, prep, and clean-up so it makes the work load really light, minus for my mom who enjoys cooking 24/7. 

I would love to hear what you are eating on Thanksgiving and if you have any family traditions you do with your kids.

 What we will look like after eating our thanksgiving food  

What we will look like after eating our thanksgiving food  

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 So November is Nick's birthday, Max's birthday, our wedding anniversary, and Thanksgiving. 

So November is Nick's birthday, Max's birthday, our wedding anniversary, and Thanksgiving. 

eat your veggies.

Dice, Chop. Sautee. Grill. Raw. Dip. Steam. Boil. Bake. There are so many ways to prepare vegetables for your family and yet many kids, like mine, will put up a fight to eat all (or any) of their vegetables. Give a child a piece of chocolate or something sugary and they will have no problem eating more than their fill. 

As parents it's our job to ensure that our kids are eating nutritious meals and are being exposed to a variety of foods. I remember when Calvin was first exploring foods he would eat anything I put inside of scrambled eggs. It didn't matter what color, texture, or temperature the food was, he would simply eat it. Now that he's a toddler who thinks he knows better than his parents, eating vegetables is more of a challenge. It's almost Mission Impossible. 

Here's how we try to get Calvin to eat his veggies:

1. I love it when Calvin helps me prepare dinner or lunch. (Although this is not always possible to pull off.) Often he'll help me put our groceries in the cart at the grocery store or watch me cook dinner so he can see from start to finish what he will be eating.

2. He has to try TWO bites of the vegetable. The reason why I choose two is because it takes more than one bite to realize you actually like something. The first bite is usually an unfamiliar and disgusting look. We always tell him that he does not have to like it, but he always has to try it. More often then not he actually ends up liking it. Parents for the win!

3. If he is not pleased with the vegetable, we ask him what he doesn't like about it. The color, texture, how it looks etc. This helps me decide if it is taste or some superficial reason. 

4. I try to prepare all our vegetables the same way, taste-wise. All of our veggies have Olive Oil, salt, pepper, and/or garlic powder. The boys love lots of other flavors on their other foods, but keeping their veggies consistent ensures they are not shocked or overwhelmed by the seasoning.

5. Consistency. If Calvin does not like a certain vegetable I do not throw it to the back burner but will make it again soon. Sometimes familiarity helps the case to make sure he eats more vegetables.

6. We like to remind them that vegetables are so good for our bodies. Almost every time after Calvin eats his veggies he asks us to measure him on the wall on our make shift growth chart (pencil markings on the wall). He also will tell us he will try his vegetables so he can grow as tall as a friend at church or my mom, or his daddy. The truth is vegetables do help kids grow so if it helps him eat more of them, so be it.

7. We also keep our veggies separate on their plates rather than sneaking them into their meals. This may sound contradictory to what you have read (it was for me), but Calvin likes to see what he is eating. He trusts us when we tell him something so by not hiding the fact he is eating a veggie and simply having it out for him to see keeps that trust alive. When he asks us if he will like it I am always honest with him. (For example, "Yes, you do like this salad, it has olives in it which are your favorite and it tastes vinegary, which you do like.")

Now don't get me wrong here: there are plenty of days when Calvin doesn't get a vegetable and that is due to my laziness. Nick and I will always eat a veggie (or two or three), but there are days where my patience is running low and I'd simply rather sit and eat in peace with the family rather than explain why vegetables are so important. Those days where I don't give him a veggie I make sure he is loaded up on berries and other nutritious foods. 

Also, you may notice I only mentioned Calvin here. Max is the world's best eater. He literally will not say no to food, ever. The only thing Max does not like is milk, which is totally fine since he gets plenty of calcium elsewhere. But Max would easily down a plate of green beans or peas before eating anything else on his plate. 

Calvin's favorite veggies:

  • KALE CHIPS,
  • roasted broccoli
  • roasted asparagus

Max's favorite veggies:

  • PEAS
  • green beans
  • zucchini
  • carrots
  • and any other vegetable (Minus broccoli. He isn't in love with the tops of them but will eat the stems...weird, I know.)

Gina's favorite vegetable:

  • STUFFED ARTICHOKES

And to close...

I also wanted to give a shout out to my mom on here. My sisters and I have always LOVED eating vegetables. As kids we would pile our veggies on our plates and I can't remember a time when we didn't love to eat them. She gives me the motivation I need to make my kids well-rounded eaters. Props to you mom, and thank you for always introducing us to so many delicious flavors and foods.

What are your tips to getting your kids to eat their vegetables? How do you prepare them? Did your child love vegetables as a baby but is pickier as a toddler? What is your favorite veggie?

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