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3rd Time’s a Charm

Ever since my ectopic pregnancy in July 2017 we have gone back and forth about trying for our third and final family addition. We had an early loss in February 2018 that set us aback and had us rethink about becoming a party of five. But now is it July 2018 and, here we are, 23 weeks pregnant and expecting the arrival of our third in November!

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Feeding Our Families – Plated Meal Service Review

While meal services like Blue Apron, Hello Fresh and many others have now been a norm in many households for years now, I had never tried one until just recently. I had always been curious about these services, but the price point and frequent reviews from friends about how complicated the recipes were kept me from exploring this idea further. However, when I was offered a code for a free box from Plated, I decided to give it a shot. Note: I did not receive this code from Plated, so this review is not in any way at their request.

The Basics

IMG_6746First, I created an account, and although I was getting a free box, I had to provide a credit card and full billing and shipping information, since the intention is that you will continue with the service. Once that’s set, the site prompts you to choose a plan, which is based on how many meals you want per week (up to 4), and how many servings of each meal (up to 4). My 5 year old gets a pretty set menu for the week, so I chose 2 servings and 3 meals, which was the lowest option I was offered when I signed up. The site does offer 2 nights/2 meals, as their most basic option, but it wasn’t available to me at sign-up.

Second, I had to pick my meals. The site prompts you to set preferences, like gluten free, vegetarian, etc. and then presets a menu for you. Since my husband is a lifelong vegetarian, I selected the vegetarian option. When my menu popped up, I noticed that only 2 of my 3 meals were actually vegetarian, so I went to swap. The site gives you a short list – about 8-10 options – that you can pick from if you want to swap out any of the preset meals.

Lastly, you select your delivery preferences. The box arrives once a week, and you can set the day of the week you want to receive it. All over the site, Plated promotes their flexibility – you can pause boxes if you’re out of town, increase servings if you are having guests, shift delivery days, etc.

Our box arrived midday Sunday, and thankfully, because we live in a condo building, our front desk was able to store it in their refrigerator, but even if that’s not an option, the box is guaranteed to stay cool and the food save until midnight of the delivery day.

The food arrives in a large cardboard box, with a gel-pack ice pack lining on the bottom and sides of the box, so that everything is packaged cold. We didn’t get any meats or fish, but the instructions noted that the proteins are usually packed closest to the ice to keep them as cool as possible. Everything is packaged and labeled by recipe, and large recipe cards are included with full instructions and steps.

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Things to do in July

July is probably my least favorite month of the year so I try to do things in July that motivate me and get me to August. I am not a fan of summer because I hate being hot and I don’t love the long days, so I can often feel myself getting a little down in July. I’ve been doing a really great job the past few years of having a list of things to accomplish in July that keep me busy and make me feel less down.

Buy Boots: Boot season is right around the corner, but most people aren’t thinking about that quite yet. Which means, boots are on sale everywhere! I found an awesome pair that I have been coveting on Amazon for $15.00 last week. These normally retail for $60, so it was a huge find for me. A ton of stores also have their clearance areas stocked with fall and winter clothing and shoes, so that is a great place to look too.

Go Through Seasonal Items: I have a cute little doorstep at my house and I love to keep it decorated with seasonal items. Right now I have two little planters with summer plants, a bright flower puff hanging on the door, sidewalk chalk in a pot and a few other items. One of my favorite things to do in July is to go through my stash and see if there are things I no longer use and then donate them. I also start to look for ideas for upcoming seasons or holidays to either start crafting them, or to start looking for items in stores.

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Feeding My Family Lunch Option: Macaroni Salad with Chicken

During the summertime I like to make something that will keep for a few days and allow us flexibility on meal times. Also, I need to make something with left – overs for my husband to eat because he works late hours then. This is a favorite, and also a great dish for a tight budget.

noodle salad

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Feeding Our Families: After School Snacks

When my kiddos come home from school they are famished, and we still have a few hours until dinner. Instead of them rifling through my pantry grabbing tons of junk food, I plan out some healthy options. These snacks work well because I can customize to my kiddos preferences. And with BeBe now in elementary school, she can make many of these snacks on her own after I show her how to do it.

Fruit Salad – Obviously this is one of the healthiest option and I generally offer this first. I let the kids pick out the fruit they want to buy for that week, so we are constantly switching up the fruit salad. We have a few variations everyone likes:

  • Sliced Apples with honey drizzled over the top
  • Bananas, Strawberries and Blueberry in a bowl
  • Watermelon, cantaloupe and/or honeydew pre-sliced in a large bowl

fruit salad

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Amazon Prime Day Starts at 3 PM Eastern!

Today is like Black Friday in July! Amazon Prime Day starts at 3 PM Eastern. There will be deals available on Amazon via the website and the app, plus via Alexa and even in-store at Whole Foods.

Some of the best sellers last year that are already or likely to be on sale this year as well include:

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Lion Family, Party of 6

Hello Hive! It’s been a while since I have updated you all on our family, but we have had some big changes!

Things have been a little wild in the Lion household for the last few months, for the best possible reason! In February we got a long awaited phone call and brought home two precious siblings to share our home for a while, turning our family of 4 into a family of 6 instantaneously. We were as prepared as we could be, but you can never be fully prepared for bringing a new child (or children) into your life.

I have started to write this post a million times, but writing about someone else’s babies is different. I want to share so much with you about foster care. About how beautiful it is, but also how messy. That room that I posted about last year, it isn’t empty anymore. It is divided in half, and both sides are filled with life. When I reread through that post and remember the times I spent on my knees waiting for and praying for these children, it is almost too much to even put into words.

I hope to be able to figure out a way to share my own story as a foster parent without sharing too much of theirs, because I think that the more the world knows about what it is really like, the less scary it will seem to others who may be able to share their home in the same way, or at least support those around them who enter into this adventure. What I can share now is that our kiddos are 10 and 11, older than the age we had planned on, but we are so thankful for the big age gap. Turns out big kids are pretty awesome, and it has been such a joy getting to know them. Our littles adore them, and they have so much fun playing together. But the gap is big enough that the big kids can also go off on their own and do “big kid stuff” and it doesn’t bother the littles that they are left out.

In a flash, they have been with us for more than 5 months. When they came to us, the social worker said to expect 6-12 months, and at the time that seemed like forever. But guys, I realized today that our time with them is so limited. These little lights in my life, they are only here for a short time. My Facebook feed is full of mommas saying goodbye to their high school graduates as they launch them into the world. And in just a short time, I will be doing the same with these little people that I have come to love so much. I know it isn’t the same. But man, it didn’t take long at all for these kiddos to blend into our family and it feels like they have always been here. Saying goodbye is going to be impossibly hard, but I would not change a thing.

Seeing the beach for the first time after a very long road trip to Florida.

Seeing the beach for the first time after a very long road trip to Florida during Spring Break

In addition to our family growing, our littles are growing at what feels like lightning pace. Little Lion is getting ready to start Kindergarten in the fall, and Baby Lion isn’t a baby at all anymore…she is now 3 and a half! We have been through a long few years with Little Lion, trying to figure out more about the way his brain and body work (more about that in a future post), and I am very thankful for an awesome year of Pre-K that prepared us for school, an IEP team that loves him and wants the best for him, and the team of doctors we have worked with to help us get to the root of what is going on. We still don’t have definite answers, but our lives have become significantly easier with supports in place and we are so grateful. Baby Lion (I feel like she needs a different blog name now haha) is cheery and cuddly and full of life. We are officially out of the baby/toddler stage, and it feels so free! A little bittersweet, but mostly we are just really enjoying entering into the big kid years. We are hiking and traveling again, and I feel like we are finally getting our footing in this whole life as a family thing.

A rare shot of the two of them sitting still together

A rare shot of the two of them sitting still together

As for me and Mr. Lion, we both have had work transitions in addition to our move to the country last year. During the last school year I decided to give it a try being back in the classroom, but being a classroom teacher is just too intense with 4 kids at home and I won’t be returning next year. I love teaching, but spending my days with 29 ten year olds all day left me drained and exhausted by the time I got home from work. Add in all the appointments that come with kids with special needs and foster family visits, and I felt like my brain has been on fire for months. Starting in August I will begin graduate classes to add an additional certification to my teaching license so that I can specialize in just one area, so I am looking forward to that this fall! In the mean time I will be working part time from home for now, unless a flexible full time opportunity presents itself. I used to be a person who planned far into the future, but being a grown up in the world long enough has showed me that plans are best held lightly.

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Our house is full, loud, and crazy, but so full of love and I wouldn’t want it any other way. I am glad to be back as part of this community and would love to share more of our adventures in the months to come :).

 

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