Caring for a sick Ava

This past week Ava has been dealing with and recovering from a cold.  Today, she is back to 100%, except for a lingering clogged nose.

Like any other mom, I hate when my child is sick.  It drains my soul and pushes my anxiety to new heights. But, thank God, this is only the second time that Ava has been sick in her almost 10 months of life!

#tbt to a less sick Ava. Luckily she is recovering like a champ! And so far, she is sleeping well.

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::Last time Ava was sick::

Her symptoms started innocently: a stuffy nose.  Then her eyes were constantly watery and glassy (along with lots of mocos, according to my babysitter, haha).  I thought maybe it was allergies.  The next day she was irritable and clingy.  I thought maybe it was because of her teeth growing in (her four top teeth are all coming in at once…yes!…said no mom ever).

That same day Ava wasn’t eating as much as she normally does. That was a red flag.  Because if there is anything that this girl likes to do, it’s eating (followed by terrorizing our chihuahua and sleeping).

Then I discovered that Ava had a fever.  She looked flushed and felt hot to my lips when I kissed her forehead. Her temperature was almost 101 degrees. I think my heart dropped when I read the thermometer, even though I knew that it was a low grade fever and not something to freak out about.  But I think that as a first time mom, my simple mental equation is fever = very bad & serious.

The worst part about having a sick baby is trying to play the guessing game as to what is wrong.”

I was able to get a same day doctor’s appointment and he assuaged my fears & mental ramblings of “what if this…” and “what if that..”.  He diagnosed Ava with a simple viral infection, aka, a cold.  He directed me to give Ava Tylenol when her temperature reached or was above 101.

After her appointment, I decided to give Ava all my love, energy, and attention, leaving work or anything else for nap times only. My number one goal was to keep her super comfortable and to hopefully reduce her cold symptoms.

Since cold & flu season is approaching, I wanted to share some of the things I did to help Ava recover quickly and as comfortably as possible. Do you have any other home remedies for babies & small children? Include them in the comments below!! 

PicLab

  1. Baby Chest Rub, a.k.a., Vicks Vapor Rub

Why: Has anyone ever seen My Big Fat Greek Wedding? Do you remember how the father believed that Windex was the cure all for everything? That is how I feel about Vicks Vapor Rub.  Go ask my parents–they’ll tell you.

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I swear by the power of Vicks for stuffy noses.  My grandmother used to use it on me every time I was sick.  It’s so great for opening up a congested nose.  Also, it is just soothing to feel someone rubbing your chest and back when you are a sick, little kid.

Hispanic Parents put "VICK's" everywhere when your sick! ft. @_camilaainc #TeamLeJuan

A post shared by LeJuan James (@lejuanjames) on

::click image to play::

2.  Little Remedies Saline Spray

Why:  Ava HATES this stuff. I literally have to wrestle her to get even one drop into her nose (you may laugh now, but you try fighting Ava–she’s really strong!).  After I finally get a few drops into each nose, I suction out (click here for link to the nasal aspirator that I use) whatever guck is in her nose.  This stuff is great for simultaneously moisturizing and drying out her nose. I administer it every morning & night, at least.

I live for those pouty lips. She was so congested and feeling under the weather. It was a miracle that she was able to fall asleep.

I live for those pouty lips. She was so congested and feeling under the weather. It was a miracle that she was able to fall asleep.

3. Tylenol (for babies)

Why:  Not much to write about Tylenol.  It’s a fever reducer.  Enough said.

4. Campbell’s Chicken & Rice Soup

Why:  Sadly, I don’t have a real reason for this one.  Everyone told me to do it and I myself am a believer in the great healing powers of Chicken Soup.  I know it can help with dehydration.  Since Ava wasn’t eating a lot, it was great that this was appetizing to her and that she actually ate it. I fed it to her in small portions once a day (I kept the left overs in the fridge).  My babysitter swears by the below soup, as opposed to the Campbell’s brand, but I didn’t have time to run out and buy some. It’s called Maggi Sopa Sabor a Pollo con Fideos/Chicken Flavored Noodle Soup Mix. 

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5.  Babies R Us Crane Humidifier

Why: I put this on every night to help Ava breathe a little better.  It adds some moisture into the air.  I ran it every night.

Now that I’ve listed a few of my go-to remedies, what are some of yours?

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Blue Apron Review: Promo Code Included!!

We have all been there.  Looking in our fridge, scratching our heads, wondering what to make for dinner.  Or, trying to think of a new, creative dinner (yet healthy) in order to break the monotony of eating our “go-to” meals.  For me, that’s baked chicken or baked salmon with sides of baked sweet potatoes or brown rice with veggies (can you tell I like baked items?).  Combine that with being short on time and the idea of healthy meal planning becomes an arduous task.

In a casual chat with one of my girlfriends, Brittany, I discussed how hard it can be to meal plan AND to go food shopping.  Excitedly, she told me about a food service that she uses called Blue Apron.  Blue Apron is a snazzy food delivery company that ships a box of pre-portioned ingredients to your doorstep, along with detailed recipe cards for three dishes.  She proceeded to show me a stack of glossy recipe cards with familiar, yet exotic dishes.  Calorie counts and educational asides were included on the cards.  I was intrigued.

To be honest, I was wary about the service–were the food portions going to be enough for my husband and me? (Yes, they were perfect.) What if I didn’t like the food but already committed to it? (You can cancel or modify an upcoming week’s meal online if you don’t like what is being offered.) What if my food bill was now even higher because of this “added” expense? (My food bill was actually LESS expensive. Adding the cost of Blue Apron ($59) with my food bill, I STILL spent less than I would normally spend on a weekly basis.)

So I took a baby step and tried a few of their online recipes. I tried the Crispy Catfish with Sicilian Eggplant Caponata.  Obviously, I didn’t have catfish & eggplants laying around the house, so I had to plan a shopping trip.  I also had to pick up tomato paste, rice flour, capers, and red wine vinegar.  I had to forgo the marjoram because I couldn’t find it (honestly, I never heard of that before).  The finished product was great (click here for blog post on that dish), but I was left with a lot of extra ingredients that I will probably never use again.  What a waste of money.

From Instagram, Livingfortwoplus

From Instagram, Livingfortwoplus

I decided to try out the service. What’s the harm? I told my girlfriend I was thinking about trying it out so she gifted me a week free so that I could try it “commitment free” (Disclaimer–>I DID have to enter my credit card info, but I could cancel before they charged me if I didn’t like my first free week of food).

On Saturday, I got a gorgeous and impeccably organized & insulated box of food delivered to my door. I got three selections of raw meat that were sitting on ice packs. Separate from the meats were various vegetables and “knick knacks”–all labeled and perfectly measured for their corresponding recipes. The recipe cards were super stylish: large glossy cards with pictures detailing each step of the cooking process. 

Since I had three meals already taken care of, all I had to do was think about two other meals for the week. I found the inexpensive solution of buying a rotisserie chicken from Sam’s Club for under $5. I then bought some other basic necessities like bread, milk, etc. My food bill was $50–more than $75 less than what I normally spend.

A recent study showed that when customers purchased the ingredients in one Blue Apron delivery at grocery stores (from local grocery stores to Whole foods) in five different cities, the ingredients were 60% more expensivethan a Blue Apron delivery, and fewer than 75% of the ingredients were available at any one store on average” (Blue Apron, About Us)

The meals:

I had this, this, and this. The recipes took me out of my comfort zone, as I never really “seared” anything before, made cod fish, or prepared an Indian dish. Each and every dish was absolutely lovely. The only downside was that since it was my first time making these meals (and I had a busy baby in the background), it took me a long time to get through preparing each dish–washing & chopping the veggies, rereading the recipe cards, and debating whether or not the meat/fish was fully cooked. If I were working full time outside of my home (instead of being a WAHM), I’d have to prepare these meals on the weekend.  Or, maybe over time, I’ll get faster.  Also, the other downside is that there are no left overs.  So I’d recommend opting for a family plan if you are looking for extra food to last more than one day. 

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Special promo for you!

I reached out to Blue Apron to 1) tell them how much I love their service and 2) see if they would be interested in offering my blog readers a promotion code so that you all can try out Blue Apron.  I figured many of you would appreciate a few free meals (without a shopping trip). So here you have it faithful reader, a promo code so that you too can fall in love with Blue Apron –> My first 50 readers who use this link will get two free meals with their first Blue Apron Box (for first time customers only).

Some cool Blue Apron facts from Blue Apron’s About Us

Blue Apron is building a network of family farmers that champion sustainable farming practices.  These direct farmer relationships allow Blue Apron to give customers access to hard-‐‐to-‐‐find seasonal produce (e.g., fairytale eggplants, fiddlehead ferns, watermelon radishes and micro-‐‐basil).”

As of June 2015, over 1.1 million pounds of specialty crops were  planted and harvested by small, family-‐‐run farms for Blue Apron recipes. “
Blue Apron ships over 3 million meals per month to 99% of the U.S.”

I really, really, really hope that you enjoy Blue Apron as much as I did.  I decided to keep my subscription, so I got my second box of food yesterday.  I can’t wait to write & to post Instagram photos about this batch of food (follow my Instagram page here.

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Yoga Today: Namaste

I love staying fit and healthy.  The cool thing about working on your health & your fitness is that you can do a lot of things to achieve the two.  For example, one crucial part of staying fit is to get active.  And there are a ton of things one can do to “get active.” One of my favs is attending a yoga class.

Yoga can mean so many things during just one class.

Easy to modify

It is an activity that can be modified to meet you where you are.  A good yoga instructor will offer alternate poses to decrease or increase the intensity of each one.

Relaxation

It is an activity that can relax you.  And it’s an activity that can be surprisingly intense, depending on the session.

Strength training

At LA Fitness, my class today was very fast paced and focused on my core: just what I needed to get my day started! We did slow head stands, during which I could feel my stomach burning!

I documented my whole morning (and then some) on Snapchat.  If you don’t have it downloaded, I highly recommend it! Friend me at livingfor2plus At first I was skeptical about using Snapchat, but my students showed me that it is actual a great app. Now I love using it to document my workouts, what I eat, and the cute things that Ava does!  Here is a preview of today’s post, which will only be up for another couple of hours (so hurry up and add me as a friend so you can see more!).

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Fueled and focused

Working out. Not my number one favorite activity in the world. I would much rather be a lazy bum on the couch, eating a mix of chocolate and popcorn while sipping a glass of white wine. But I can’t do that. Why? Because working out is a means to an end. It is how I stay healthy and fit. And if that means sacrificing a few hours a week to ensure a healthy inside and outside, then I’m down! 

Being that I’m not all gung-ho about working out, making sure I’m fueled and focused throughout a routine is super important to me. If I don’t get a good snack in before my workout, my workouts end on a very flat note. 

  

FOOD

I like to snack on granola bars before a workout. Something with a long lasting energy punch. I love Nature Valley Crunchy Oats N’ Honey and Nature Valley Trail Mix Fruit & Nut. My husband on the other hand, uses powdered energy boosters to get him revved up. I’ll be honest, I’ve been a little scared to venture into the “powder” land. But my husband keeps telling me they are awesome and they’ll probably boost my drive for the gym. I came across ETBFit products, which include powders & supplements. It seems like the productline is more naturally dervived & cleaner than others, so I’m thinking about trying them…especially since I’m almost out the door with breastfeeding, and I’m almost always worried about what may affect her. 

After my workouts, I often get a smoothie at my gym. I’m usually famished by the end of any workout routine. 

MUSIC

  
The worst thing you can do is forget your headphones at home…

Music is probably my single most important motivator when it comes to working out, which I’m sure many people can relate to. I have several workout playlists but my most frequented ones are “Spanish Workout,” “Gym,” and “Pop.” Here is a small sample of songs on each list: 

Spanish Workout:

“Vivir Mi Vida”, Marc Anthony

“Ven Báilalo” (Reggaeton Remix), Ángel y Khriz

“Mayor Que Yo”, Baby Ranks, Daddy Yankee, etc 

Gym:

“Don’t Like Remix”, Chief Keef, Kanye, etc

“Clique”, Kanye

“Wild for the Night”, A$AP Rocky 

Pop:

“We Found Love”, Rihanna

“Uptown Funk”, Mark Ronson ft. Bruno Mars

“7/11”, Beyoncé 

Whatever my mood is the day of my workout determines my musical choice. For high intensity workouts, I almost always select the Gym playlist. It really hypes me up!! I include warm up and cool down tracks, like Ed Sheeran “Thinking Outloud.” 

  
GOALS

Another super important motivator for me is having a clear image of my goals during my workout. Not just short term goals, but the long term “where do I see myself in xx months” type of goals. The goal I held onto during the spring was how I wanted to look when I visited my hometown for the summer: long and lean. I even had a body crush, though I don’t look anything like her magnificent demigoddess body. But the image of longer, leaner muscles, a tighter waistline, and an overall slimming of the body all kept me super motivated during my workouts. 

  
From Instagram account Mistyonpointe

And finally, take lots of pictures of your progress. It’s nice to look at where you started to where you are now. 

  
What do you do to stay “fueled and focused”?

Motivation Monday: Eat Right!

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#truth

My motivation of the week is to make healthy food choices & to eat right.  The goal is not to diet, but to really focus on eating things that are good for me.  For months, maybe years, I’ve been trying to enjoy a healthy eating lifestyle: nothing extreme, just a balancing game so that at the end of the week, I’ve had enough healthy foods to balance my unhealthy favs (#sugarlover #carblover).  I call this flexible dieting. Here is my meal plan for this week (hyperlinks for specific brands that I use):

Main meals: 

1) Chicken caesar salad with olive oil dressing

I just had this for lunch...yum!

I just had this for lunch…yum!

2) Baked chicken, steamed cauliflower, and baked sweet potato

3) Broiled steak, brown rice, and kale

Breakfast: 

1) Oatmeal with walnuts & coconut milk

Snacks: 

1) Homemade lactation cookies (NEW recipe to come!)

2) Mrs. Thinster’s Cookie Thins in Chocolate Chip

3) Apples & grapes

4) Maybe some gluten free brownies if I have the energy later this week, lol

5) Chobani Greek Vanilla Yogurt

Drinks: 

1) Water

2) Coffee

3) Traditional Medicinal’s Lactation tea

4) Kale & apple fresh juice made at home

Here is how I work a meal plan: I set up 3-4 main meals, snacks, and drinks for the week.  Then I just choose all meals from that list. Following this philosophy (along with moderate exercising), I’ve lost 30 pounds twice in my life: first when I started this program to lose extra weight I packed on due to stress, and then a second time when I loss my baby weight.  I still have a handful of pounds to lose, but I’m not overly concerned. 🙂

From late November 2014 to late May 2015.

From late November 2014 to late May 2015. The exact same outfit. And yes, I was wearing maternity leggings in the picture on the right…

#eatright #snapback

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At Home Workouts: Arms/Legs

Time.  I always feel like there is never enough of it. From the moment I open my eyes to the minute I fall asleep, there is always something “urgent” to do.  And whether or not there is a kid in the picture, I’m sure you can relate.  It is just how the world is nowadays.

So where does “working out” fit in? Honestly, nowhere. But, depending on how much you love your body, it is imperative to find time–any time–to keep your body healthy & fit.  Even if it is just once a week.  That is one day more than you would have worked out before!

I coined this while talking to my dad about working out.

I coined this while talking to my dad about working out.

Here are some times that you can squeeze in a workout:

  • early in the morning–my husband wakes up ridiculously early to go to the gym (I admire him)
  • directly after work–I like this time.  I have a standing calendar appointment on Tuesdays after work with reminders to pack my gym clothes.  It is like a second job.
  • OR ANYTIME at home–I like this one best

I set up a mini at home gym in my daughter’s nursery.  It doesn’t consist of much: a yoga mat & some dumbbells.  You can do a lot with just that. And if you have a 17lb baby on hand, her chunky body can be the perfect weight for lots of workouts.

Not much is need to get a good workout. The most important & crucial part is willpower.

Not much is need to get a good workout. The most important & crucial part is willpower.

I’ve been pretty consistent between working out at home & at the gym.  Whenever I haven’t been able to go to the gym after work (maybe the babysitter has to leave early or I had to work super late), I turn to working out at home.

My workout accessories: Pandora station “Pop and Hip Hop Power Workout”; bottle of water; washcloth for all that sweat I’m going to work up; & Mueller’s Jumpers Knee Strap (my knees pop when I do squats: these straps help to prevent that.  I highly recommend them).

Here is one routine, focused on strengthening/toning legs & arms:

  • I spent about 10-15 minute stretching.  My hamstrings are so tight.  So is my lower back.  I’m sure this is all due to the awkward positions I find myself in because of Ava…rocking her to sleep, feeding her, rolling around on the floor when I play with her…oy vey!
  • 3 squat routines, 3 sets/10 reps each.
    1. Basic squat, no weights
    2. Basic squat, with dumbbells, varying between holding them straight down & straight forward (great arm exercise)
    3. Basic squat, with baby, varying between holding her close to my body & straight forward (another great arm exercise)
From Instagram, @livingfortwoplus

From Instagram, @livingfortwoplus

  • Here is where I added some dance/ballet moves from back in the day (when I danced consistently).  I used my daughter’s dresser as a ballet barre:
    • A set of pliés (aka, ballet’s version of a squat)
    • A set of grande battement kicks on each leg
Grande Battement.  From http://blog.codyapp.com/barre-workout-routine/

Grande battement. From http://blog.codyapp.com/barre-workout-routine/.  This will make your leg burn!

Some ballet humor for you! From Instagram, @livingfortwoplus

Some ballet humor for you! From Instagram, @livingfortwoplus

  • Cool down, with leg and arm stretches
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This pose gives me life! When the front of my leg is sore/tight after a workout, this is great for gently stretching them. From Instagram, @livingfortwoplus

This leg and arm focused workout had me exhausted.  I felt the burn for days after and I felt like my body loved me for the workout! I’ve been getting a lot of comments about my arms!

Try it! As long as you’re healthy enough for it and your doctor say’s it’s ok!

What workouts do you do at home? Comment below. 

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Flex Dieting…continued

Recently I came across a quote on Instagram that I really liked:

There is no diet that will do what healthy eating does. Skip the diet. Just eat healthy.”

Dieting is hard to keep up. But healthy eating–a lifestyle change–is sustainable. I remember times when I wanted to lose weight and I’d do crazy crash dieting and workouts. It would be for stupid things, like fitting into a dress, as opposed to wanting to better my health (a mess).

But now I’m becoming better each day at “eating healthy”. Last week was a great continuation of my flexible dieting.

In my last post on flex dieting, I mentioned that I like to plan double meals by groups of days. This helps add variety to my diet. For the first couple of days, I made baked salmon and chicken, and alternated them for lunch and dinner. (Recipes in links)

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Chicken tenderloins, salad, sweet potato, and cheddar bay biscuits. From my Instagram page.

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Baked salmon for dinner turned into a salmon salad for lunch the next day. Is it obvious that I love plain baked sweet potatoes? My secret weapon for the salmon is Paul Prudhomme Seafood Magic Spice and olive oil.

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Made some yummy Spanish stew. Froze a bunch of it to save for when I start working again. I love the fresh ingredients that go into it.

Later in the week, I made a roasted chicken. I loosely followed my favorite baked chicken recipe. I had chicken and veggies for dinner and chicken salad for lunch. So delish. I also made banana bread.

Mixed in with my diet, I did a lot of walking (the weather was great!) and I went to my first post pregnancy yoga class. Don’t think this was a chilaxing yoga session–this was a high energy, ab focused yoga class. It felt so good to start to strengthen my abs. I couldn’t believe how hard some of the poses were when I had to use my core! Abs: a work in progress (so is my flexibility, as a matter of fact).

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This week, I have roasted chicken and veggies on the menu, followed by chicken breasts and baby kale salad, ending with pasta with ground turkey. If needed, I’ll throw in Spanish rice and/or quinoa. All of these are fast and easy meals…perfect for my first week back at work.

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