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Wednesday, October 3, 2018

Traveling Pangs

When I told friends and family that I was considering flying solo from Maui to New England with my boys (one's just barely two and the other is only 11 weeks old) they all thought I was CRAZY! Haha!

Well, maybe I am!

But, to me, the tradeoff of getting to spend extended time with family and friends was worth the consideration. Jake would've come with me, but his work makes it difficult for him to leave Maui for that long.

So, crazy or not, I booked my tickets and hauled my two little guys across the Pacific and then the country until we landed in Boston, MA. Jake would follow a month later to spend the last two weeks with us.

Flying solo with 2 kiddos under 2!


Here are a few tips and things I learned about traveling with little ones.

1. To Layover or Not to Layover

When purchasing my tickets I chose to take the flight that had the fewest layovers versus the shortest travel time. For me, the idea of having to navigate fewer airports (Maui, one layover, and the final destination) was easier than dragging them through an additional airport or two just to save time.

2. Mrs. Pack-Man

Next came packing. After much thought and consideration, I chose to wear my newborn in a harness and push my toddler in an umbrella stroller. This made it easier for me to keep the toddler (who I will refer to from here on out at Mr. Wreck-It) under control. I could also use the stroller to help carry stuff. Despite what some may think, the stroller was easy to collapse at security and the airport's gate check option made transporting it easy.

3. Carry-On #1: The Everything Bag

For our carry-on bags, I utilized our large diaper bag backpack the most. Its numerous pockets made it easy to carry and quickly retrieve things like diapers, wipes, diapers, extra sets of clothes for all three of us, diapers, a blanket, diapers, glasses case, diapers, laptop, wallet, and a few more diapers. I even brought headphones for me and Mr. Wreck-It to help ease the noise of air travel (look into Cozyphones for the kiddos. They're wonderful!)

4. Carry-On #2: The Other Everything Bag

For my second carry-on I chose a large beach bag that I could hang from the stroller to transport and would make things easy to get to on the plane. In this bag I put snacks, a cup and lovie for Mr. Wreck-It, no mess painting pads, a blanket, kid-sized neck pillow, child restraint backpack filled with toy cars, books, and finger puppets. This bag was basically less essential stuff that I just wanted easy access to in case Mr. Wreck-It was in meltdown mode and I wanted to keep him from wrecking something.

5. The Secret Empty Seat

When I arrived at our gate I headed to the desk to inquire if there were any open seats for my infant in arms. I've learned that if there are any open seats, the airline will often block off an extra seat in your row just for the baby. And if you have your carseat (which I did not) you can even put them in that. On our first flight, which was a red eye, there were some open seats so the boys and I ended up with our own row! Hallelujah!

More Travel Tips From A (Alleged) Crazy Mother


  1. Go into the trip planning to get no sleep. You are there to entertain and help your children survive the flight. If you plan for no sleep and get 45 minutes you'll feel amazing! ;-)
  2. Don't expect your 2-year-old to sleep on the plane. At all.
  3. Remain calm no matter what happens with your kiddos. Upon boarding the plane Mr. Wreck-It, my 2-year-old, started to freak out and wanted off. I remained calm, explained over and over what we were doing, who we were visiting, and all the fun we would have, and he got over it. Kiddos pick up on our emotions. If we start to get bent out of shape because they're crying and might disturb other travelers, they tend to escalate. So keep your cool. Don't worry about anyone but you and your kiddos. Just do your best.



The Tears. Oh, the Tears!

Once the 2-month-old was soundly asleep, I put him down on a blanket in the seat with a seatbelt around his waist so I could hold Mr. Wreck-It. That helped him fall asleep, which was around 1am Maui time.

Whew!

We originally had a 7 hour layover, but I had seen that another direct flight was headed to Boston 5 hours earlier. So, with fingers crossed, I went to guest services and inquired if there were seats and, if so, could we transfer to that plane? For $50 each they changed us, and I will tell you that $100 was 100% worth it! Seven hours would've been way too long. The two hours we had was perfect. Mr. Wreck-It got to wiggle and walk and run and tumble and fall and jump and get out as much energy as possible.

The second flight started out much more smoothly. Mr. Wreck-It was asleep before takeoff and remained that way for 3 hours of the5-hour flight. Unfortunately, when he woke up he informed me that he was done traveling by having a full-on meltdown. He was done being on a plane, done sitting, done keeping quiet, and there was little I could do to console him.

For about 20 minutes I had a 2 year old and an 11 week old on my lap at the same time crying. What could I do but embrace it and comfort them as best I could? I just tried not to freak out, tried not to worry about the other passengers, and just focus on my boys.

At one point, Mr. Wreck-It needed to go potty. Teddy was awake so I asked one of the flight attendents if they could hold Teddy so I could help my 2 year old in the bathroom. They happily obliged. In fact, two of the flight attendents were jokingly fighting over who got to hold Teddy. I told them where I was sitting and to bring him back whenever they were done. That gave me about 10 minutes with Mr. Wreck-It, just enough time to get him calmed down and comfortable. So never be afraid to reach out to the flight crew to hold your baby if you're in a pinch.

One Last Hurdle

My last challenge was getting my bag from the baggage claim. I had Teddy strapped to me and Mr. Wreck-It in the stroller. There was no way I could also drag a large checked bag behind me. Thankfully a kind gentleman offered to grab it off the belt. He then wheeled it across the room to get us out of the crowd.

And then my parents were there! We had survived! Woo-hoo!

Would I do this again? Honestly, yeah, I think so. It wasn't terrible, and it was all over and done within less than 24 hours total. I gave birth to these two minions with no epidural, so what's a day of travel pangs?

I learned so many other things that could benefit other traveling Mamas, so if you have any questions feel free to comment below and I'll do my best to answer.

Thursday, April 19, 2018

Baby’s Birth Story: From A Dad’s Perspective

DISCLAIMER
Like any fisherman spinning his yarn, Jake has embellished this story with some humor and good ol' fashioned sarcasm. It's all in good fun. He doesn't mean to offend or give the impression that he isn't an involved and active father. He was great during my labor and he's an awesome dad! As sleep-deprived parents, we just need to laugh, like, a lot, so I hope you can enjoy his take on the birth of our second son, Theodore. —Dani

by Jacob Grant

So Dani wakes me up around 3am and tells me I need to start setting up the birthing tub. Nothing she says makes any sense. I’m still thinking about the new AMC show I’ve been binge watching called “The Terror,” based on the historic voyage of two British ships in 1845. The story is filled with mutinies and frozen arctic isolation and cannibalism and a demonic polar bear. It’s riveting stuff.

“What?” I ask, groggy.

“I think you need to get the birthing tub ready,” she says.

“Are you in labor?” It’s the only question I can think to ask.

An avalanche of words falls out of her mouth: “I got up to pee and was having some cramps so I tried distracting myself with some television but the cramping got worse so I started timing it and I think they’re contractions so I called our midwife but I can’t bring in the birthing tub or get it filled up so I need you to get up and come help me.”

I understand very little of what she says, but slowly my brain comes to the startling and awful realization that I’m not going to get any more sleep.

“Are you sure?” I ask in secret desperate hope that maybe this is one of those pregnant lady false alarm thingies.

“Pretty sure.”

I sighed. Pretty sure isn’t sure. As I think about filling up a birthing tub with 150 gallons of hot water, my mind darts to our checking account. If this is false labor, this month’s electric bill is going to be awesome!


Wrestling around with a large birthing tub isn’t the kind of thing anyone should be doing at 3am. I pretend I’m one of those poor stranded seamen on “The Terror,” dragging their lifeboats across the unforgiving tundra. That’s essentially what the birthing tub is, I figure: a lifeboat. Get it? That thought makes me chuckle, even though I can’t get over the fact that it’s 3am and I’m not sleeping.

Back in the kitchen, I see my wife walking around rubbing her belly. She stops to lean against the kitchen table and do some deep breathing stuff. She looks like she’s in pain, but it passes after about 10 seconds so I figure she’s fine. Maybe it's just gas. Maybe this will all go away and I can crawl back into bed and return to dreamland.

The next thing my wife says shatters any and all hope I have of going back to bed: “The midwife is almost here.”

I should probably mention that we’re doing a home birth. This is because we’re evil people who don’t care whether our baby lives. Just kidding, we care, just not enough to go to the hospital and give birth the way normal people do with doctors and medicine and sterile environments and such.

I set the lifeboat in the kitchen and start filling it up with hot water. In my head I see the numbers on the water bill ticking up like the readout on the gas pump. After 20 minutes the tub is barely half full and the hot water heater is empty. I start heating up pots of water on the stove.

I bet those guys on “The Terror” wish they could’ve heated up water on a stove. All they had were campfires and animal skin blankets, which, after thinking about it, sounds really fun right now.

The midwife arrives with more work for me. She’s got about six thousand bags and small suitcases filled with enough medical supplies to help a third world country. As I drag it all into the house, the midwife checks Dani. She’s only four centimeters dilated. I have no idea what that means other than she still has a long way to go. I know this because my wife whimpers and says, “That’s all?”

At this point, I figure, the baby is coming whether we like it or not. We’ve passed the point of no return. Our ships are stuck in the ice and there’s no going back. We’re in no man’s land now. Time to bunker down and brace myself for the long haul.

I decide to make a sandwich. I think about offering to make one for my wife, but when I look at her she’s hunched over the birthing tub doing another deep breathing thing, except she’s kind of crying.

Oh, and we’re low on mayonnaise.

Dani crawls into the birthing tub. Her contractions are coming closer together. I think she’s a little nuts to not want a hospital birth with an epidural, but, as I’ve learned, she’s one tough chick, and when she sets her mind on something there’s little anyone can do to change it.

I kneel behind her outside the birthing tub and rub her shoulders, but I don’t know why. There’s literally nothing I can do to help except pray that everything goes smoothly, which makes me wonder if I really need to be awake for this. Couldn’t I just go back to bed and come out when they need me to lift something heavy?


Around 6am, the sun starts to rise, and then things get really dramatic, like the third act of a Jason Bourne movie. There’s a lot of grunting and pain and moving around while my wife pushes as hard as she can. The water in the birthing tub fills with gooey stuff as the baby pokes his head into the world.

Then, the unthinkable happens: the baby gets stuck. With the way Dani is sitting in the tub the midwife can’t get enough leverage to help the baby out.

“Get out of the tub!” says the midwife. “Get out now!”

“Finally,” I think, “something to do!”

I hook my arms under my wife’s armpits and lift her up like Kevin Costner in The Bodyguard. I’m Liam Neeson and Action Jackson all in the same moment. I set my wife on the floor. Mission accomplished! I think about celebrating with another sandwich, but there’s more work to do. And, besides, there may not be enough mayonnaise. Who can eat a sandwich without mayonnaise? It’s just gross, you know?

Speaking of gross…

“Push!” says the midwife. “Push, push, push!”

Dani gives it her all. She even screams at the end like a warrior princess. My Wonder Woman. The baby slides out, a sticky, disgusting mess of blood and fluids and flailing little limbs. My alien baby. Dani hugs him to her chest and lies back. Her voice is trembling as she mutters, “Hey, Theodore! I’m your mommy.”

The mythical Tuunbaq.
I can barely process what I’m feeling at this moment. I’m still stuck on how much I miss my bed, and how horrific that demon polar bear is on “The Terror.” I guess it’s part of an Eskimo legend. The Tuunbaq, they call it. It sorta looks like a polar bear, but it’s also much bigger, and it kills vengefully. The thing is terrifying.

It’s kind of funny, the show is based on a book, which is based on the 175-year-old mystery of the disappearance of these two British ships. Shortly after the book’s release, and just before the show started to air, some folks actually found the wreckage of the two ships. I guess the real story of this lost expedition will come to light soon. It’s just kind of ironic that as soon as AMC started this show, someone finds the real wreckage. Kind of spoils the fun of fictionalizing the whole thing, doesn’t it?

All kidding aside, when I look down at my alien son, all slimy and gross, tears fill my eyes. What an amazing miracle life is, isn’t it? I’ve known this was coming for quite some time, but nothing can really prepare you for that moment when your whole world totally changes.

Theodore Isaac Grant. Eight pounds, 21 inches, blue eyes, black hair, and as perfect as can be, if not kind of smelly.

Here's an upside down picture of him.

I cut the umbilical cord, happy to have something else to do, and then Dani pushes out the placenta, which looks like the mutilated remains of many horror movie victims I’ve seen over the years. Later, the midwife shows me the placenta, holding it open over my kitchen sink like a big slimy bag.

“The whole baby fit right in here!” she says, fascinated. “And here’s the umbilical cord which attached to the placental wall and fed your baby for nine months.”

Oy. I don’t care so much that I can’t even form the words to explain how much I don’t care. I just hope she’ll disinfect the sink when she’s done doing whatever she’s doing because I’m going to make breakfast there soon.

I take the baby while the midwife stitches Dani up. I guess she tore during the delivery, but I don’t even want to talk about that.

He’s here, guys. My second son. My little buddy. I’m thrilled and pallid and half wishing this is all just some kind of nightmare that I can reflect back on as I burrow into my big beautiful comfortable bed. But no such luck. This is all real. He’s here to stay. It’s been five days since he was born and I’ve had maybe eight minutes of sleep.

All right, I gotta go hit up Google for contact info on some local urologists. Time to look into this vasectomy thing.

Monday, April 16, 2018

Teddy's Birth Story

"Due dates" are kind of an evil thing. While you've known all along it's just an estimate and that you could go earlier or up to a couple weeks later, I think we get it in our head that the "due date" marks the end.

As much as I had been hoping my April 1st baby would come true, I knew all along it was possible he'd come later—just like his brother—but I hadn't mentally prepared for that.

At my 40 week check-up, my midwife, Merrily, said she thought it would be a minimum of three or four more days before baby arrived. She even went ahead and scheduled a 41 week appointment, which I didn't take as a good sign. :-/

Needless to say, I was discouraged.

On Thursday, my husband suggested we get out of the house, head over to Lahaina, and enjoy an evening out, sort of a last hurrah before baby comes. He was craving pizza from Lahaina Pizza Company on Maui's famous Front Street, which was ironic because that was the place we ate at two days before Toby was born.

I joked that if Lahaina Pizza Company helped put me into labor last time, maybe it would work again!

During our stroll along Front Street, a friendly lady offered to take a picture of us. We don't often get photos of the three of us because usually Jake is behind the camera, but I thought it was appropriate since it could be the last photo of our family of three.

We swung by Teddy's Bigger Burgers after supper to grab our favorite peanut butter chocolate shake—"Teddy's" Bigger Burgers. Coincidence? I think not! lol


Maybe the pizza worked

About 10pm I went to bed like normal, feeling fine, and figuring it was still going to be another couple days before baby arrived, maybe more.

At 12:30 I woke up to pee, which was typical, but when I went to lay back down I felt some cramping. It was enough that I knew I wasn't going to fall back to sleep without a distraction, so I went out into the living room to watch some Netflix. Jake was just heading to bed so we sort of swapped places.

It never crossed my mind that those cramps were the beginnings of contractions because I really didn't know what contractions on their own felt like. With Toby I had such intense back pain for two days prior to actually going into labor that it was hard for me to distinguish what a contraction actually was.

By 1am I realized the cramping was coming in waves and so I started timing them. They were about 7 minutes apart. As they got more intense I started walking around, which sped them up to 4 minutes apart. Then by 2am they were down to 3 minutes apart.

I hemmed and hawed about when to call my midwife. I knew she had just delivered a baby and I hated to wake her in the middle of the night, especially if this was going to be another long labor like I had with Toby. By 4:12 though I knew I needed to call her.

Merrily asked me to stop walking around to see if the contractions slowed and to call her back in 20 minutes. After sitting back down, contractions slowed to 6 minutes apart. Merrily decided to come over, knowing that second babies often come much quicker. Plus, it was going to take her an over an hour to get here, so better safe than sorry.

Ok, well, maybe the pizza worked.


Whoa, slow down!

I decided it was time to wake Jake. He needed to bring the birthing tub into the house, fill it up, and get everything ready. I figured he could go back to sleep while I tried to relax in the tub. Little did we know just how quickly things were about to happen.

Being on my feet and helping Jake get things ready had sped my contractions back up to under 3 minutes apart. As soon as the water was ready, I got in, which was about 3:30am.

My midwife arrived around 4:15. When she checked me I was only about 4cm dilated, which was super discouraging—Jake says I even whimpered a little when I heard the news—because, to me, that meant I still had a long way to go. That's how far along I was when she arrived for Toby's birth and it was another 7-8 hours after that before he was born. Ugh!

However, Merrily seemed to think the baby was going to come quicker. A lot quicker, actually.

There was another midwife, Jan, scheduled to assist Merrily. She had helped with Toby's birth and I was looking forward to having her there, but she was all the way in Hana, which is about 2 hours away. I was encouraged by the notion that Merrily didn't think it was worth it for Jan to try and come because she most likely couldn't get here before baby is born. I had all confidence that Merrily could deliver the baby on her own. She has been delivering babies for 45 years this September! And even though it was discouraging knowing that Jan wasn't coming, it was great to hear that things were progressing faster than I thought.

Almost too fast!

With Toby, the process was so long and so slow, I had time to get used to the pain levels, to mentally prepare myself for the contractions. This time I remember thinking, "This better be transition. I feel like these contractions are coming on top of each other and if this isn't transition I'm not going to make it through this one." In reality, it was no more intense than it was with Toby, but it had all happened so fast that I didn't think I could possibly be in transition yet, and so I was bracing myself for it to get much worse.

During this time I couldn't speak, so I wasn't able to ask what stage I was in. I had barely enough time between contractions to catch my breath.

Which, apparently, I wasn't doing a very good job of. My face started tingling followed shortly by my hands. Merrily said I was hyperventilating. She tried to coach me on how to take deeper breaths, but the tingling didn't go away. She put me on oxygen, which helped almost immediately.

Next thing I knew, Merrily told me I was about 8cm dilated and that if I felt the urge to push I could start doing that. At the time, baby was still up in a -4 and my bag of waters was intact.

So, around 5:45am, I started pushing.



Laughing during labor

The biggest difference between my labors with Teddy and Toby, besides the length (Toby was 28 hours of labor and 4 hours of pushing) was that I felt exactly where Teddy was during the birth. With Toby, the back labor was so crazy intense I had no idea where he was in the birth canal, but with Teddy I felt the entire descent, which was painful, but it also helped me know how close he was to being out.

Another surprising difference is that I never made any sounds during Toby's birth. I think I was determined not to be like the over-dramatic ladies on television and in the movies who scream through their delivery. That's not realistic, I thought. So I stayed quiet. As a result, I put a lot of pressure on my face. I broke numerous blood vessels in and around my eyes. I looked like a vampire for two weeks. I wanted to avoid that this time around, so my goal during this delivery was to not put pressure on my eyes. I even told Jake, "Remind me during labor not to put pressure on my eyes," which he did. This time around, I wasn't so focused on being quiet. I grunted and groaned a little bit more, and, I admit, by the end, I screamed. Sorry, TV ladies. It worked though: no broken blood vessels!

I never imagined laughing during labor, but at 6:06 Merrily checked me again and found that my water was still intact. She told me she could break it while I was still in the tub and then move me to the bed or the couch for the delivery if I wanted, but that I could stay in the tub a bit longer "if it was enjoyable."

I misunderstood what she meant by "enjoyable" and literally burst out laughing. "What could possibly be enjoyable about this?" I asked.

Truthfully, I found the warm water helpful, so I decided to stay in the tub.

I also decided to have her break my water because, hey, the sooner this could be over the better!

Once that water broke, man, that was it! Six minutes later Teddy was born!

A slight complication

Of course, like his brother (who came out sunny side up with a hand on his face and his umbilical cord wrapped around his neck) it couldn't be that simple.

Teddy was born in the water, but only up to his chin. He got stuck, we think because he had one hand near his chin. Merrily couldn't get the leverage she needed to get him out while I was still in the tub, so the next thing she said was, "You need to get out of the tub NOW! Get out of the tub! Out of the tub!"

There was no mistaking the urgency in her voice, and yet I wasn't scared.

Jake, minutes before we were told I needed to get out of the tub, had a vision about this happening. He told me about it later. He said he saw exactly how he needed to lift me out of the tub and set me on the floor. He said if he hadn't had that vision he might not have reacted as quickly as he did.

That last little bit is an out of body experience for me. My memory of it is from a view across the room. I see Jake helping to lift me out of the tub, and me getting onto my hands and knees. I hear Merrily telling me to, "Push, push, push, push, push! Keep pushing!" I had no breath left in me, not an ounce of strength to push for one more second. That's when I screamed for that very last push, giving it all I possibly had.

And then, at 6:12am, I heard that tiny baby squeaking and gargling.  Merrily passed him up to me through my legs where I clutched him to my chest and said in the shakiest voice ever, "Hi, Teddy! I'm your mommy."

He was perfect! Healthy, strong, and he stayed right on me for the next two hours, just the way I had envisioned it. He latched on within 45 minutes and it was wonderful.

During all of this, Toby was asleep in his bedroom. He woke up around 6:45 when he heard Merrily loading her car. Jake got him and brought him out to meet his brother. Every day since, Toby's been all about, "Baby, baby, baby!"



Teddy was 8lbs, 21 inches long, and had blue eyes and a head full of dark hair just like his big brother.

Teddy is short for Theodore, which means "God's Gift." His middle name is Isaac, which means "laughter." To us, he is our little Teddy Bear, God's gift of laughter. <3

Thursday, March 22, 2018

A Healthier Kid Approved Banana Muffin

Banana Muffin RecipeI'm always looking for healthier ways to make some of our family favorites!

I'm also pretty frugal, so when I noticed a bunch of bananas had turned black I went on the search for a healthier banana muffin recipe. What I found didn't dissapoint!!

All three of us LOVE these muffins, maybe a little too much, so I had to share with all of you!


Banana Muffins Sweetened With Maple Syrup

Original recipe from Cookie and Kate

Prep Time: 10 Minutes
Cook Time: 25 Minutes
Total Time: 35 Minutes

Servings: 12 Muffins (That is what the original author said but I found it made more)

Serving size: 1 muffin

Ingredients: 
    • cup melted coconut oil or extra-virgin olive oil (I used extra-virgin olive oil)
    • ½ cup maple syrup or honey (I used maple syrup)
    • 2 eggs, preferably at room temperature
    • 1 cup packed mashed ripe bananas (about 3 bananas)
    • ¼ cup milk of choice or water (I used water)
    • 1 teaspoon baking soda
    • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
    • ½ teaspoon salt
    • ½ teaspoon cinnamon, plus more for sprinkling on top
    • 1 ¾ cups white whole wheat flour or regular whole wheat flour
    • cup old-fashioned oats, plus more for sprinkling on top if you'd like
    • 1 teaspoon turbinado (raw) sugar or other granulated sugar, for sprinkling on top (I used raw coconut sugar)
Directions:
    1.  Preheat the oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit (165 degrees Celsius). If necessary, grease all 12 cups of your muffin tin with butter or non-stick cooking spray (I chose to use paper and silicone baking cups instead).
    2. In a large bowl, beat the oil and maple syrup together with a whisk. Add the eggs and beat well. Mix in the mashed bananas and milk/water, followed by the baking soda, vanilla extract, salt and cinnamon.
    3. Add the flour and oats to the bowl and mix with a large spoon, just until combined. If you’d like to add any additional mix-ins, like nuts, chocolate or dried fruit, fold them in now. I added chocolate chips!
    4. Divide the batter evenly between the muffin cups, filling each cup about two-thirds full. Sprinkle the tops of the muffins with a small amount of oats (about 1 tablespoon in total), followed by a light sprinkling of sugar (about 1 teaspoon in total). Bake muffins for 22 to 25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into a muffin comes out clean.
    5. Place the muffin tin on a cooling rack to cool. You might need to run a butter knife along the outer edge of the muffins to loosen them from the pan if you didn't use the paper liners or silicone cups like I did. These muffins will keep at room temperature for up to 2 days, or in the refrigerator for up to 4 days. They keep well in the freezer in a freezer-safe bag for up to 3 months (just defrost individual muffins as needed).
This recipe is easily doubled, I found it made around 30 muffins this way with the added chocolate chips.

I hope you enjoy and please let us know if you tried it and if you'll be making them again :-)

Filled with HOPE,
Dani the Fat Gurl Inside

Monday, March 5, 2018

Green Eggs In Honor of Dr. Suess

The perfect snack for Dr. Suess, St. Patricks Day or Easter.On the first Sunday of every month our church celebrates families with what they call "Ohana Sunday." Ohana, in Hawaiian, means family. And at our church, Ohana Sunday means games, fellowship, and a huge potluck. For the past two years our March Ohana Sunday has been themed Dr. Suess. It's by far my favorite Sunday when it comes to making fun food to share.

Last year I made blue jello cups with Swedish fish in them to go with One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish. This year I made cupcakes with blue frosting topped with those same Swedish fish, as it was a quicker way to accomplish the same theme.

But then I also made avocado deviled eggs to go with Green Eggs and Ham. They were DELICIOUS and healthy, so I'm sharing the recipe! I originally found it on Pinterest because, let's face it, where else do you find recipes?!?! The original recipe was from California Avocados, but shared on this website: This Mama Cooks.

I made a few tweaks based on the ingredients I had, the amount I wanted to make, and personal preference which will be reflected in the recipe below.


Avocado Deviled Eggs

Prep Time: 20 Minutes
Cook Time: 15 Minutes
Total Time: 35 Minutes

Servings: 24 deviled eggs
  • Serving size: 1 deviled egg
  • 12 hard-cooked eggs, peeled and cut lengthwise
  • 2 fully ripened avocado, peeled, pitted and diced
  • 2 tablespoon plain yogurt
  • 2 teaspoons mustard
  • 2 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper

Directions
  1. In a small bowl, place egg yolks; add the avocado and mash until smooth.
  2. Stir in yogurt, mustard, vinegar, salt and pepper, and mix thoroughly.
  3. Spoon into egg white shells or place in a ziplock bag and snip the corner to pipe into eggs, dividing equally.
  4. Arrange on a serving plate. Cover lightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate for up to 3 hours. (Don't serve long after 3 hours as the avocado will start to darken.
I hope you enjoy this recipe. It's perfect for a green food-themed St. Patrick's Day or Easter, and it's healthier too ;-)

Filled with HOPE,
Dani the Fat Gurl Inside

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

A Fun Way To Date Your Spouse!

Creative Date Night IdeasNow that Valentine's Day has come and gone, and I've given Jake his gift, I can share with all of you what I made him.

First off, let me start by saying one of the things we are working on is having more consistent "date nights" :-) It can be tricky at times if we don't plan ahead because we don't have family here who can easily watch our son. We have to find a babysitter or friends to look after Toby if Jake and I want to go out alone. Too often we look back and realize it's been weeks, if not months, since we went out just the two of us.

We started trying to plan two dates a month in January. Being intentional has helped, but, for Valentine's Day, I thought I would take it one step further.

Do you ever get in a date rut, where you got to the same restaurants or always catch a movie? I feel like we are totally guilty of that! Haha! I mean, nothing is wrong with that, but the reality is you don't really talk or connect during a movie, and repeat visits to the same restaurant don't foster new shared experiences and fresh conversation—plus there's just so many great restaurants we still need to try!

Insert my Valentine's gift. It was a simple idea that I found thanks to Pinterest and I tweaked it to work for us—date night ideas that we could pick out at the beginning of the month to change things up.

All you need is:

  • Markers
  • A jar
  • Popsicle sticks
  • Labels or paper & tape


I chose to create 4 categories:

  1. At home date nights that are free.
  2. At home date nights that have a small cost.
  3. Date nights out that are free.
  4. Date nights out that have a cost.


This will work with our budget, babysitting availability, and keep us changing things up!

Some of the ideas I came up with include:


  • Board game night
  • Sunset picnic
  • At home theme night (like Italian and make Italian food together, listen to Italian music and maybe learn a few words in Italian. It could also be a movie theme, decade them, etc.)
  • Try a new food truck
  • Walk on the beach


To create my list I scoured the internet for ideas. I also added some things that Jake and I often talk about doing but for some reason never have. I also threw in some of our favorite things to do that are always fun.

Then I color coded the four lists and wrote them out on the popsicle sticks marking the top part of the stick with the right color. At the beginning of the month, we pick two popsicle sticks based on our budget and childcare availability.

The main reason I did an equal amount of at home date nights was that I was keeping in mind that we are expecting our second baby in April and getting out of the house might be tricky for a while. This way we won't sacrifice our time together during that crazy, sleep deprived season!

If you try this out, I'd love for you to share what some of your date night ideas are! I'm always on the lookout for a new ones :-)


Filled with HOPE,
Dani the Fat Gurl Inside

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

My Miracle Morning Routine

How to start your day off on the right foot, before the kiddos awake!At the end of 2017 I realized I needed to commit to a new morning routine. Allowing myself to wake
up naturally and then try to fit in my morning routine that included time in the Word, prayer, and exercise before Toby got up WASN'T happening!

It's not a big deal to exercise after he gets up. In fact, I kind of like knowing that he sees me do it because it's ingraining in him a healthy standard. It's the other stuff that wasn't happening. I just wasn't finding the time to dig into my Bible and pray while an 18-month-old demanded my attention.

A year ago I read the book The Miracle Morning, in it Hal Elrod shares a list of best practices to begin each day:

S - silence
A - Affirmations
V - Visualization
E - Exercise
R - Reading
S - Scribing

Thousands of people have transformed their lives, their success, their mindset, their health, and their outlook by following this 60 minute morning routine. I figured, if it could work for so many other people, why not me? So I adapted the routine to fit the important activities I wanted to observe every morning:

S - Silence as I turned to Prayer
A - Affirmations
V - Visualization
B - Bible reading and Devotions
R - Reading
S - Scribing what I'm thankful for.

I'll break this down and share a little more of what I do in each section and how much time I devote to it.

Prayer
The first 5 minutes of my routine I quiet my heart and pray over my routine, my day, and whatever comes to mind. I pray that God would speak to me specifically as I dive into His Word, and that I would feel connected with Him throughout the day.

Affirmations
The next 5 minutes I read aloud a list of affirmations that I printed out that speak to where I am at. Affirmations about being a mom, about not procrastinating, about attracting new clients and coaches, and about my coaching business. I used to think saying positive statements (that were or were not currently true) aloud was SILLY! But so many successful people do it, and so I thought I would give it a shot. What I've found is that the things you focus on are the things your mind guides you toward. It's not magic. It's not a quick fix. It's a conscious choice to believe you are capable of certain things and then you start automatically acting on that belief.

Visualization
Another one that I thought was hogwash—but I've heard testimonies from way too many friends, mentors, and celebrities that it works, so, I figured, let's give it a shot!—is to visualize. I visualize how I want my day to go, what I want to accomplish, and how I want to feel at the end of the day. Then I visualize reaching my goals for that month, how that will feel, what I will do when it happens. I continue this for my quarterly goals, yearly goals, life goals, and any other goals that fit in the 5 minutes I do this.

Bible Reading and Devotions
I don't think I've read through the Bible in a year since I was a bible school student over 10 years ago, but I want to change that! So I found a reading plan and I read 3-to-4 chapters a day. As of this writing, I have not yet missed a day. I follow that up with a devotional, currently, I'm reading 100 Days To Brave, by Annie F Downs. If there is any time left I either read the study notes in my Bible or I spend more time in prayer.

Reading
Another 20 minutes is spent reading a book. My goal is to read 36 books this year, and since I just finished number 6 I think I'm going to make it! These books are based on areas I want to grow in such as business, leadership, parenting, marriage etc. Currently I'm reading Love and Respect In The Family, by Dr. Emerson Eggerichs. I've already read Present Over Perfect, Boundaries With Kids and The Miracle Morning. The other books I listen to on Audible during my omorning walk with Toby. So far I've listened to 5 Second Rule, 10X Rule, and Get Over Your Damn Self (warning, this one does have some swearing in it, but I found the content to be good enough that I can look past it. And I use headphones so Toby doesn't hear!)

Scribing
The last 5 minutes of my hour I spend writing down all the things I'm thankful for. I typically start with things I'm thankful for from the day before, answers to prayer, etc. Then I move on to thanking God for the things I am TRUSTING He will bring to pass, things not yet answered, but that I have faith He will! I've been doing this part since August and it's SO much fun to look back and see how many things on my "not yet come to pass but I'll choose to be grateful anyway" list have now become solid "thank yous!"

So, in a nutshell, that's how I start each day! Typically, Monday through Saturday, I begin at 5:30. Sunday, since it's a rest day from my workout, I allow myself to wake up naturally and fit in as much of the list as I can, starting with the most important of my bible reading, prayer, and journaling. I stay on track throughout my hour by having alarms set on my phone with a reminder of what begins at that time. Which means, if for some reason I want to sleep in I have to turn off 9 alarms! Haha!

I would love to hear about your morning routines. If you already do any of the above or would like to begin adding them to your day, drop me a line! You can comment below or send me an email through the Contact button on the top right!

And for the record, I linked all the books for easy access on Amazon for you! I don't get ANYTHING for you ordering, I'm not an affiliate, just another mom trying to make life a bit easier for you ;-)


Filled with HOPE,

Dani the Fat Gurl Inside

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Chicken, Cauliflower Rice, and Bean Recipe


Since this past August, I've been more consistent with my meal planning. My downfall always seems to be laziness. Then I get hungry and if I don't have the energy or desire to prepare something healthy I just grab some quick and convenient processed foods.

I won't say that I've been perfect by any means, but I've learned a lot, and I definitely stay on track better when I plan ahead for success.

Typically, on Sunday evening, I spend a couple hours putting our meals together for the week. Yes, it's a lot of time up front, but doing the prep ahead of time makes the rest of the week as simple as grab it, heat it, and eat it!

I was looking for some new recipes and came across this Chicken, Cauliflower Rice and Bean dish. Fortunately, it didn't need a whole lot of changes to make it Fixate approved. It was a winner for both Jake and I and SO easy to make! It will definitely be happening again! Below you'll find my changes to make this work for our eating plan and food preferences :-)

Chicken, Cauliflower Rice, Bean and Corn 

Ingredients
  • 3 cups riced cauliflower (for quick and easy get pre-made)
  • 1 tbsp olive oil, extra virgin (divided use)
  • 1 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 cup green bell peppers, chopped
  • 3 cups chicken breasts, cubed
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt, divided
  • Pinch ground black pepper
  • 1 cup tomato sauce
  • 8 oz can black beans, drained & rinsed
  • 8 oz can corn, drained

Directions
  1. Preheat a large and deep non-stick skillet on medium-high heat and add olive oil. Add cauliflower "rice" and cook for 3 - 4 minutes or until a bit golden, stirring frequently and watching closely not to burn. In the last minute of cooking add 1/2 tsp salt and a pinch of ground black pepper. Transfer to a bowl and set aside.

  2. Return skillet on medium heat and swirl olive oil to coat. (If necessary scrape off small bits of cauliflower "rice"). Add garlic and green bell peppers; cook for 7 minutes or so, stirring occasionally. Increase heat to medium-high, add chicken and cook for 5 more minutes, stirring occasionally.

  3. Add remaining salt, tomato sauce, black beans, and corn; stir and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer for 10 more minutes. Remove from heat, stir in cauliflower rice. Makes 4 servings and can be eaten right away or stored in the refrigerator covered for up to 5 days.
Notes: Can add a 1/4 cup of cheese on top or a 1/4 of a ripe avocado - this will add 1 blue container.

Approximate Fix Containers:

2 Green
1 Red
1 Yellow
1 Tsp.

Filled with HOPE,

Dani the Fat Gurl Inside

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Trading Tired For Joy

Letting go of the busyness to rest in Him.Do you ever get a sense that you are doing all the "right" things but not getting the results you
expect?

That was my first two weeks of 2018.

I entered the year with big goals, goals that encompassed many aspects of my life. Not all of them were new things, many of them I was just recommitting to or placing on the top of my To Do list.

A week and a half into the year I was feeling EXHAUSTED! Like, could hardly make it to my 9pm bedtime, needing naps, feeling like something was "off" or just not right.

Here I was doing all the things I thought I should be doing—like taking time to be in God's Word, praying, exercising, connecting with my clients, growing my business—but, still, I was drained!

I quickly realized this wasn't going to work, that I couldn't maintain this level for long, and that was a discouraging thought. I felt like that meant I had to give up on my goals and dreams.

One evening I decided to shut down my computer, even though that To Do list was far from complete. I took a candlelit bath and spent some time quieting my heart and mind as I listened to Elevation Worship Radio on Pandora.

I wouldn't say any of the songs that played were a direct message to me, but overall they were a reminder to not lose sight of eternity, to not forget my mission, my calling.

One of the things I've always loved about being a business owner is that I can use the platform of health and fitness as a platform for anything. Somewhere in the busyness of life, however, I found myself not really using it as a platform at all.

My vision was not just to encourage women to better their health and fitness, but to encourage them to grow in their walk with the Lord, strengthen their marriages, and raise their children to love Jesus. My aim is to be their cheerleader on that journey, and THAT brings me JOY and fills my cup.

I don't feel God is calling me to change any of the goals and dreams I have for the coming year, only to make sure I'm utilizing my calling to the fullest extent. He wants me to rest in Him, to share more about Him and what He is teaching me, to encourage others to grow in Him. Those are things I've wanted all along. I've just gotten a little sidetracked.

Are you exhausted? Are you in a season of busyness, trying to do and be everything you think you need to do and be? I encourage you to take time today to just sit in His presence, to open your heart and mind to what He has for you and find rest in Him.

Filled with HOPE,
Dani the Fat Gurl Inside

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

5 Ways To Have A Healthier Pregnancy

When I got pregnant with my first little guy, I thought I had it in the bag when it came to "healthy pregnancy." I already had good habits of exercising regularly, drank a superfood shake which acted as my prenatal vitamin, and was semi-good about clean eating.

BUT 47 pounds later, lots of swelling, an 8lb 11oz baby boy that took me four hours to push out (without medication mind you), and I wasn't so sure I had this clean eating thing in the bag.

This second pregnancy I look and feel much better. My midwife is always commenting about how great I'm looking, that baby is smaller (she feels my body would do better delivering a slightly smaller babe), and is comfortable with me going longer between my appointments, so long as things continue to go well.

So, what did I do different this time? Here are 5 things that came to mind!


  1. I was in better shape BEFORE I got pregnant the second time. I was probably in the best shape of my life and the healthiest version of me I've ever been. If you are already pregnant, this one isn't going to help you, but keep it in mind if you plan to have more kiddos.

  2. I learned the art of meal planning and prepping my food ahead of time. We all know how intense pregnancy cravings can be. When you're craving something unhealthy, it's hard to resists in the moment, but when you prep your meals and snacks ahead of time, food that is delicious and nutritious, satisfying cravings can be easy and quick AND healthy.

  3. Exercise! I exercised throughout my whole pregnancy with Toby, BUT what I didn't do was follow a specific program/plan. I kind of did the whole, "Today I feel like a dance cardio workout, and ummm... 10 minutes is plenty!" This time I found out I was pregnant on week 5 of an intense 6-week program where I followed the meal plan and workouts to a T. That helped launch me into a successful healthy pregnancy. Since then I've completed a 12-week, 25 minutes a day cardio focused program, and just recently started a 12-week strength training program. I'm also walking about 30 minutes a day pushing Toby in the jogger.

  4. Yoga. I was never a fan of yoga in the past, but last July I forced myself to only do yoga for 3 weeks to see what I could gain from it. Throughout this pregnancy, I've done some prenatal yoga workouts and also a lower back pain routine whenever my lower back hurts, and—take it from me—it works!

  5. Hydration. With my first pregnancy I was pretty good at this, but I only drank water (nothing wrong with that, but there are no electrolytes to help replenish my body after my workouts). This time I've also been drinking an all natural hydration drink during my workouts that not only tastes yummy but is good for me and the baby.


All of these things I believe have helped me maintain a slower, lower, healthier weight gain, on top of keeping swelling to a minimum. Overall, I feel loads better!

Now if I could just convince my body to sleep through the night ;-)

Hope this was helpful! If you have had more than one pregnancy and found the later one to be healthier, I'd love for you to share what you think was different.

If you'd like to know more about the workout routines I've been doing, where I access my yoga, or more about that amazing hydration drink, feel free to drop your email below or contact me above <3

Filled with HOPE,

Dani the Fat Gurl Inside

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Well Hello There 2018!

Whenever I look back on the outgoing year, it's often easy to find myself focussing on the failures, the missed goals, the things I didn't do, the things I did that I shouldn't have, but I refuse to go there this year!

Instead, I want to share a few highlights, as obviously I did a TERRIBLE job at keeping up with this blog ;-)
Toby at 10 Months

It was a joy and privilege to watch Toby grow and learn from 6-18 months. It's incredible to remember what he looked like and was capable of a year ago compared to now. He learned to sit, crawl, walk, run, say words (too many to keep track of at this point) and he is an unending source of energy and joy, filled with giggles and optimism. Being his mama has been one of the hardest and greatest opportunities in my life!

All -Inclusive Paid Trip To Punta Cana

Earning an all-inclusive paid trip to the Dominican Republic in April was SO FUN! I left behind daddy and Toby for one week to relax in the sun, hang out with my teammates and friends poolside, try a new fitness program live with the trainer, swim with dolphins, and spend a day at the spa. It wore me out, but it FILLED my heart!

Little Blue Truck First Birthday


June brought our little man's FIRST birthday! We celebrated with a Little Blue Truck theme because that was the first book he took to. Many of our Hawai'i ohana came and celebrated with us as we enjoyed breakfast food (Toby's favorite meal at the time was breakfast), cake, and games.

Date Your Spouse


Jake and I celebrated 5 years of marriage on June 30th! Time has flown by. I can't believe we've already been together that long, but at the same time it's hard to remember life before "us." We didn't manage to actually celebrate until August with a fancy dinner at one of our favorite restaurants with a gorgeous ocean view.

Postpartum Body Inspiration


In August I went all in with a new fitness program and eating plan—the same program I had tried out in the Dominican Republic. I was getting amazing results and sticking to the nutrition 100% UNTIL I found out I was 7 weeks pregnant with our second little one! I was so proud of myself for following through with the workouts until the end though and setting myself up for a healthy and fit pregnancy.

Gender Reveal Ideas


In September, Toby and I flew to New England to spend the month with family and friends. Jake joined us two weeks later. The trip was filled with hiking, apple picking, cousin time, family dinners, apple cider making, meals with friends, new babies and lots of catching up. It was so fun to see Toby interact with his grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins and our friends. While we were there we found out baby #2 is another BOY!

Family Of Three Soon To Be Four


We had our first Friendsgiving here on Maui—actually, we had two! It was different than what we were used to, but we are thankful to have had a Thanksgiving filled with delicious food and great company.

Toddler Christmas Cookie and Tree Photo


In December we made a bucket list of Christmas activities we wanted to do around Maui and one-by-one we ticked them off the list—a holiday train ride, tree lighting ceremony, driving and walking around looking at Christmas lights, the "snowfall" at the mall, and our annual Christmas Cookie Baking Christmas Movie Watching Marathon where we packaged up all the goodies and delivered them to our friends.

And that's about it in a nutshell.

One thing I've found myself struggling with as we head into the new year is a sense of direction. Typically, by this time, I have a "word" for the year and a verse to go with it. I've thought of several words such as brave, growth, courage, etc., but nothing has really jumped out at me. Instead of rushing and forcing this theme to happen I'm choosing to continue to be open to what God might want me to focus on. I already know this year is going to include growing my business with the goal of one day buying a home here, working at deepening my prayer life, learning what life with two little boys will bring, serving our church, and lots more I'm sure!

What was the highlight reel of your 2017? Do you have a theme, word, or verse for 2018?

Filled with HOPE,
Dani the Fat Gurl Inside