Monthly Archives: February 2014

Post Baby Fitness – Part 3

Today is February 27th, 2014. Which means, little Miss Monroe Eve is officially ONE MONTH OLD!! She’s already getting so big – growing up before my very eyes – it’s going by too fast! Man, I love her…

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Anyways, onto the Fitness! Today makes 1 month since I gave birth to Monroe. From the 2.5 week postpartum mark, I’ve been slowly testing my feet in the exercise world (with the prior approval of my midwife since I had an uncomplicated delivery).  I started with a couple T25 workouts alongside my husband but quickly determined that those were a bit too hardcore for my post baby “intro” workout. I therefore transitioned into the Brazil Butt Lift workout with trainer Leandro Carvalho.  Now, this guy knows his butt exercises, lol.  He trains supermodels like Alessandra Ambrosio, so I TRUST his moves!

I’ve been on this workout program now for about 1.5 weeks and so far am loving it! My core feels tighter, my thighs feel less “jiggly”, and I feel my tush is firming up. (jeans are fitting more comfortably!) Now, I fully know it’s only been 1.5 weeks, but I am definitely starting to feel a change!  Watch my video below for more of my Post Baby Fitness story firsthand 🙂

Now, as far as how my workout time management is coming – I’ve determined that late night workout sessions work best for me.  So far, I’ve done one early morning workout (when I woke up at 3:55am to nurse Monroe and couldn’t fall back asleep…) but I was so paranoid that one of the kids would wake up while I was in the garage working out – even though I had the baby monitor with me – that I found myself constantly looking at the clock and the baby video monitor.  I couldn’t “enjoy” my workout :o/  Therefore, I usually resort to late night (9-10pm) workouts while my husband is also home. Once the kids are all in bed, they usually stay put so I can get my workout and shower in without worrying. It’s what works for me so far 🙂

2.5 more weeks of the Brazil Butt Lift workout left to go – can’t wait to see/feel my results!

Cartwheeling…

Well, not THAT kinda cartwheel, although it does make me wonder if I can still do a cartwheel these days…  But I’m talking about the Target Cartwheel app!  I’ve briefly heard about the Cartwheel app before, from a website that highlights coupon deals, but I never really looked into it much.  Well, this morning, I saw a Facebook post from that same savings website, and it mentioned that all Target Up&Up brand products were 10% off when using the Carwheel app. SO, I decided, this was just the interesting push I needed to download it.

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Yes, it’s free to download.  You just need a Target account to log in, and you can begin immediately searching for deals! It’s similar to the Target Coupons site except the coupons from the Target site require you to print them out. Using the Carwheel app, you simply pick deals via the app, and have them scan the barcode on your phone at the register.  (Kinda reminded me of scanning my phone via the Starbucks app at Starbucks to use my Gold card when buying drinks)  

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This app is so easy to use that after running some errands with my family today – and having 2 out of the 3 kids fall asleep in the car (Marv stayed with them in the car) – I was able to make an impromptu trip to Target and add some deals directly while in the store (using Target’s nifty wifi too…).  I originally ran in for a pair of workout capri’s (I already own an all black pair that I LOVE) since they were on sale from $17.99 to $12 this week.  Of course it’s nearly impossible to leave Target with just ONE thing…..I ended up picking up a few other odds and ends along the way too.  Before checking out (since the lines were SOOOO long…on a Sunday, I should’ve known…) I quickly scanned the deals on the Cartwheel app and was pleasantly surprised to find a deal for almost everything in my cart!

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Here was my “haul” :
– Blueberry bagels ($1.37)
– Market Pantry brand cream cheese ($2 on sale and 5% off w/ Cartwheel = $1.90)
– Up&Up brand lysol spray ($2.84 on sale and 10% off w/ Cartwheel = $2.55)
– Mirrored edge picture frame (on clearance for $4.78 and 15% off w/ Cartwheel = $4.06)
-Mossimo brand stretchy capri’s ($12 on sale and 15% off w/ Cartwheel = $10.20)
– flossers for the kids ($2.99 regular price)

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My 2 particular favorites were the capris (the only item I actually set out to specifically get…) and the mirrored picture frame.  The capris, as I mentioned earlier, I also own in black. It has a fold over waistband, is stretchy and is SO super comfortable! I use these as lounge around the house pants, AND workout capris.  Since my body is still kind of in an in-between stage after having Monroe, the stretch waistband is perfect! I wore the black pair a TON in my later stages of pregnancy with Monroe and recommend these to anyone who’s pregnant! So comfortable and at only $12, the price is hard to beat….except of course you have the Cartwheel app… Had I known these were an additional 15% off with the app, I very well may have just had to get another pair. 😉  My other favorite item was this mirrored picture frame. I had my eye on it about 2 weeks back when it was marked down at 30% off.  I just couldn’t spend the money on it though. Well, today, when browsing the household goods clearance section, I found this hiding – and marked down to 70% off!!  With the Cartwheel app, add on another 15% off and this became (to me) a steal at just $4.06. It’s so unique and classy looking. Now to just find the right picture for it…

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Anyways, at the register after scanning all your items, all you have to do to use your Cartwheel app (after adding all your discounts onto your app beforehand of course) is to show the cashier the barcode on your phone – they scan it, and voila, discounts applied! Today, I saved $2.94. May not seem like a ton, but I was ecstatic! I LOVE saving money and getting deals. Yep, you could say I “won” today at Target 😉  SO, moral of this post = Cartwheel app is amazing, free and so easy to use…if you didn’t know, now you know!

 

Who needs a gym membership…

…when you can build your own gym at home!  One of my goals for 2014 is to get in the best shape of my LIFE! So, once Marv got back from deployment, he set out to make my goal an accomplishable reality via setting up our very own home gym. Being pregnant at the time, expecting our 3rd, I knew that it would be pretty difficult for me to find the time (and child care) to venture out every day to a gym – not to mention the monthly or yearly gym membership fee.

Like many other things in this household – first stop: Craigslist! After a couple weeks of searching, Marv was able to find 2 huge wall mirror that someone was selling.  ($75 for the big one, and an extra $20 for a slightly smaller one that can be seen in the pic in back of our water heater). The main problem though was transportation! (from Hawaii Kai to Makakilo….so about a 1-1.5 hr drive away).  Too big to fit in our van, and not wanting to risk cracking it enroute, we decided to rent a big UHaul van. Half a day later, with lots of driving and moving those HEAVY mirrors to and fro, they made it safely into our garage!  Marv (being very mission driven to try to get as much accomplished before baby came) got right to it, watching YouTube videos to figure out how to anchor these mirrors safely onto the garage wall.  The next day, with proper mounting equipment in hand and our two kids watching from the windows of his car (they got to play inside while we worked in the garage) Marv and I got the big mirror up!

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Here I am (veeeeery pregnant) holding the mirror against the wall as the glue stuff on the back dried, and as Marv went around attaching mounting hardware to it.  By the way, this was 2 days past my due date….I gave birth the very next morning!

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We had originally wanted to mount both mirrors, but after spacing things out, we decided against it.  SO, what to do with it but list it back on Craigslist!  We bought this smaller mirror for $20 and quickly sold it for $50 🙂  Here’s the mirror safely mounted on the wall.  (After all this work, we found out about a week later that our next door neighbor installs custom mirrors for a living….go figure!)

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Next came re-painting the floor with a non-slip coating. Now “this” step took a lot of prep.  We needed to entirely clear out the garage – shelving, washer, dryer, sink, EVERYTHING for 2 days while it was painted and dried. So much work, but great finished product!  I think Milo agreed…

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Next came the Samsung TV screen and Pull Up Bar. (both from Amazon)

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Followed by all the fixins – Samsung DVD player and wall mount shelves (from Amazon), workout mat holders, extra power strip to match our yellow/grey garage, and jumprope/resistance band/weight lifting belt holder hook (Home Depot). Can’t forget the Bose sound link and speakers too…

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And, voila! Our garage gym was formed! All together, we spent roughly $75-100 on coating the floor with a non-slip surface, $250-ish on the Samsung TV screen, an extra $50-ish for mounting hardware and connecting cables, $30 for DVD shelf, $35 for Samsung DVD player, $25 for misc hooks/holders and power strip, $95 for the 2 mirrors (sold one and made $50, so $45 out of pocket for our large wall mirror), and $100 for the UHaul truck rental.  We already had the Bose sound link and speakers, so total out of pocket after accounting for the money we made back from selling the smaller mirror, we spent roughly $600.  If we had more time, we would’ve searched Craigslist for a used TV screen – possibly saving close to $100-150, BUT, we wanted to get our home gym finished before Marv went back to work, so we bit the bullet and spent the money to buy new.

I’ve been using our “home gym” now for a week straight and LOVE it!
– It’s convenient for me to get a workout in once all 3 kids are in bed
– I don’t have to worry about paying for or finding child care since I’m still at home with the kids while I workout
– I can use the big mirror mounted on the wall to work on my form
– I don’t have to be self-conscious working out in a traditional “gym” since I can do it from the comfort of my own home!

All in all, we are happy with how everything turned out and are LOVING our new gym!

 

 

 

 

 

Beachbody Butt

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One of the very first Beachbody workouts I purchased [while pregnant] was Leandro Carvalho’s Brazil Butt Lift.  Why you may ask? Because, being pregnant with my third child, I could only imagine that I would soon need a little “lift” afterwards.  SO, I guess you could say I was being proactive.  🙂  Also, I wanted to ease my way into an exercise program after having Monroe (nothing too high impact for me just yet please!)  But toning….toning would definitely be nice….

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The Brazil Butt Lift program includes the following:
– 3 DVD set of workouts
– “Triangle Training” cards for “on the go” moves you can do
– 6 Day Supermodel Slimdown Plan (includes a daily workout and specific meal plan)
– Booty Makeover Guide  – walks you through getting started with this workout and includes a weekly exercise plan for your specific booty type (flat, pear, too big, or classic)
– Bonus 20 min Secret Weapon Workout (20 min precision toning routine)
– Fat-Burning Foods recipe book
– measuring tape
– yellow latex resistance band
– body measurement tracker

I decided to start my Brazil Butt Lift workouts at around 2.5 weeks postpartum.  I was given the ok from my midwife (before being discharged from the hospital) to start a workout program from 2 weeks postpartum as long as it didn’t involve lifting heavy weights (she was serious…apparently it’s a big thing with some moms in the military? And being as how I delivered at a military hospital…)  Rest assured, I promised – NO HEAVY LIFTING for this girl right here!

So, I began with the initial highly recommended Booty Basics workout – which really isn’t so much of a workout as it is a step-by-step video of how to do each move.  I can not stress enough how important this video has proved for me!  It helped lay the foundation for each move so that when it came up in a subsequent video, I wasn’t completely lost…I could jump right in and not look too uncoordinated.  I followed this with the “Bum Bum” workout and OH MY GOSH…is that a workout!  My little girl who was in the garage with me as I did my workout even jumped in with me 🙂

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Now, those moves may not “look” like a whole lot in a photo, but rest assured, these work some serious booty and quad muscles.  I followed this initial workout over the next few days with Bum Bum again a couple more times, High & Tight (which has a TON of squatting involved, ouch!), and the Tummy Tuck workout which focuses on your abs and is basically an entire workout on a yoga mat doing planks, leg lifts, crunches, and other muscle engaging moves. Here’s some seemingly easy yet oh-so-hard moves from my Bum Bum workout:  deep squats on your toes – heels up, and holding a squat while grabbing your calves…..I didn’t quite make that one…

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I’m just a week in to this 4 week program but already I feel more flexible, I definitely feel the burn, especially after the Bum Bum workout, and I constantly look forward to which workout will be next (since they’re rotated and in different orders.  I still have 2 more workouts that didn’t yet come up in the week 1 rotation: Cardio Axe and Sculpt.

My overall Brazil Beach Butt review?  This may seem like an easy, laid back workout, but it is a muscle engager!  I would say it’s the perfect exercise for me to start with at this stage in my postpartum workout journey since it (so far) focuses on building your core and targeting specific muscle groups instead of cardio, jumping around,etc. Now, I’ll be honest, I’m not able to do the “full” version of all of these workouts just yet, but I’m able to follow the modifier when need be and do the simplified movements just fine. (and you better believe you’ll still feel a burn with those modified moves!)  Out of the three rotated workouts that I’ve done so far (in this first week of working out), in my opinion, Bum Bum is the most “intense” one (so far). You’ll constantly feel the burn and in my case, YOU WILL SWEAT!  I aspire to build up my core and tone and tighten my booty and quads – and KNOW that this program will take me there if I stick with it!

The two negatives that I will say about this program so far is that 1) I wish the demonstrators wore more clothes – but I guess the point is to have you aspire to have their bodies….so they of course want to show of their abs/legs/etc? and 2) I  can never stop looking at this one particular demonstrator who I’m convinced is wearing a wig.  Other than those two things though, this program is GREAT so far! I think baby Monroe approves too 😉

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Interested in more info on the Brazil Butt Lift workout program? Go HERE for more info!

One man’s trash…

You know that saying “one man’s  trash is another man’s treasure”? Well….I LOVE finding treasures!  This past weekend, we participated in the MWR Richardson Field Super Garage Sale.  It’s held quarterly on a huge field right across from Aloha Stadium (next to Pearl Harbor). You have to be military to have a booth there, (and it costs about $20 if I remember correctly…all of which goes to supporting the MWR) but anyone can come to shop.

Usually, there’s close to 100 booths (guestimating) but due to a rainy week and overcast morning, not a whole lot of people showed up to sell – perhaps closer to 75? Regardless, rain or shine, LOTS of people came to buy!  In the hectic-ness of trying to set our garage sale booth up and take care of Monroe, I missed taking a picture of the 8am opening mad rush of shoppers, craaaaazyness! but here’s a pic to get the general feel of the sale set-up (the field was set up with about 3-4 long rows with booths on both sides).

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Our booth was filled with random things we found around the house and LOTS of clothes! Man, you never realize exactly how much clothes you have until you start going through it all…  It seemed like every weekend in the month leading up to the Garage Sale, I would take 15-20 mins and sort through my dresser and closet – pulling more and more pieces to sell. It’s hard to part with some items, but I figured if I hadn’t worn it in the past year or two (probably closer to two, since I was pregnant this past year…lol) it was doing no good sitting in the closet and would serve a better purpose bringing in a couple bucks!  With that mindset, purging the closet became SO much easier!  We ended up with a 1/2 filled mini van of odds and ends – LOTS of clothes, toys, kids clothes, shoes, backpacks, books, etc.

Here’s our “booth” 2 hours into the 4 hour sale:

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We’d already been mostly cleared out so the pics don’t do it justice…but you get the idea 🙂  Monroe was a champ too…she was so content the entire time:

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When everything was said and done, just from selling our knick knacks and things we weren’t using around the house, we ended up making over $300 profit! WOW. Just goes to show – one man’s trash…

But aside from selling, I loved getting to walk around and browse at all the other booths too (while Marv held down the fort back at our booth).  I wasn’t really in the “buying” mood but I did happen to find this gem at the Girl Scout’s booth – they were fundraising for a Troop trip to Alaska.

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How much? $1! Yes, that’s right, ONE DOLLAR!  Kids LOVE their new pop up bus play house thing and have been using it daily since. While getting rid of our “trash”….I was able to pick up this “treasure.” Ah, I just LOVE finding deals! 😉

 

 

Taco night on a budget!

Now that Marv’s back from his deployment and it’s not just “me” cooking for the kids – it’s now our “family” eating together again – I’ve decide to get back on track and  implement a monthly meal calendar which will also greatly help with our grocery shopping and food budget!  We’re strong believers in Dave Ramsey and try to budget monthly for everything.  Lately, I’ve fallen off the grocery budget bandwagon so, this is my food budgeting rebirth I guess you could say!

To begin with, I started by purchasing a nice, practical dry erase board from Target ($15).  Then, I looked through our fridge and freezer to see what types of meals I could throw together with ingredients already on hand. (Don’t you just hate it when you forget something’s in the fridge and it ends up going bad? Talk about $$$ going down the drain!) I was able to come up with a weeks worth of meals on hand (give or take) before needing to go to the grocery store again.  (I keep this dry erase meal calendar in my kitchen right next to my fridge for easy meal planning).

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On tonight’s menu – tacos!  A few weeks back, I purchased a taco kit from the commissary – complete with 6 crunchy taco shells, 6 small soft tortilla wrappers, a salsa packet, and taco seasoning.  Usually I don’t purchase these pre-packaged meals and instead opt for buying it all separately – since it usually comes out cheaper – this time I opted for a quick “convenient” packaged meal….AND it was only $3.  This weekend, on a small Costco for necessities, I also picked up a 4-pack of ground turkey.  Every time I would go to Costco – I would browse the meat section for ground turkey (we don’t eat much meat…but could stretch ground turkey pretty far, and it’s a nice lean protein…).  Anyways, I’ve never been able to find it! I FINALLY found a meat-man putting some meat out, and he pointed me in the right direction. It was under my nose the entire time 😦  I was able to pick up this 4 pack (just under 6lbs) for $16.

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Now, I know what you’re thinking – that’s a LOT of ground turkey! But here’s what I did (and what I do with chicken that come in packs like this as well).  I took 8 ziplock bags – folded over the tops to keep them clean, cut each package of meat in 1/2, and placed them in the ziplock baggies – being sure to write the date on each bag heaven forbid they get lost in the bottomless pit of the freezer only to be found months from now…. 😉

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And voila! 8 portions of ground turkey in perfect meal amounts (for my family of 4 eaters…baby doesn’t count just yet…)  At just $2 per meal, I would say this isn’t that bad and SO easy to just reach in the freezer and grab one of these baggies to prep dinner!

So, here was our dinner tonight – ground turkey tacos and burritos. It was the kids’ 1st time having “build your own taco night” and they loved it!

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Dinner breakdown:
– taco kit $3
– ground turkey – $2
– homegrown tomatoes from my parents’ garden – FREE
– small bowl of cheese – 25 cents?
– 1 head of lettuce sliced up (from Costco pack of Romain lettuce) – $1.25

Total cost of meal: $6.50 
Kids had fun, we all were fully fed and satisfied, and we got our veggies and lean protein in 😉

By planning out our monthly meals on this calendar, I anticipate saving time, money, not having to make as many trips to the grocery store, and not wasting foods/ingredients that we already have on hand.  I plan on having dedicated “leftover nights” as well as “eat-out-on-a-budget” nights!  (Denny’s on Tuesdays from 4-10pm for kids eat FREE meals anyone?)  This will encourage our family to get more creative with meals and think outside the box (especially towards the end of the month if our food budget is dwindling down).

Here’s to no longer standing in front of the fridge thinking “we have nothing to eat”.  All I have to do now is turn to my left, look at the food calendar on the wall, and start fixing whatever it says to fix – since I would have already shopped accordingly and should have all those ingredients on hand!

 

Honest after-baby insights

Little Monroe is now just 1 day shy of making 3 weeks old. It’s amazing just how quickly she’s growing!  Since I’ve gone through this a couple times before, I figure it may be insightful to some to share some of the things I’ve picked up along the way – things people don’t necessarily tell you – after you have your baby.  Watch the video below for my “Honest after-baby insights.” 🙂


I forgot to mention in the video – another thing that “most” people don’t tell you is that when you have a breastfed baby, it’s not uncommon for them to go up to TEN days without pooping!! WHOA.  With Milo, I was so concerned that I kept calling his pediatrician. Well, after about 7 days….explosion.  Maya was the same way but I think she made it to 11 days?  So far Monroe’s stretch has been 5 days.  The pediatrician said that when babies are breastfed, their bodies absorb almost ALL nutrients, so there’s just not much poop leftover that needs to come out. If they’re having enough wet diapers, then they’re not concerned too much…as long as their poo is liquidy whenever it “does” come out. Sorry if this is TMI, but a mustard consistency is what I’m familiar with, lol.  I ALWAYS try to be prepared and pack an extra outfit in my diaper bag just in case though as the days between poopy diapers increases….you never know when that explosion day is going to come! 😉

Here’s your pic fix of Miss Monroe…such a sleeping angel!

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Brazil Butt Lift?!

Nope, not talking about getting some sort of plastic surgery. 😛  I’m talking about a WORKOUT!  This was one of the very 1st workouts I purchased (via a Challenge Pack).  It included everything shown below – workout DVD’s, eating/meal guide, workout calendar, body measuring tape, and a month of Shakeology.

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Today, I successfully completed my very 1st post baby workout!  I was told by my midwife, that as long as I physically felt up to it, I had her go-ahead to start exercising from 2 weeks postpartum.  (as long as I wasn’t powerlifting…she was serious about this…I delivered at a Military hospital and she said she had some serious fitness enthusiasts who push themselves too hard and start INTENSELY working out from 1-2 weeks after baby! WHOA…)  Anyways, today, I am 2.5 weeks out from having Monroe (17 days to be exact). I’ve been feeling great so I decided to begin with a fairly low impact form of exercise.  Currently, we have Focus T25, P90X3, Hip Hop Abs, TurboFire, and Brazil Butt Lift workouts.  Yes, you could say I’ve been stockpiling workouts while I was pregnant. 🙂  Out of all of those, I figured the Brazil Butt Lift workout would be the most low-impact – giving my body a little more leeway (compared to the others).  Plus, I honestly didn’t feel ready to be jumping all over the place, and sweating bullets.

Well, yes to “no jumping all over the place” but forget the “no sweating bullets” part!  I did the 20 minute Basics workout which breaks down each move for you – prepping you for your workouts to come, followed by a 35 minute Boom Boom workout (apparently what they call the booty in Brazil) and man was I dripping by the time I was done with these 2!  My thighs felt the burn, my core was kept engaged throughout, my glutes…..I can feel them starting the get “lifted” (lol….just kidding, not YET, but I definitely felt a burn there too!). I was challenged in every sense of the word throughout this entire workout. There wasn’t a whole lot of jumping (just one section of burpees for 30-45 secs or so) so this was a low impact workout in my book – but what it lacked in impact intensity, it made up for in targeted muscle engagement.

Here’s some pics that my amazing husband took….one-handed while holding baby…in our new, 1/2 complete, home gym (A.K.A. garage… 😉 ) Maya even got in on the action copying mama!  Good habits start young and we fully intend on setting a healthy example for our children:

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Those pics may not “seem” like a big deal, but:
1) this was my very 1st post Monroe workout
2) by the time I was done, I was sweating bullets and my legs felt like jelly
3) this is the 1st step towards getting a ‘Brazil Butt’!
4) I’m not showing all the other pics because they were blurry and I looked too awkward! lol…

I’ll be the first to admit that it takes me awhile to catch on to moves and I’m still working on my coordination, but I had so much fun with this workout!  If you’re thinking of setting up some sort of workout studio – I HIGHLY recommend trying to set up a mirror so you can watch yourself workout – I truly feel it helps with your form so you can try to correct yourself to look more like the people in the video. You don’t need a huge one like the one my husband just set up in our garage – a small one will do just fine! I know Walmart has full length mirrors starting at $7-10 – one of those would be great!

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Anyways, great thing about being able to workout in the comfort of our own home now: I don’t have to waste time driving to a gym – paying for a gym membership – and finding childcare (since we have THREE kids now!), I don’t have to look awkward doing difficult coordination moves in front of anyone other than myself (in my reflection), and MOST importantly… I get to hold my baby girl in my arms again the minute I’m done… 🙂

So, did I spark your interest in trying the Brazil Butt Lift workout?!  To order or to read up more about this, click HERE . I can’t wait til tomorrow to do my next Brazil Butt Lift workout in the series!

Must have newborn essentials!

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In the world of baby, it seems like every other company these days is trying to make a quick buck off of new parents by marketing EVERYTHING as a baby “must have” item.  With Milo, I fed into that to a certain extent because I just had no clue! I read baby books, signed up for registries and followed their “suggested” items lists (that were endless!), and tried to read Amazon reviews as best I could. DO YOU KNOW HOW MANY BABY ITEMS ARE ON AMAZON by the way?!  Eye opening.

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Well, 3rd time’s a charm right?  Being as this is our 3rd go round (refer to random pic above of all the kiddos), I feel that I’ve been able to pick up lots of 1st hand knowledge along the way. I’m still learning things as I go, finding new products here and there but feel that I’ve generally got a good grasp on what items worked for us and what other items just took up space and cost lots of money.

Hopefully this video can shed some light into what “I” personally have found to be newborn/baby essentials!  Amongst the world of baby gadgets and gizmos, these are all items that I definitely will keep purchasing with every subsequent baby or…..lets face it I will just SAVE all these items because it hurts to spend money on the same things time and time again when they’re used for such short periods of time…(and we want more kids 😉 )

* in the video I think I called the nursing pillow My “best” friend nursing pillow….that should be “My BREST friend nursing pillow”

Green thumb

When Marv deployed back in June 2013, we had basically just moved into our house and had barely enough time to completed renovations.  Being left in our new house, with just myself and the kids, I decided I would use the deployment time to make the house a bit more ‘homey’! Since the inside of the house was pretty much “done” this meant I could focus my efforts on the backyard.  Here was my garden space BEFORE:

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With LOTS of help from my dad (who has a serious green thumb…), we set out together to create my own little slice of garden heaven.  Thank heavens for Home Depot being just down the street from us….  First came purchasing some more cement blocks to create a raised barrier for the added soil and nutrients that we (and by “we” I mean my dad…) would be mixing in.  Maya was a big helper with this.

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Next came prepping the soil meaning [my dad] had to uproot a pesky tree stump, take out countless roots and grass vines, and mix in extra nutrients to ensure my new garden would have fertile, nutrient-rich, plant-growing soil 🙂  Milo was a big helper with this. Boys and dirt go hand in hand…

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Finally, the much anticipated PLANTING could begin!  To begin with, I planted a clipping of basil taken from my parents’ garden. For this one, I clipped off a 10″ or so branch of basil, then placed it in a cup of water on my windowsill for a good 1-2 weeks to give the roots some time to sprout. Once the roots were established, I then planted it right into my garden along the fence.  I planted a mini tomato plant (that was a volunteer plant from my parents’ back yard, 3 japanese cucumber plants (purchased from Home Depot), a small section of green onions (from my parent’s garden), and a small section right next to that of garlic chives (a random hybrid of chives that taste exactly like garlic!…purchased from the Hawaii Kai farmer’s market from an entirely organic booth)

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Every day, we’d go outside to check on our garden, weed it, water it, and DIG in it, lol.  I have the best helpers anyone could ask for.

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Before long, our “starter” garden started to produce!

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Within a couple months, my little garden turned into a full service farmer’s market!

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I had beets, broccoli, carrots, heavenly scent gardenia plants (that were hidden amongst some overgrown bushes right next to my “garden” when we 1st moved in…it’s amazing what a little pruning and TLC can do!), and can’t forget our dwarf avocado tree!

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SO, I’ve had my mini garden now for just about 8 months. As a recap, so far I’ve grown basil, green onions, garlic chives, carrots, beets, broccoli, and japanese cucumbers. My garden TODAY includes some of the aforementioned in addition to cantaloup vines, strawberry plants, cilantro and taro (that one just randomly popped up on its own, go figure…).

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I ALSO have papayas (that also randomly popped up in the back corner of my yard…) 2 pineapple plants (grown from pineapple tops), and can’t forget our trusty dwarf avocado tree that’s STILL giving us avocados. I’ve been eating delicious avocados now for going on 4 months…. 😀

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It’s just amazing the fulfillment that you get from being able to walk outside to your backyard and pick things from your very own garden! It saves money, you know that no harsh chemicals or pesticides were used in growing them, kids are more likely to try eating fruits and veggies that they may otherwise avoid when they’re the ones nurturing and growing them! (Milo LOVES raw broccoli picked fresh from our garden and eaten on the spot!….who would’ve guessed?), and it’s FUN watching things grow!  Can’t wait for our cantaloups in another month or so (the vines have flowers now!) since that’s Milo’s favorite fruit, and our 4 strawberry plants all have white flowers on them with little strawberries starting to bud in the center of those too!  Now the next question will be….WHAT TO GROW NEXT?!