Sunday, April 12, 2015

A Weekend To Remember

We took the kids to Great Wolf Lodge in the Poconos this past weekend and I will freely admit that I hated it for the first hour we were there. Hated. It. 
We waited in a very long check-in line only to find out our room wouldn't be ready for a while. So, we decided to go into the water park and let the kids swim rather than make them wait. We pulled our bathing suits out of the suitcase and headed into the waterpark where there were no cabanas available, no lockers available and the changing rooms were filthy. I honestly wanted to leave. 

So, I took a deep breath and thought about how excited the kids were to be there. Then, I reminded myself that this was not the Ritz Carlton and to chill out and just go with the flow. Let the fun begin.

Since there were no lockers, I put our clothes in a pile in the corner, crossed my fingers they would be there when we got back and headed to the water park - which was thankfully a lot cleaner than the changing rooms.


We wound up staying in the water park for over 5 hours. The kids had the best time and we loved seeing how much fun they were having. 

When we got back to the room, we showered the kids, ordered a pizza and watched a movie. We were all completely exhausted from such a fun afternoon. 

I love that the rooms are designed for the whole family to stay together. Although, we were not quite sure how it was going to work out since all 4 kids have never slept in the same room together.....with us in the same room as well.

While we didn't have the best night's sleep ever, it really wasn't bad. The kids were amazing. They loved bunking together and it was so cute hearing them talk to each other about the day as they were falling asleep.

This weekend was full of laughs, smiles on the kids faces and just the 6 of us having fun together as a family. No work, no stress, just family time. Exactly the weekend I had hoped it would be and one I know they'll always remember.

Friday, March 6, 2015

Getting Back To 'Me' and Introducing @fitsagemoms!

Two years ago, when I was in the hospital giving birth to my 4th baby, Mason, as the anesthesiologist was putting the epidural into my back he said, "Wow, you have the back of a truck driver."  I said, "Excuse me?" He said, "You have the back of someone who sits a lot. Truck drivers sit a lot."  OMG!  My mom was in the room with me and she seriously almost punched this guy.  Now, while it was an extraordinarily rude and awful thing to say to anyone, especially a woman who was IN LABOR.....he was right.  I was out of shape and had low muscle tone, as a result, my 4th pregnancy was really difficult for me physically.    


Fast forward to last spring. I looked in the mirror and I didn't recognize myself anymore.

Mason was almost 2 and I hadn't really lost any of the baby weight I put on over my 4 pregnancies.  It didn't help that I was on bed rest midway through my 3rd and 4th pregnancies after my 2nd baby was born a preemie.  I was sluggish, out of shape and had no enthusiasm to go out or leave the house.  I was tired all the time, kind of irritable and had constant headaches.  I didn't have the energy to take the kids to the park as much as I should have.  I didn't have the energy or desire to get dressed up and go out with my husband and I let the stress of work demands eat away at me. I lost my spark and was just spent.
For the past 7 years, all of my energy went into having my 4 wonderful children and launching my dream business, Sage Spoonfuls.  I was so immersed in my kids and work that I totally lost "me".  With a busy household and demanding work schedule, I thought I was doing the right thing by putting my personal needs on the back burner to take care of my children, my husband and my business.  I thought it would be selfish to take time out just for me.  I think most moms feel this way. I realize now how totally wrong that mentality is.  
The airlines have it right when they say, "Put your oxygen mask on first before helping anyone else."  While it feels completely counterintuitive as a mom to help yourself before helping your child, I realize now that their message is true. How can I possibly take care of anyone else to the best of my ability if I don't take care of myself?
My turning point came last spring when my 7 year old son Royce asked me to race him down the block. I expected him to win, but he completely smoked me.  He was at the corner before I even hit the midway point.  A very lame performance on my part.  I was out of breath and embarrassed.  I don't know how I could have expected to have any strength or stamina.  I mean, I hadn't been to the gym in years and I had been having 1 or 2 glasses of wine like 5 or 6 nights a week to unwind.
That evening, I told my husband Alex what happened and how I was feeling. What he told me was the spark that lit my fire.  He said, "Listen, you are going to be 40 in 8 months and you have the ability now to get your body strong again and back to where you want it to be. We're not getting any younger and in a few years, you may not have that chance."  He said, "Don't do it for me, I think you are beautiful and I love you.  I want you to do it for yourself.  When you feel good about yourself and regain your physical strength, you will be better in every aspect of your life. You'll have more energy for the kids and work stress won't get to you as much."
I'll never forget that day. That was my turning point.  As much as I hated to work out - and I mean HATE - I realized I needed to make a major change.  It was time to get back to "me".
Since that moment, I've lost 40 pounds and I feel physically stronger and healthier than I did before I had kids. My spark is back and I'm a better wife, mother and business woman because of it. I recognize myself again and it feels amazing.

All moms deserve to feel awesome.  We are the caretakers of the world and we need to put ourselves on our own schedules. Yes, we are tired, busy as hell and have such full plates that they are spilling over, BUT we must make time for ourselves. It's not about numbers on a scale, it's about being fit, healthy, strong and getting back to 'you'.  
My journey back to 'me' didn't happen overnight, but it did happen.  I look forward to sharing more of my journey with you and I would love to hear about your journey.
Follow my new Instagram account @fitsagemoms for daily tips, videos, recipes and info on being a fit mom and feeling great! Share your story with me by tagging your photos with #fitsagemoms. Let's do this ladies - we deserve it!

Monday, February 23, 2015

Turning 40 With Open Arms

I turned 40 on Sunday. Wow.

I've never been the kind of person who stresses about age, but there's something about turning 40 that's making me think. Turning 40 just seems like such a milestone. Something I feel I should stop and take notice of.

Part of me feels like I'm supposed to be freaking out or stressing about it or something. When I walked around Party City getting balloons for my party, most of the 40th birthday items had "Oh No, The Big 4-0" written on them. The only thing running through my mind was how incredibly lame that seemed. I think turning 40 is something to celebrate, not something to be dreaded.
As I sit here a newly Christened 40 year old, I don't feel stressed, I'm not freaking out and I certainly don't feel "Oh No."  I feel strong. I feel stronger than I ever have. My thirties were intense. It was a decade of amazing, life changing, blissful and frightening all rolled into one. My thirties saw the birth of my 4 wonderful children, 3 moves, 10 years of marriage to the love of my life, the launch of Sage Spoonfuls and a whole new career for me.

My thirties also saw many personal and professional challenges. The kind of challenges that made me stand up, fight and figure out who I really am. I no longer care what people think of me, I no longer sweat the small stuff, I'm putting myself on my own agenda and I've learned to live life in the moment, because that's all we really have. I've learned that stressing about stuff is useless, I've learned not to freeze when life gets tough, I've learned to put the phone down at dinner. I've learned to turn everything off when I'm with my kids and I've realized the importance of letting my husband know how much I adore him.

I can't turn back time, so I'm going to embrace 40. I earned every year and every year has made it's mark on me. As I enter this new decade of my life, this new chapter of my story, I'm taking what I've learned in my 30's and welcoming 40 with open arms.

I feel blissful. I feel calm. I feel blessed. Bring it on 40, let's do this.

If you're also turning 40 this year - I wish you every happiness as you usher in this new decade!

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Spicing Up Your Homemade Baby Food

Herbs and spices can enhance the flavor of any meal, including your homemade baby food. Use them in a way that works into your life, culture and diet. Herbs and spices can usually be introduced at 6 months. Introduce them one at a time, as you would with other foods to see if your child has any reactions. If you have a family history of food allergies, please discuss any concerns with your pediatrician first.

You can use fresh or dried herbs and spices in your homemade baby food. If you are using dried, please buy organic whenever possible. Conventionally processed dried herbs and spices are normally irradiated for shelf life, organic are not. This process is used to achieve shelf life, but i also lessens the health benefits of the herb or spice and may even pose a health risk due to the radiation.

Some of my favorite herbs and spices for homemade baby food are basil, ginger, turmeric, sage and cinnamon.

Basil has a light, fresh, almost mint like flavor. There are many varieties with sweet basil being the most popular. Basil contains flavonoids which protect the body’s cell structures from free radical damage, giving it anti-cancer benefits. For babies 7-9 months and up, try finely chopping some fresh basil and sprinkling on pastina with homemade tomato sauce and a dash of parmesan cheese. Basil pairs well with sweet potato, butternut squash, zucchini and salmon.

Ginger is fragrant with a slightly sweet and hot flavor. There are many different varieties, Jamaican ginger is the most common. It is well known to provide relief from gastrointestinal ailments and can be helpful when your baby has gas, an upset stomach or if he suffers from motion sickness. Ginger is widely available both fresh and dried. Unpeeled fresh ginger will stay fresh in your refrigerator for about 2 weeks. A little ginger goes a long way so don't use too much. Ginger pairs well with most fruit, pumpkin, carrots, squash, broccoli, sweet potatoes, rice, poultry and meat.

Turmeric is warm, earthy and a little bitter. It is known to have anti-inflammatory properties and can be helpful when your baby has gas or swollen gums from teething. Turmeric has also been shown to decrease pain from rheumatoid arthritis and is a powerful antioxidant that can help protect against childhood cancers, including leukemia. Turmeric pairs well with cauliflower, lentils, beef, lamb and rice.

Sage has a minty, earthy and slightly bitter flavor. It has been shown to boost the immune system and improve circulation. However, it is also known to dry up milk in lactating women, so if you are nursing or pumping, avoid eating sage. It pairs well with butternut squash, sweet potato, pumpkin, beans, pork and poultry.

Cinnamon is my favorite spice, it's easy to use and tastes great with a large variety of foods. It has an aromatic, sweet and light spicy flavor. There are over 200 different varieties, with Ceylon being the most popular and widely available. Cinnamon has been shown to aid in circulation and digestion. Cinnamon is delicious with fruit, eggplant, parsnips, carrots, sweet potato, pumpkin, butternut squash and oatmeal.

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Dinner Meal Plan - Week of January 5, 2015

Veggie Quesadillas

Salmon Teriyaki
Chicken Chili with Black Beans & Veggies
Mini Veggie Omelette Muffins
Roast Chicken


Monday, December 29, 2014

The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year!

The holiday season is always special to me and a great time spent with family and friends, but something was different this year. This year, Christmas was spectacular. This year, it was really amazing and my heart is full of gratitude.
We started our Christmas celebrating with Hayden and Brendan's school concerts and class parties. Such a joy to see all of these beautiful little faces singing and so excited for the holidays. I was also thrilled that the kids loved my Smiling Snowman cupcakes!

December 20th
Alex and I had been wanting to renew our vows for a while. We decided that there was no more perfect time to do it than right before Christmas. It was a very intimate ceremony held in the same church we were married and officiated by the same priest who married us in 2004. It was beautiful. Magical really. We truly couldn't have asked for more.


Dec. 21st
We had a big brunch in the city with Alex's side of the family. It's something we've done every year and is such a great opportunity to see the extended family and for the kids to play with so many of their cousins. We didn't do the brunch last year, because Alex's father passed away on December 6th. This year we wanted to make sure we all got together, not only to see each other, but to remember Pops.
December 22nd
Hayden and I had a girls day. We took the train into the city and saw the Radio City Christmas Spectacular. Even though she loved seeing the Rockettes in their sparkly dresses, she didn't last the entire show. We made it for 70 of the 90 minutes, not bad for a 3 year old. I was just so happy to have the experience of seeing the show together and taking her on her first train ride.

Dec 23rd
This is both my mom's birthday and Royce's birthday! We always celebrate together and this year we took a bunch of Royce's friends to the Islanders game and it was awesome.

December 24th
Christmas Eve is a big night in our house. My father is from Austria and I grew up celebrating Christmas Eve the way he did. Alex and I love the Austrian Christmas Eve tradition so much that we have continued it in our house.
In Austria, Christmas Eve is a big celebration filled with family, friends, songs, going to church and a traditional dinner. The meal is followed by the ringing of a bell. The bell means that presents are beneath the tree and the kids come running. In Austria, children are taught that their presents have been brought by the "Kristkindl," a golden-haired baby with wings, who symbolizes the new born Christ.


Of course, we believe in Santa. So we blend the tradition of the bell and gifts after dinner, but they are delivered by Santa rather than by the Kristkindl. We just tell the kids that our house is one of Santa's first stops Christmas Eve and that's why we get our presents before Christmas morning.

It takes a lot of planning to make the gifts appear under the tree without the kids noticing. Each year, we come up with different distractions for them, like giving them baths after dinner and ringing the bell once they're all in their pajamas. It's an amazing sight to see them running down the stairs and out the front door looking for Santa and his sleigh, then running back inside and screaming with delight that presents are under the tree.

Of course, it's not a holiday in our house without the funny hats. Don't know where that tradition came from, but I love it. 



I was spoiled this Christmas. Not because of any material gift, it was being surrounded by the people I love most in the world and seeing each one of them happier than they've been in a long time.....including myself.
I hope each of you had a warm, wonderful and happy holiday season surrounded by the people you love most.