Summer 2018 Part 1

Summer is in full swing around here. Parties, swimming, hosting friends over, hot days, late nights and yummy foods.

We have a party every weekend. Crazy, but fun. For one party, I took the girls to Scooters Jungle and they were stoked to bounce around. I like how it was a smaller party, so the girls could have a bouncer to themselves, and it was low enough for Tay to climb into.

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1.5 hours inside the bouncer is tiring, for the adults!

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It was Ella's 3rd birthday and what's better than a dino themed party with cheese pizza and cupcakes?! We know Ella from church and the girls loved getting together to celebrate her big day.

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That night, my bro D came over to hang with LJ and Eden, (we put the baby to bed at 7pm) and Ant and I went on a movie date! We watched Mission Impossible, one of our favorite movie series, and thought it was great. IMAX screen all the way. We thought the movie was entertaining but not as good as the Dubai Mission Impossible.

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Every Sunday, we go to 9am service at church and meet up with Lola/Lolo (Ant's parents). After service they always buy the girls snacks. Spoiled.

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On Monday morning, I took the girls to the dentist. They did great, both climbed into the chairs and got their teeth cleaned with no complaining or crying. I was thankful they were so brave since I had the baby with me too. Before I left, I scheduled Tayah for her first appointment since she already has 8 teeth. Dr. Wayne is our fav!

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My nephew Hunter (age 7) has been around a lot in the mornings and it's so sweet to see him and Tayah bond. Here they are playing my Grandpa and Grandma's piano together.

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One weeknight, Hunter had a scrimmage nearby our house, so we walked over after dinner and watched him play. It was intense!

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It was a great summer night - chill, warm weather with a cool breeze. LJ joinied the team for snacks after the game.

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We've had a heat wave lately in So Cal and this past month has reached high 80's. That is hot for us. Now, in mid August, it's just starting to ease up, and the temp has dropped back to mid 70's, just how we like it. We've played outside a lot on the trampoline - it's the perfect size for the kiddos, ages 4 and 3.

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In food news, I've been enjoying some delicious meals and still eating relatively healthy. My SIL Jen made these Vietnamese noodle bowls and they were SO LEGIT. I poured fish sauce all over and slurp it down. Man, I want this dish again after seeing this pic.

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Here's a pretty toast I made for breakie. Avocado on top of toasted wheat sourdough, topped with Everything But The Bagel seasoning. I make it for Hunter too, with a scrambled egg too. YUM. And for my lunches, I've been making colorful salads everyday. I use some type of chicken, or a chili lime chicken burger (from Trader Joes) and add in veggies, plantain chips, and honey mustard. It's so refreshing, and filling, yet light.

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Every Friday night we are continuing to lead the young adult group at our church. This is where we feel God has called our family to serve within our church. Ant shares a message every week (he studies on week nights after work) and I take care of the potluck table, as well as get our girls checked into childcare class. He's teaching through a great series called GROWN UP, out of James chapter 3.

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On this particular Friday night, Tayah cried in the class, so I got her out and she went to sleep on me in the Ergo baby carrier. I love her cuddles.

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Saturday morning I took it slow with the girls, purged some stuff from our house to donate, while they painted in the garage. Then I made a colorful salad for my lunch - I put in everything from my fridge and pantry. SO GOOD> I made sure to eat healthy because  that day we headed to the OC Fair.

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And here is where my hubby was that Saturday morning. He played in a basketball tournament at our family friends house. They have a basketball court in their backyard, overlooking the cities below. He came home sweaty and tired but injury free, which is all I asked for!

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Around 4pm, we met up at church with The Bridge folks (church group), and headed out on a 30 minute drive. We parked our cars and caught the FREE shuttle that was near the mall.

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It was hot that day, and our game plan to get there in the late afternoon and hang out at night, worked out well. The ticket and security lines were short and we got inside by 5:30pm.

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Our first stop was $9 face painting!

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And then of course, FOOD. I felt so much pressure to get GOOD items at the fair. Why? Because there are so many choices and I didn't want to regret my purchase. I went with TWO corn on the cobs (one with flaming hot Cheetos on top) and they did not disappoint. We also got a giant corn dog and it was juicy and flavorful. Success! Tay even climbed on the table to chomp the corn dog. 

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Here's our young adult church group, including my cousin Kacie and her bf Russ. 

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I love that Tay could share her first fair experience with her best friend, Harley. They are both 1!

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After we all ate, it was time to win some prizes! We won't say how many rounds of games that Ant and Uncle D played in order to get each girl a stuffed animal. The water game had the best percent chance of winning and the shooting hoop game was the hardest!

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As a last effort, Uncle D shot the basketball ONCE more and won Tayah a giant dog. I made sure he got a cute prize and not a 6 ft tall neon giraffe (looks cool but not something I want in my living room).

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We spent our last few bucks on ice cream cones and the butterfly exhibit. By 7pm the weather was SO NICE. The pic of the girls sitting on the ground is my favorite, and they are each wearing a sweater auntie Jess brought them back from Peru on her recent mission trip.

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See you next year, OC Fair!

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On Sunday, I took Karin out for her birthday. We went to a new place in Tustin called Morning Lavender. It was a cute shop and cafe combo.

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She bought a super cute denim dress.

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We were seated in the patio at 10am, and it was nice, but by 11am it was HOT! We had black tea (good) and blood orange tea (not good), but the true highlight was the strawberry croissant. It was from a shop down the road called Cream Pan (Japanese, French bakery). BOMB. We went to Cream Pan after to pickup some extra to take home.

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This place had the cutest details. Happy birthday Rin - my friend who I've known for 36 years!

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The next day (Monday) I drove the girls to 1 hour South to hang out with my sis-in-law and kiddos. Her Mom has a fabulous pool and we spent the day in the cool water. 

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To make the day even better, we took along some Chick Fi-A nuggets.

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And to round out our afternoon we drove a mile to get Acai bowls. That short drive was enough to knock out Juni and Tayah.

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Later that week, my Mom made a pineapple upside down cake. It came out perfect and so moist (Duncan recipe uses a packet of vanilla pudding).

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And on Friday, the 10th we celebrated Tayah's 1st birthday (which is on August 11th). My Mom's 90 year old neighbor Barbara came over and gave Tay a present. She is the sweetest.

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We decided to make frozen banana slices, covered with peanut butter, nutella, and (a little too many) sprinkles.

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Saturday, August 11th. My baby turned ONE!

For breakfast I made her favorite smoothie - frozen spinach, frozen pineapple, frozen berries, banana, almond milk, and vanilla yogurt. She slurped it up. Her ates (older sisters) gave her birthday cuddles.

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Then we took her outside for a mini photo shoot. Ive taken a pic of all three of my girls in this onesie. I have to find the others to do a side by side!

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That afternoon (yes, on Tay's bday), we had a wedding! It was close by at church and it was the first time we witnessed a wedding in the atrium. our friends Erica and Arturo met at church and we've known them both individually and together. Their love story is such a testimony of what God has done, and is continuing to do in their lives. (Older girls were with Lola and Tay was with my Auntie and Mom).

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After the ceremony, we found ourselves with a 2 hour break, so I invited all our friends over our place to hang out and play Catch Phrase. We laughed and played until the last minute, then all headed to the restaurant for the reception.

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The bride and groom look like models!

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We had a great time and then had to exit a bit early to go get Eden who was crying for us (and didn't want to sleepover Lola's house). Here we are being goofy with Jared and Cindy.

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The next day we went swimming at Karin's house after church. I'm trying to have Lenny practice her swimming every weekend. She LOVES the water.

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Uncle Jon and Karin swam with the girls and then we had yummy Pita 360 for dinner.

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We also brought a smash cake for Tayah, that Lola Gigi had bought for her. She dug into it and noshed on the frosting.

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Monday night we had Ant's HS friends Jill and Kevin over for dinner. They were so sweet to bring us pizza and we caught upon all things work and life. They are expecting their first baby in Dec, so we celebrated that joyous news with them!

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This past Friday I took Eden to the nearbly splash pad and it was awesome.

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I love that this activity was close by and FREE. We met up with a few friends and enjoyed water play and snack time.

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That day was my Dad's dog Bailey's 6th birthday!

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To wrap up this post, I'll end on these pics of my husband Ant in the hospital! To make a long story short, we had to ride an ambulance to the hospital at 4am on Saturday morning. Rather than a fun filled weekend in San Diego with our church leadership team, we spent 30 hours together cooped up with nurses and meds. He had a sudden infection and inflammation in his small intestine and that led to lots of pain. He couldn't eat or drink for the duration of the stay, but thankfully got to walk out of there on Sunday evening around 9pm.

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Meanwhile, our three daughters were getting loved on by Lolo Tim, Lola Gigi and the other set of grand parents as well. I was able to stay over Sat night with Ant in the hospital and it was nice to hang out. It was like a date night for us.

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Our friends went ahead to SD and had a wonderful weekend (they stayed Sat-Sun). We missed them but got lots of picture updates!

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Sunday afternoon I took the girls to my Uncle's house to get some fresh air (Ant had lots of family visiting him in the hospital). I love being with my Komae cousins.

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The dinner was EPIC, as expected. Every meal at Uncle Glenn's and Auntie Steph's is next level. Tay enjoyed four slices of watermelon for her meal.

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After the party, we stopped by to break Ant out of the hospital. He was cleared to head home around 8pm on Sunday night after eating some soft foods and being pain free. Praise God! To everyone who messaged us and prayed for him, thank you!

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After Whole 30

This post concludes my Whole 30 journey. Thanks to everyone who has followed along and watched my daily Instagram stories. It was a lot of fun to document this challenge. Here are the last few days of the challenge and the goodies I ate AFTER.

July 19th was my Auntie Julie's birthday and her daughter Kristi has inherited her AMAZING baking skills (Praise The Lord). She made this blueberry cheese cake (my Nana's recipe) from scratch and it was a beauty. I couldn't eat it though. But according to the descriptions of EVERY SINGLE PERSON around me, it was THE BOMB. There were also home made scones. I wasn't tempted, but would have liked one bite of that cheesecake.

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We are all SO thankful for Auntie Julie and all the help she lends around the house (my Mom's house). She even changes poop diapers (of my kids)! Wow, talk about sacrificial.

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She snapped this picture of me playing with Tayah and I thought it was a sweet moment of joy.

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Back to the food. My FINAL week of Whole 30 I started out with LOTS of motivation to finish strong, even the desire to buy, shell and de-vein shrimp. This is not a pleasant job, but the payoff was worth it. I breaded the shrimp in egg and unsweetened shredded coconut flakes and then fried them in coconut oil. It only took a few minutes for them to brown, and then I dipped the crispy goodness in orange marmalade that was Whole 30 approved. I bought it on Amazon specifically for this dish. The coconut shrimp was delightful.

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Next, this egg picture was a beautiful savory breakfast I made, well, my husband made the egg for me.

That week, my nephew Hunter had VBS and one morning I took the youngest 4 kids to listen to the music. Hopefully they can go next year!

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For this dinner, I was eating leftover spaghetti squash pasta that was a bit lack luster, so I blended a cream sauce out of cashews, coconut milk and some spices. It wasn't bad.

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This little sweet potato hack was an A+ item. I sliced the yam really thin, put a little olive oil on the slices and baked in the oven for 35 min at 375 degrees. Crispy and sweet without any added sugars. Also, very filling. I recommend trying it!

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My go to breakfast here, before and after.

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I made quite a bit of cauliflower rice the last week, here sauteed up like a hash and then alongside some really good chili. I'd eat that chili again, it was full of flavor!

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Friday night, Tayah got a cold and was feeling all sorts of cranky and boogery. I still took the girls to church, but kept Tay in the ergo so she wouldn't spread her germs and could sleep. It was Chloe's birthday - Chloe helps out with the girls a lot and they love her like a big sis (Ate).

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A team that went to Peru shared their experiences with the church group on Friday. It's incredible to see young adults from the Bridge ministry, gonig OUT to share about Jesus around the world.

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Saturday morning I made a few more slices of sweet potato and topped them with almond butter and blueberries.

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That afternoon, we headed back to church for a wedding! Our friends Jade and Andrew tied the knot in a teary, God honoring ceremony. It was sweet and beautiful. We know them from church, both The Bridge and the children's ministry.

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Our three daughters were with Lola and Lolo, so Ant and I were on a date! We got to hang with so many of our church friends. Erica, holding the sign "I'm next" gets married in two weeks!

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Now hear me out here - SHHHH. I took my own dinner to the wedding reception. To start, I didn't know the menu (it was Italian) and secondly, I didn't want to be starving or only eating an apple. So, I brought a lunch bag with my own salad dressing and a bowl of chili and it was SO GOOD. (I ate it room temp). I felt bad about not eating the pasta, but it was a buffet so maybe someone else ate double their share to count as mine? And, I tried to be discreet about bringing in my own food. But in order to keep the Whole 30 rules in mind, I stuck with it. I'm glad I did.

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The friends we sat with were great: Ochaos, Costas and Wendas.

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The next day I whipped up a cabbage and brussels sprout scramble with some sausage I had pre-made. This was my lunch after church.

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Sunday dinner we drove to our friends house for a dinner date. I brought a kale salad and they grilled up some Thai bbq chicken. I decided ahead of time that I was going to eat their grilled chicken alongside the salad I brought (Whole 30 approved). It was a fine compromise and made it easier overall. I drank water and skipped dessert. 

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Jess and Chase are friends we met in Feb at a church retreat. We loved chatting about leading a team, serving as parents and balancing work, life and ministry. Jess is pregnant with her second son, due in a few months.

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The next week, the kids had swim every afternoon. Len and Cam (and their friend Kamryn) have been doing so great improving their swim skills.

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My dinner one week night, took five minutes. It was a microwaved sweet potato topped with sausage, tomato sauce and veggies. Filling and quick. The next day, I had leftover Thai salad and it was fresh and yummy.

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A few more go to's - frozen banana slices with almond butter (at 11pm) and an egg scramble the next morning for breakfast.

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My final lunch and dinner on day 30: orange chicken bowl with cauliflower rice and then a sausage zoodle dish (I had a lot of sausage to eat up). 

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Tues night (day 30) we had guys/girls small groups over and I avoided all pizza (with less temptation this week) and actually didn't even snack that night. I knew the next morning was my first day to eat bread again, ha.

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Wednesday, July 25th - Day 1 after Whole 30

And eat bread is exactly what I did the morning after I completed 30 days of no carbs, sugar, dairy or grains. I had been thinking about creamer with coffee and pb Dave's Killer bread for weeks. It was yummy.

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I then ate lemon bars that my Auntie made FRESH and my Mom's lasagne on a sour dough toast.

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Let me just mention here that this is not the proper re-entry that the Whole 30 plan encourages. However, I was feeling like enjoying some flavors I had missed, and decided to try to do it in moderation. By the afternoon my stomach hurt from eating bread and coffee creamer, so I went back to Whole 30 principles for dinner. Build a dish around protein and use lots of colorful veggies. That made my stomach feel better.

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The two days following, I ate a few more things such as yogurt, granola, cheerios with 2% milk, white rice, etc. It was all in small amounts and enjoyable while eating, but most of it left me with a slight stomach ache and feeling of being bloated. I also did two workouts this past week as I had missed that element of my day. I'm still trying to find my stride in food freedom and balance. When I would bite into a cookie, I would taste ALL the butter and sugar and not be able to eat the entire thing. At the same time, I want to enjoy a dessert here and there without guilt.

Ultimately I'd like to be a healthy, mindful eater, fill my plate with lots of greens and veggies and know I can enjoy toast, coffee and sweets as well. Moving forward I'll keep up with kitchen creativity and hope to try new recipes.

Will I do another Whole 30? Not at the current moment. For now, I'd like to focus on working out, and potty training Eden (shes 3). I'll put my energy there for now and see how it goes. But this past Whole 30 was a fantastic expereince and I highly recommend taking on the challenge.

Whole 30 (round 3)

At the beginning of this year, I formed a Moms group with a few (hehe 20) of my friends from church. We made a chat room and use it to share advice, invite each other to hang outs, vent our Mommy stresses and encourage one another. It's an amazing group of women. 

Early in June, three of the Moms invited us to join them on a Whole 30 challenge that would begin the last week of June, go through the 4th of July (holiday alert), and end on July 24th. I decided to join in, mostly for the comraderie and the challenge of willpower and discipline alongside my friends. It's incredible what you can do when you have friends to check in with daily. 

As a back story, I completed Whole 30 twice before. Once in 2016, and November of 2017. Each time I learned a lot, lost 7lbs and gained a vast amount of nutrition knowledge. 

This post is most of my food from the last three weeks. I took pictures regularly to share on IG and in my Mom group. Plus, what's more inspiring than making a pretty plate of food for your friends to see? ha ha.

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Tayah was 10 months old when I started this food challenge. I also have 4.5 year old and 3 year old daughters.

This first lunch was a jar salad. I took it to my Mom's house on a weekday, sprinkled on some crunchy almonds and poured over the balsamic dressing. It was full of flavor, but I did get hungry by 2pm. It's crucial to have healthy snacks on hand. Actually, if you have a truly filling meal, you shoudn't NEED to snack, but I like the format of breakfast, snack, lunch, snack, dinner and have adapted to it well for my regular lifestyle (before and after this challnege).

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A common breakfast my first week was a cup of hot green tea and Aidell's chicken apple sausage hash (sweet potato, onion, red bell pepper, mushrooms, olive oil and oregano). I made a huge batch of this to last the entire week. It's an easy dish that I can chop up and bake on 2 sheet pans in the oven for 40 min. And I don't get too tired of it. 

I should probably pause here and remind you of the Whole 30 rules:

1. No dairy 2. No grains 3. No sugar (natural sugar from fruit is ok) 4. No carbs (bread, rice, noodles) 5. No grains (including corn).

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For my first week of meal prep I made two soups: red Thai curry veggie soup and Zuppa Toscana. The batches of soup were huge so I ate it for about 4 meals then got sick of it and froze the rest for the last week of July. I could only repeat meals about 3 times before dreading eating it again. And we should not dread eating. 

Both soups below were made with no dairy, but using coconut milk instead. I use A LOT of full fat canned coconut milk and a lot of unsweetened vanilla almond milk. Thank goodness for these dairy alternatives!

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The Zuppa Toscana was one of my favorite meals. My husband ate it too - he opted to NOT do Whole 30 along with me due to his work lunches, BUT did join me and went sugar free the last 10 days of my challenge.

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I felt like the Thai soup needed to be buffed up a bit, so I added in one spiraled zucchini and it was yummy. I quickly saute the zucchini in a pan with olive oil and salt and pepper and the texture comes out just right. I used this spiralizer from Amazon. Easey to use and easy to clean.

I also tried drinking La Croix (fizzy carbonated water) but need to get the orange flavor, because that one is best. Usually, I'm fine just drinking water and I don't miss any other cold drinks.

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One easy snack to make is date balls with 3 ingredients: pitted dates, unsweetened coconut flakes and unsalted cashews. They blend to make a sticky consistency that I like to roll into balls and leave in my fridge. They make for a nice late night dessert, but my fav use of them is crumbled in my almond milk fruit "cereal" or on top of my smoothie bowl.

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On this particular morning, I had a smoothie (frozen spinach, frozen pineapple, almond milk, banana, frozen berries) at 7am and a scrambled egg and avo at 10am. Instead of ketchup I use Frank's hot sauce or cholula (both compliant hot sauces).

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Here's a common lazy lunch - pre made hash as a salad, Primal Kitchen ranch dressing and some cucumbers.

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Another Primal Kitchen item I used was avocado mayo to make chicken curry lettuce wraps. But I think I had a weird reaction to the mayo because I had a stomach ache after eating this meal 2x. It also could have been my body adjusting to not eating dairy or sugar for the first 5 days. Either way, it was a bummer to feel yucky the first week.

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I think the easiest savory breakfast is an egg scramble.  BUT I do not like eggs that much, so I had to TRY to eat savory breakfasts. I will say, I do like egg cups or muffins, but only with feta cheese, so again I had to TRY to enjoy this veggie scramble.

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One thing that made eggs THAT much better was fresh salsa! It was my first time making it in my vitamix and it was watery, but THE BOMB. I just used de-seeded tomatoes on the vine, one jalepeno, onion, cilantro, salt, cumin, garlic and lime.

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It was time for my first weekend and it was it's own challenge. I had to think ahead one, or two meals and TAKE MY OWN FOOD with me. Now, I do have a Whole 30 friend who wings it and finds things to eat, but I've not had that luck, so rather than live off of apples, I carry my lunch bag with me to odd places.

First up, I picked up my girls from a sleepover at my bro's house on Saturday. I offered to bring them lunch and swooped up two pizza's - boy did that smell good. I had my food in hand and although it wasn't pizza, it filled me up. I'm glad I didn't compromise.

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Next to tackle - a weekend kids party! We have one or two every weekend of summer. For this party, I took chicken, roasted cauliflower and salsa. The food at the party was pizza and Filipino food, but I was quite happy with my meal. I ate at the same time everyone ate, but no one really minded that I brought my own food. And that's the thing - a few folks might ask, but otherwise, no one cares.

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This is a pretty summer salad. Hard boiled eggs are a good go-to protein for a meal or snack.

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On July 3rd I made a dessert for my family for the 4th of July party we were attending. It was a dark chocolate Nutella pizzokie. I didn't taste it, but everyone said it was the bomb. My dessert was banana slices topped with almond butter, coconut shavings and pecans. I like this dessert best frozen!

The thing about temptation during whole 30 is that YES it's hard, but the decision to not eat sugar is already made for me, so I just go with it. The truly hard part comes on day 31 when you have to learn food freedom and management, and how to eat in moderation.

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Wow, I really was on a salad kick that first week. I love the freshness of lettuce (I use butter lettuce). My friend Elisa said she found butter lettuce at the 99c store (it costs $2.99 at Albertsons).

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This dinner was pork chops. I used coconut aminos to make it sort of Asian flavored and cooked  my carrots with sesame oil. I also bought rainer cherries as a treat. I HIGHLY recommend having coconut aminos on hand (soy sauce replacement) as it can make any meal Asian if you cook with ginger and garlic.

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During my 30 days of eating super clean, my husband and kids ate "regular" food. And by that I mean, they ate out, ate convenient items and didn't meal plan. It was fine, it would have been too much mentally for me to handle to also feed them this strict, BUT I will say I have room to improve on the foods my kids eat. I'm working on that.

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Here's a yummy breakfast!

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Four days of the week I eat this for breakfast: almond milk, strawberries, blueberries, almonds, pecans and a banana. SO yummy. And this day I made coffee with nut pods (picked it up at Ralphs). It was OK - not terrible, not sweet by any means. I actually like my coffee better with coconut cream mixed in. (I scoop the thick cream off the top of a chilled can of full fat coconut milk). And I only have coffee once a week. I prefer to have black tea with almond milk, or green tea.

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This breakfast was on the 4th of July - I remember clearly because I was HUNGRY and we were heading out the door to Mission Viejo (an hour away). I sliced up my sweet potato, toasted it a few rounds, topped it with almond butter and blueberries. If the sweet potato is toasted enough, it is a nice "toast."

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My last post was our pics from 4th of July, but here is my lunch I took (in a cooler). It was hamburger meat that I failed to make into patties, so it was a crumble - with Annie's mustard, Frank's hot sauce and onions that I pickled in apple cider vinegar.

A note on the onions: they were a bit sour - kind of too vinegar-y. I didn't love them. But I had a nice lunch while my kids ate french fries at the lake fair.

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This was a sausage scramble. Having eggs with Italian sausage was my favorite flavor combo. The bowl on the right has ketchup - it was my hubbys.

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Here is a berry smoothie, my Saturday go to (unsweetened vanilla almond milk, banana, spinach, pineapple and frozen berries) Tayah loved it too!

*Smoothies are generally discouraged on Whole 30 but since I use complaint ingredients I dont mind having one a few times a week.

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This dinner on the left was leftover pork chops and brussel sprouts. I LOVE how they taste roasted (olive oil, s/p and balsamic).

And I used the same 1lb of sausage I cooked up (kept in a Tupperware in the fridge) to make pasta. I used one zucchini for the zoodles, and just added store bought jar marinara sauce (Classico brand) to the meat mixture and viola...dinner in 10 min. BOMB.

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Oh this night was my Dad's birthday. Every July 5th we have peach pie from Marie Calendars for his bday treat and I decided to make my own version. I cooked up two peaches on the stove top in a pan, drizzled coconut cream on top and added cinnamon and walnuts. PERFECT.

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Friday mornings I take Eden to gymnastics class, so I made sure to eat breakfast when I woke up and then took my snack along with me. Lara bars are great - my fav flavors are cashew coookie, carrot cake and lemon.

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This was my second week of Whole 30 and I discovered a delicious and quick 5 min meal. I would toss in some veggies into a pan with ghee (clarified butter) and let them cook up. I would then toss in cooked sweet potato (I microwave mine in a damp paper towel), cooked sausage and a few compliant craisins and golden raisins. Oh, and cauliflower rice. It all cooked up and tasted like stuffing. SO GOOD. (P.S. didn't love the craisins - too tart. LOVE the golden raisins touch). I probably had this meal 5 times in a row it was so good and filling.

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Friday nights we lead our young adult group at church (ages 18-30). I took my snack along, but then we decided to go to In N Out with our group at 10pm! I google'd the whole 30 approved burger and got it. (Not 100% sure the pickles are compliant but I went with it.) It tasted yummy! We always take the girls home to get right to bed, but this night we just let them stay up and it was enjoyable.

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Protein style burger (or double patty if you want), no sauce, mustard grilled, tomato, grilled onions and pickles. 

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Another Sat morning smoothie and I made my own bbq sauce! I used a date for sweetener and it tasted delicious and thick. I used it for bbq chicken and for ribs.

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Same sausage, diff day - same 1lb of sausage.

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This Saturday I had a bridal shower to attend and a grad party. I took my own banana and jar of almond butter to the shower and ate lunch before hand of course. I didn't want to chance it that I couldn't eat any of the food. They did have fruit there which was nice. A few ladies I were sitting with asked about my snack and we had a great convo about Whole 30 and mindful eating.

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By 5pm I was at my family grad party and busted out my pork chile verde. This was an easy recipe - dump into a crockpot: thin pork loins, chopped white onion and a jar of chili verde salsa sauce. I let it cook for a few hours and chop up the pork and voila, and easy and flavorful dinner that travels well.  Everyone had taco man, but my dinner was satisfying.

I had a cashew ball for dessert.

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I finally made a trip to Target, a place I often avoid because I buy too much there- and found compliant bacon. This is really important - read labels, because some are still cured IN sugar. I ate it the next day but it was VERY salty for my taste buds.

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Sunday at church we set up a table at the lobby of the main sanctuary and were able to invite the congregation to The Bridge (or if they knew someone that was within the age range).

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I stocked up on my cauliflower rice to make for my siblings and parents (they enjoyed it). I cook it in a pan with olive oil for just a few minutes.

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A few more pics of my cereal and iced coffee. I found that the coffee was much better chilled in the fridge for a few hours rather than put over ice.

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This Monday morning we had a play group come over for a few hours to play in the water. It was 80 degrees by 10am!

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This was a bomb lunch and a nice change of pace. I made teriyaki turkey meatballs and used them for a whole week in different ways.

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This night my girls had rice balls and udon noodles from the Japanese market. Quick and easy.

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My dinner was bbq chicken with mashed sweet potatos.

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This was a mid morning sausage breakfast and my cherries as an afternoon snack. Are you getting tired of my food pics yet? Almost the end, promise. 

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BBQ chicken salad with jicima was delish but I sure was missing the corn and black beans!

And then another helping of pork chile verde. 

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This Tues night was memorable because we had our church group over from 7-11pm and I ordered Dominos to feed them. I wanted a slice SO badly. Instead I had celery with almond butter. Not exactly the same. But I'm glad I didn't cave in. 

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This day I bought salsa and it wasn't as good as my home made batch! I also tried an odd combo - tuna with balsamic and strawberries in an avocado. It was sweet and savory - good but not my fav.

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This was a nice plate - meatballs, bacon, broccoli, avo, brussel sprouts, arugula, apple, balsamic. On this day, my college roomie Veronica was in town from TX with her sons and they ate Rascals, while I made this good dish. I wish I made it for Veronica - next time.  

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Thursday night my hubby and I went to Albertsons at 7:30pm. A word about grocery shopping on Whole 30 - it is frequent! Mostly because I need fresh ingredients or different items every few days. It's exhausting. Prior to Whole 30, I do my shopping on Sunday afternoons for the first half of the week and then on Thurs morning for the weekend. I also eat a lot of free food at my Moms house. Oh you don't do that as a 36 year old? You should.

But during this challenge I went grocery shopping 3-4 times a week, for a big batch or a quick run of a few items. Maybe I could have planned better but it's hard to have lots of protein on hand ready to cook. Phew. It tired me out. I'd often sneak away solo to the market which I prefer but it was pretty cute having all three girls with us that night. 

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Here are the ribs I made - I needed to boil them much longer to make them more tender. Another recipe I made that week was cashew chicken and it was a big hit with my siblings and parents. I tripled the recipe to feed those peeps. Both of my brothers actually said the dish was good. 

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This was a yummy cauliflower rice bowl I made using random items in my fridge. 

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These items are made on my 3rd weekend - Sat morning smoothie bowls and chicken with roasted veggies for lunch at the park. We had Harley's 1st birthday and to avoid more pizza, I brought my lunch bag filled with a yummy lunch. 

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Harley is one month older than Tayah and it's been so fun to have gone through my entire pregnancy with my friend Cinthia, and now raise our girls together. 

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Do I look like I'm standing more with Arlen or Ant in this picture? Haha. 

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For dinner I made bacon pasta with zoodles. And for dessert I stuffed dates with almond butter and coconut shavings. I store those in the freezer. 

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We went to a baby shower late Sat night (around 8pm) and I had some watermelon there as my snack. 

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Sunday after church, we had yet another party - Ollie's first birthday at the park. It was a breezy day and the food at the party was from El Pollo Inka and I sooo wanted to eat some. But, I had my ribs just before we went and took an apple and nectarine along with me. 

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Straight after the park we went to the mall to meet up with Ant's parents for dinner - for his Mom's birthday. They chose DIN TAI FUNG, only the best soup dumpling place around. But I was mentally prepared, and food prepared - I had brought one last serving of bacon zoodles with me to eat in the car (I was hungry at 4pm). 

They enjoyed their dinner and I was full, so didn't mind the temptations. I did have a coconut chocolate RX bar as my dessert. I never thought I'd be possible to pass up on Din Tai Fung, but I proved it can be done. 

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I can't end this post without commenting on the power of accountability. When you have friends who are counting on you to stick with the program, you do it. It makes it fun. Our chat room is so fun and is filled with our food pics, our hacks and our struggles. The ladies make me laugh and motivate me to keep going strong. 

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And here are my last pics from day 23. I have one more week to go!

Tuscan chicken spaghetti squash pasta. 

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And a mid afternoon snack during the kids swim class. 

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In closing of this LONG post, I am excited to be done next week. Because of bread. I miss eating bread. I will say, it has been a fantastic journey so far and I feel thinner (I lost 4 lbs so far), I have good energy and I'm getting creative with my meals. I haven't worked out as I feel this takes up too much of my energy and I am looking forward to getting back into weight lifting and bbg workouts. I plan on keeping some healthy habits like smoothies, zoodles, reaching for fruit and raw veggies as a snack. But I will most definitely return to peanut butter toast, frosted mini wheats, avocado sourdough toast, and pizza. It's all about moderation and lots of small GOOD choices that make all the difference. I like having choices and enjoying food. I'll post when I'm done! 

4th of July

We had a HOT but incredible 4th of July this year. It was our first one with 3 little girls and will always be memorable for that reason alone. My Mom got the girls matching flag outfits and they were excited to wear them. Every time we see a flag now, they shout out "there is an American flag!"

Becuase fireworks were cancelled this year in our city, and it allowed for us to opt to hit the freeway and drive an hour south to my brother-in-laws house in Mission Viejo. We knew it would be hot but that it would be fun to spend the day with the girls' cousins down there. 

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We arrived at noon and it was about 80 degrees. Good thing the girls were energized and ready to go with their matching sunglasses. Faye and LJ are 11 days apart (Len is older). 

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We parked at my SIL's house and walked .5 mile to the lake fair. Isla (6 yrs old) was smart and scootered there. 

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We looked through our old photos and realized that we had been to the fair back in 2012! This was back, before we were even married. I couldn't believe that we were returning six years later with three little daughters. 

I love this pic of Uncle Mike and Lenny holding hands. Also, this pic of the girls because I feel like the Moms are NEVER in any pics. 

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The first thing we did was get face painting. I loved this for so many reasons:

SHADE. QUICK PAINTING. ACTUAL GOOD PAINTED IMAGES. FREE. WASHABLE PAINT. 

A few weeks ago at LJ's preschool, she got her face painted and it took 10 minutes to wait and 30 min for a butterfly. THAT WAS TOO LONG. All that to say, I'm so glad this experience was better. 

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We were at peak heat by this time, around 87 degrees, but found the PERFECT spot to post up with our double strollers, in the SHADE. The backdrop was the stunning lake, so I was sure to get a family shot of us five. 

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A few adults stayed in the shade and the rest ventured out to play games with the kids. We bought over priced tickets and set out to have some fun. Being in the direct sun on the asphalt was like sweat-dripping-down-your-face and-neck level hot. Each kid got a small prize, and went on the bounce house and then we called it a day. 

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Before we headed out, we had lunch - the kiddos had fries, and the other peeps had chicken shwarma wraps from a Mediterranean booth nearby and I busted out my own lunch. I'm currently doing Whole 30, and this was day 10, so I brought my own lunch (and dinner) along with me in a cooler, to be prepared. My lunch was hamburger meat lettuce wraps with mustard, Frank's hot sauce and pickled onions. It was yummy and filling but hard to eat while sitting on the ground. 

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After we ate, we walked back to Mike and Sam's house to grab our things. That walk back was uphill and H O T. Phew! We got in our vans and drove 3 miles to her parent's house and jumped right into the pool. It was amazing and VERY refreshing. And how beautiful is Lizz's backyard?

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We had three levels of swimmers: Isla and Lenya who swam the entire time and were like fish in the water. Eden and Faye who were step dwellers with their floaties on, and had so much fun just hanging there, and then Tayah who went in for a dip, laughed and came out. 

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As I mentioned before, I also brought my own dinner to their house. This meal was pork chop, roasted cauliflower, Brussels sprouts and bell pepper with avocado on top. I knew I would be hungry after swimming, and the meal did not disappoint. No one seemd to mind that I brought my own food. (They had corn on the cob, bbq chicken and salad). 

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After dinner we hung out and watched the movie Coco. That helped us wait it out until fireworks at 9pm! The kiddos were super sleepy, but we pushed through. 

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We watched the first half of the movie at Lizz's house and the second half at Mike and Sam's house. Right around 8:30pm the kids were bathed up and very excited for watching fire works. They even chanted, "we're excited, we're excited!"

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At 9pm we went to their backyard, everyone covered their ears (except Junior) and went back inside. HA! Anyways, it wasn't exciting for the kids and they were so not into it. Maybe next year! We drove home and got back past 10:30pm. What a fun day!

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July 5th was my Dad's 64th birthday. And that wraps up our July 4th celebfrations!

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