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    Emily Malone

    culinary arts grad. nutrition facts lover. vegetarian chef. marathon runner. country music maniac. failed dog trainer. barre fanatic. loving mama.

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    EmilyBMalone@gmail.com

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    A Look Back.



Thoughts On Three.

Somewhere around Cullen’s first birthday, I remember the questions starting to roll in – when will you try for another?  I feel like society generally assumes that one kid will lead to another (although of course this is not always the case AND you should never ask people these types of questions!!).  And for whatever reason, we were ready to roll shortly after that, and we started trying for Graham.

It took 14 months for me to get pregnant with Cullen after we started trying, and with Graham it only took ONE.  Surprise!  Both our kids were conceived in January, and born in October – exactly two years apart.

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But after Graham was born, the conversation shifted a bit.  Now the questions are – will you have a third? – instead of the automatic assumption that more are on the way.  And two years later my answer remains – I don’t know!

When I was in the thick of it, I would have told you absolutely, for sure – we were done.  Two was all I could handle and it would be insanity to consider adding anyone else to the mix.  But of course, as the boys have gotten older and things have gotten easier, thoughts of that third little one have crept back in.  Here are some of the positives and potential negatives we’ve considered during all our family planning conversations:

Yes, we want another baby:

  • IT’S ANOTHER HUMAN BEING – can’t really argue with that.
  • I didn’t go into my second pregnancy expecting it to be the last one, and I honestly loved being pregnant, so I feel sad to not experience that again (although at SOME point, you do have to stop). 
  • I am one of three kids, and love the dynamic that three brings versus two (who I think tend to be more directly competitive).
  • The spacing between Graham and #3 would be three years (at least) at this point, which would make things a million times easier than they were the first time around.
  • By the time a #3 would be born, both my kids would be in drop-off preschool at least three mornings a week, which would provide nice breaks and quality time for all.
  • Casey is SO GOOD with babies – way better than me.  I love seeing the way he can soothe and sway with little ones – heart melting.

Nope, we are done:

  • We have two healthy, amazing kids, and they are more than enough.
  • Neither of us has any urge of “we need a girl” and that would be a silly reason to have a third kid anyway, since I feel quite certain it would be another boy.
  • Another child brings more financial consideration – we want to make sure we can provide things that are important to us – like travel, good schools, activities, etc. – for everyone. 
  • Our house will be cramped, and we really don’t want to move.  That said, it can be done, but the boys will have to share a (tiny) room.  And we’d probably have to move sooner than later as they get older/bigger. 
  • Selfishly, my body has been through a lot.  Eighteen months of pregnancy, plus 2.5 years of breastfeeding, and 70+ pounds total gained and lost.  I’ve worked so hard to get back into a fitness routine and build strength again, and I cringe thinking about starting over yet again.

Next month, I will turn 35 (!).  And while I know many people have kids later than that, for me this is the cutoff.  I have always said I’d be most comfortable being done having kids at 35, and so I feel like we are sort of in now or never mode.

The now part is sort of obvious, and for the never part – we are using hormone-free birth control as well as fertility tracking through Natural Cycles – but more on that in a minute!

Graham is getting bigger and is going through a major transition right now from toddler to BIG KID.  He recently moved from a crib into a bed and absolutely loves feeling like a big boy.  And in very exciting news – he is almost completely potty trained!  It has been (knock on wood) ridiculously easy, and he’s only had one accident since we put him in underwear.

I’ve taken apart the changing table and crib and packed them into storage.  We traveled all the way to Florida last week and it was a BREEZE!  Part of me feels SO READY for this next stage of life where kids are older and more self-sufficient and we can do so much more as a family.

Not to mention, once Graham joins Cullen at school I will have consistent time to myself for the first time in years.  I could go back to work!  I could do so much more for the blog!  And at the same time, I can also picture those solo morning hours being spent rocking a newborn, or looping Greenlake with a little one snuggling on me in an Ergo.  And I see pictures like this one and think GIVE ME ALL THE BABIES RIGHT NOW!

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Sigh.  Can you tell I am all over the place?  What it really comes down to is me needing to decide if I’m ready to push into this next stage of life with older kids, or if I want to start back over again with the baby stage.  I have heard that you shouldn’t plan your family based on how it feels in the thick of it with young ones – that you should imagine the family you want as adults!  And if that’s the case, then I want to be the Bravermans!

And so with ALL of this said, clearly we’ve had lots of family planning conversations over the years.  Backing up to when I we tried to get pregnant with Cullen – it took 14 months!  I wrote a long post all about it years ago, but the short version goes like this:  I took hormonal birth control for almost 10 years.  Once I decided to discontinue the pills, it took six months for my period to return at all.  Once it did, it took another six months for the cycles to even out and become regular.  I felt so unbelievably lucky to get pregnant when I finally did, and it was a real eye-opener to see how the hormone use had affected my previously-regular cycles.

After Cullen was born, I didn’t want to use any hormones for fear of what had happened before.  I breastfed (which typically reduces fertility) and we used back up methods, and my period returned right at the end of weaning.  We decided to try for Graham shortly after, and BOOM – I was pregnant on the first try.  Talk about a shocker!

And so having experienced both ends of the spectrum now, I wasn’t taking any chances either way.  I feel strongly about not using hormonal birth control again (ever), but also wasn’t willing to take my chances on getting pregnant.  So we have continued to use back up methods, as well as fertility tracking.

For the past few months, I’ve been using the Natural Cycles app.  It is “fertility tracking made easy” – and you can use as many or as few of the features that works best with your lifestyle and needs.

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By consistently measuring your basal temperature with a digital thermometer, the Natural Cycles algorithm is able to predict your ovulation dates with 99.9% accuracy.  From the Natural Cycles website:

Natural Cycles uses an intelligent algorithm that quickly learns your cycle and accurately detects and predicts ovulation, and thus, your fertile window. The algorithm takes into account temperature and LH testing (optional) – both quantitative fertility indicators. We do not take into consideration cervical mucus, which, despite being a good fertility indicator, can take a long time to gather, analyze and implement findings.

The setup is super easy, and it can actually be used as a pregnancy prevention tool, as well as a pregnancy planning tool!

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I have been using it to track my periods and ovulation dates, and from my own experience so far it’s been very accurate.

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For me personally, I haven’t been able to consistently use the temperature tracking feature, but I hope to use it at some point in the future.  In order to ensure accuracy, the basal temperature readings need to be done first thing in the morning before you get out of bed – when your body is most at rest.  Unfortunately, as this stage in my life, my body is never at rest – HA!  We have kids crawling in and our of our bed most nights, and we are often shuffling them back into their own beds at 4, 5, and 6am.  So temperature tracking would be too inconsistent for me to rely on alone for now.

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If you want to try Natural Cycles yourself, they have an awesome offer for Daily Garnish readers!  Get 40% off of a 1 year subscription + a free basal thermometer when you click the link here!

We’ll need to decide in the next few months if we want to stick with “tracking fertility” mode to “planning a pregnancy.”  And while you can plan all you want, we also know that you can never really PLAN to get pregnant.  Having been through it myself twice now, and watched my friends and family experience both blessings and heartbreak, I know now more than ever that new life is truly such a gift.

As you can see above, there are lots of things to consider!  But of course, it’s always exciting to imagine adding to the family.  I’d love to hear some thoughts from you guys!

For those who have two kids – what do you consider when thinking about a third?  Or are you “done?”  And if you feel comfortable sharing, I’d love to hear from others who have chosen hormone-free birth control options like this!

This post is sponsored by Natural Cycles.  As always, all thoughts an opinions are my own.  Thank you for supporting Daily Garnish!



Foodie Baby: 48 Hours of Meals

I’ve had a lot of people ask for more posts about daily meals, and what the boys are eating at their respective ages (17 months, and 3.5 years <— how did that happen??).  I’ve done a handful of these types of posts before, but the boys were much younger then.  You can check out the rest of the Foodie Baby series here:

This time, rather than big lists or meal ideas, I thought I’d do something much simpler.  I took a pictures of everything the boys ate from sun up until bedtime.  Of course no two days are the same, so I did two days in a row just to show a bit of variety. 

Here’s a look at what they are eating these days:

DAY ONE

Breakfast – the boys are up anytime between 6 and 7am, but we are usually down the steps around 7:15.  Graham is begging for food immediately, so I give him a banana to tide him over while I make the real breakfast. 

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Cullen works on a puzzle at the table until breakfast is ready.  He asks for a banana and then doesn’t touch it. 

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Graham inhales the banana in about seven seconds, so he moves onto pomegranate seeds and (hemp) milk while I continue to cook. 

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Daniel Tiger songs play from the iPad.  “Mommy songs” are always rejected, unless it is Taylor Swift. 

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Breakfast is ready!  Today is an eggs and toast morning, which is always the least popular option (although it is mommy’s favorite).  Cullen begs for oatmeal every single day, but I can only take so much.  This is my plate – toast with coconut oil, scrambled eggs, Field Roast breakfast sausages, and delicious hot coffee that was waiting for me when I got downstairs (courtesy of Casey!). 

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I always buy Silver Hills bread – it’s my favorite in both flavor and softness, and it has awesome nutritional stats.  It’s all sprouted bread and is much higher in protein than most others.  Also a Canadian company, so local-ish to us.

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Cullen would live on carbs if I let him, so the toast is definitely the highlight of this meal.  He’ll eat the Field Roast too, but the eggs have to be bribed (he can watch one show after breakfast while I get dressed). 

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Graham inhales everything and then wipes his greasy, eggy hands all over his hair.  Then he screams while being wiped down and cleaned up. 

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Lunch – we are always out in the mornings for various things, so depending on what that is we sometimes have lunch on the go.  But I prefer to eat at home when it’s feasible, because the kids tend to eat much better when we do.  We use these Re-Play dishes almost exclusively.  The kids like them and I love how durable and easy to clean they are. 

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Lunch is typically thrown together in 30 seconds as we’ve just walked in the door and I’m rushing to get them fed before naptime.  Today’s lunch was a mix of raw veggies – tomatoes and cucumber – and a tortilla with spinach and smashed avocado.  Cullen’s plate always has to be red or green.

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And Graham still gets his tomatoes sliced.  Both boys love cucumbers, but Graham hates tomatoes.  I still try anyway.  I’m hoping he comes around by summer gardening season, when – if all goes well – we’ll have more tomatoes than we know what to do with!

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Graham goes down for nap and Cullen has “quiet time” in his room.  Afterward they are starving for snacks.

Snack – Both kids get their own dish of cashews and raisins in the playroom after they wake up. 

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Graham still seems hungry (throwing his body at the refrigerator) so he gets a cheese stick while I prep for dinner.  I love the way he says “chuussse!” – cutest thing ever!

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Dinner – throughout the week we do a mix of eating with the kids versus waiting and eating alone after bedtime.  This particular week, we ate most meals all together.   This was a version of what we call “salsa bowls.”

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The boys don’t like their food all mixed up yet, so the compartmentalized plates are great for now.  But they don’t like having any empty spaces so I always have to make sure there is enough to divide into at least three parts.  This was one big scoop of brown rice with avocado and shredded cheese, a mixture of onions/mushrooms/black beans, and roasted asparagus. 

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This was the adult version of the meal – a giant bowl of rice, beans, and veggies topped with avocado and a zillion different salsas.  Yummmm.

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So that was day one, and I think it was a pretty typical look at how we eat throughout the day.  Here is the following day, just to show a bit of variety!

DAY TWO

Breakfast – Oatmeal, as promised.  I make the oatmeal the same way every morning – rolled oats cooked in half water/half almond milk, and chia seeds, raisins, sliced almonds, hemp seeds, and ground flax mixed in.  Each bowl is then topped with some sort of nut butter – we rotate through cashew, almond, and sunbutter.

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Cullen is in heaven and eats an alarming amount.  He finishes his bowl, anything left in the pot, and then forces me to give up about half of my bowl toward the end. 

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I have nothing against oatmeal but I am so sick and tired of it by now.  We even ate it for Cullen’s birthday dinner last year!  Ridiculous.

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That said, I absolutely love breakfast.  Once both the kids have their food they are so happy and full of excitement for the day.  I have hot coffee and I love sitting with them and singing to music and not rushing around. 

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Lunch – on this particular day, we went to a big indoor sandbox in the morning.  Both kids had a small snack while we were there (Graham had a pouch and then he and Cullen shared hummus and crackers).  Graham fell asleep on the car ride home and then went straight from the carseat to the crib, so he missed lunch.  This happens 50% of the time, so I always make sure to get a little something in his belly before we head home. 

Cullen was hungry for a real lunch though, so he had half a can of lentil vegetable soup and some crackers for dipping.  He ate the whole bowl and asked for more, and then actually took a rare nap himself. 

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Graham woke up absolutely ravenous, as expected, so he snacked on milk, cashews, and raisins after he woke up.  I dragged his high chair into the kitchen and he snacked while I prepped dinner.  And as you can tell, it was a matching tie dye day – Cullen’s request!

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When Cullen woke up, he joined us for some snacks. 

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Dinner – this was one of the last meals we ate before our California trip, so I was doing my best to use up fresh things in our fridge.  We had a combo of roasted green beans, roasted portabella slices, and tempeh with Island Soyaki marinade (from Trader Joe’s). 

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Pretty sure Cullen’s face says it all – not impressed.  He ate the green beans and about half the tempeh, and I bargained for those so that he could have a bowl of “dessert” – which was frozen cherries (his favorite). 

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Graham is picky too but is usually more willing to at least TRY something.  He’s also big on chewing something up and then spitting it right back out, rather than just rejecting on sight.  I’m not sure which is more frustrating!

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And here was the adult version of that meal – Casey and I ate all of the rest of it! 

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So that’s it – 48 hours of meals for the little ones.  They probably snuck some bites of things here and there that I missed, but overall this is the big picture.  The only thing we didn’t eat during these two days that we usually do is a smoothie, which is either at breakfast or for afternoon snack. 

What are your kids eating and loving these days?

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