Beach Body Fun.

Vacation 2015 is in the books.

And it’s going to look something like this:

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God bless. Can you hear the waves crashing? Can you feel the sun beating down. Someone, get me there tomorrow.

This year is going to be something else, I tell ya. The first year we did this it was just us Rossis. My sister and family, my family, my parents, and head Rossi herself – Grandma Lucy. The second time around we lost Grandma Lucy (she’s still alive, don’t worry), and we lost my sister (she’s still alive, too, but insisted on giving birth to Emma around the same time), so we decided to invite some Proebsting’s on our Rossi family vacation, and Kyle’s parents joined us. Two sets of grandparents for the win!

Now this year. This year is where it gets truly crazy. My sister is having no more babies so she is on board. Kyle’s parents had too much fun with us, so they are back on board. Rossi family vacation wouldn’t be right without Mr. and Mrs. Rossi, so they will be back, and of course the four of us are going. Leah doesn’t miss a beach opportunity.

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And then we added some fresh faces – My sister’s inlaws! Crazy time, you guys. THREE sets of grandparents to fight over 5 little girls.

I’m not sure how many extended families get along well enough to all go to the beach together and share a house, but I am feeling very grateful that our Rossi family vacation has evolved into a Rossi, Proebsting, Eisleben vacation!

But here’s the kicker.

Not only did we all commit to a beach house, the easy part. We have committed to a family fun beach body challenge. Now how many extended families do you know that share weight gains and losses with each other?? And I may or may not have told my sister’s inlaws that they aren’t allowed to eat this week.

Basically, this boils down to tracking % of weight and body fat lost (Kyle has a spreadsheet, don’t worry), for the next 4 months. We all put 10 bucks in the pot, and whoever loses the biggest % gets the pot. Fantastic, right? The best part is we’re all going about it in similar, yet different ways.

My sister is calorie counting and working out.

My mom is hitting the gym hard.

Kyle’s mom has a list of what she can and cannot eat in a week.

Kyle is braving the elements to get in extra cardio on top of regular exercise:

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My dad, well, my dad is testing out a different method:

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(Yes, dad, mom told on you).

And me?! Well I bought I bought a cookbook that changed my life (you know, as much as a cookbook can). Beach body challenge or not, I was sick of the way my kids were eating. I got really grossed out one night cutting up a chicken nugget from Wendy’s for Quinn, which started it all. It only got worse from there. But I decided to combine the two ideas and I don’t think I’ll ever look back.

First, here is my disclaimer: I am fully aware of the fact that I stay home. I do not have to juggle an outside job with all of this cooking. I am not trying to get all “pinterest mom” on you (I’ve never been on pinterest, but I know the type). I am not saying that I am raising better kids that you.

There. Now don’t roll your eyes. Because I’m only writing what I am because I have learned and observed some things in the past 9 days (only 9 days!) that have moved mountains around here. This is simply something our family is trying. And perhaps you’re in the rut we were and want out as well.

100 Days of Real Food. It’s hard to even know what real food is anymore with all of the knockoffs around here. When I got the cookbook, it was honestly overwhelming. I know quite a bit about what is real and what is not, what is organic and what is not, what is modified and what is not, but it’s very hard to take that knowledge and actually do something about it. To say, you know what, I have a three year old that loves jello, but I’m going to give her something new to love. Something that her body will love as well. Something that will not be a waste of food, but that will actually help her to grow – body and mind. But again, easier said than done.

But I knew what I wanted to change the most, and I started there. I do not need to eat organic. Perhaps I should, but for right now – I don’t care. I know it’s better, but there are more important (and less expensive) things for our family to start with.

Sugar. I knew it had to go. Like, be gone. I knew it stole my joy (yes, really), and I was terrified of what I knew it was doing to my kids. Graham crackers, granola bars, yogurt, popsicles, candy, cookies, pancakes, OMG – SUGAR. Just google the effects of sugar and you get scary results. I knew for a fact that it messed with my mood, so of course it was safe to assume it was messing with my kids. I got rid of everything with added sugar we had in the house. I bought honey and maple syrup in bulk (to use sparingly). And the MOODS – I am a different me, you guys. I honestly just feel happy. It’s quite refreshing. Kyle even said I seem more apt to just let things slide as opposed to snapping (which is wonderful news for all four of the kids around me). Leah does not have 17 emotional meltdowns in a day. The way the two of us can communicate now is truly worth every second I spend in the kitchen. Maybe it’s my brain not being clouded by sugar and getting irritated, or maybe it’s her brain not being clouded by sugar and freaking out – but either way – what a delightful, truly delightful, 9 days it has been. And the ENERGY – this morning I cleaned my base boards and doors. And I’m not even nesting. I have the energy to cook all of this food and still keep a level head with all of these kids. It’s something of a miracle. Not having sugar in the house has been so very sweet. (Every ounce of that pun was intended).

Fast food. Starting with the Wendy’s meal before this cookbook ever came into my life, I knew my days with fast food were coming to a close. It’s not food – I don’t know what it is – but whatever was in Quinn’s chicken that night has never been found in my chicken breasts at home, I know that. I could not, with a good conscious, keep taking them through the drive-thru. Eeek. So that one has not been a hard adjustment for me at all. It’s just understood that for the foreseeable future I will cook breakfast, lunch, and dinner every night.

There are a million more laws to live by in the book, but I am learning that it’s not all going to happen overnight, and to just work on what really needs to be fixed around here. Aside from virtually 0 amount of moodiness, Leah’s little palette is expanding by leaps and bounds. She has some serious texture issues, which make meat a real struggle. Fried chicken strip or herb grilled chicken – she’s 98% likely to gag. It’s just the meat. And I understand that about her, and I give her grace for it, but I also realize that cooking to her limited palette is only going to keep her palette limited. So for the past 9 nights I have made one meal at dinner. No more mom, dad, and Quinn food… and then Leah food. We have one meal, it has a meat, a vegetable, and a grain. And in the past two nights there has been no gagging. She eats without saying, “but I don’t wike chicken.” Because it’s no longer a statement that gets her very far. We make a smoothie every day, of which she gets to choose the color. She tells me the fruits that are that color and I dump them in. Today she chose green. She watched me put the spinach in and told me she didn’t like leaves, (love her), we filled it with other green fruits and she gulped it down and told me she loved it. She ate a carrot stick. I realize that to some of you (my sister) who have wonderful vegetable eaters a carrot stick is laughable – but with Leah a carrot stick is monumental. I don’t make a big deal out of trying a new food, I certainly don’t tell her that she will like it, or that it’s good. I simply give her something, she tries it and we go from there. If she doesn’t like it, I figure out how to change it to maybe make it better the next time. It’s not a one and done process. If she likes it, I make sure she gets it again very soon. And I make sure to tell her how happy I am that she tried it regardless.

Aside from the new energy and the healthy kids… it’s just been a really fun process. She loves picking the colors of the smoothies and then telling me which food is that color. Tomorrow is gonna be yellow, thank God, an easy one. She picked orange several days ago, put a blackberry in it and it turned purple and she thought it was the silliest thing. We learned yesterday that bagels get boiled before they bake:

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And this morning we got to enjoy all the hard work. (Bagels are WORK).

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She gets to choose a cookie cutter to help make her Egg in the Nest:

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(This was a heart, kind of a bust, but most are fun).

She learned that Kiwi’s aren’t nearly as scary on the inside as they are on the outside. She has learned that we can pretty much make for ourselves anything that can be bought in a store (and sans aluminum or other insane ingredients!), and that it’s way more fun anyways. So we will forge ahead, because honestly, moods and 0 energy is nothing I want to go back to.

Oh, and that challenge we’re doing – I’m in the lead, by a lot. And I’m baaaarely exercising. And I’m eating a lot of really good food that just so happens to work with my body instead of against it. So the proof is in the sugarless pudding! (Again with the puns).

(In case you’re wondering, yes, I’m aware that I didn’t mention Quinn in any of this. She is still here. But she has always eaten whatever I put in front of her and that has not changed).

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