Author Archives: Erica House

Our Experience with Baby-Led Weaning

September 7th, 2016 | Posted by Erica House in Life - (0 Comments)

Disclosure: This post was sponsored by ALDI through their partnership with POPSUGAR Select. While I was compensated to write a post about The Little Journey product line, all opinions are my own.

I will start off by sounding totally cliché – I can’t believe my son will be one next week! The last year has been a beautiful, sleep-deprived blur.

While I was pregnant, I read everything I could on all issues relating to raising a baby. Vaccinate or not? Baby wear? Cloth diaper? Baby-led weaning?

Deciding to do baby-led weaning was one of the best decisions we made in regards to our son. It has been so much fun watching him try new foods, and he eats like a champ now! He will literally eat whatever I put on his plate. Curried lentils, pasta with roasted garlic sauce, pesto egg muffins, steak and sweet potato fries, anything with banana … the kid can put some food back.

While I try to cook from scratch as much as possible for him, that’s not always possible. Like most new moms, I’m busy. I work 20+ hours from home, I teach local boot camp and yoga classes, I work out a few days a week myself, I try to do one ‘fun’ thing with baby every day (trip to the library, picnic at the park, etc.) and I try to still have some ‘me’ time to read, play games, or just relax.

I was excited when ALDI sent me a box full of fun baby products to try out – including some healthy snack foods that are perfect to throw in his diaper bag when we are headed out for the day. The products are part of their first full line of baby products, Little Journey.

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Aside from the convenience factor, I really, really like having things like the Veggie Little Munchers® around, as they are so much easier to clean up! Since baby feeds himself, it means at least half of the food ends up on the floor or in his hair. Any night we have pasta or Mexican it’s automatically a bath night.

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I’m slightly embarrassed to say I ended up eating the rest of these Little Munchers® myself. They are so good! They are a baked, whole grain corn snack, easy to chew and swallow. I’d buy them just to snack on. The strawberry Yogurt Bites were just as good (and made with real fruit and yogurt with no preservatives, live and active cultures). Poor baby didn’t get more than a few of those before Travis and I got our hands on them.

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While pregnant, I read that the more flavors and textures you can introduce to your child before the age of one, the better eaters they will be later on. So, I’ve tried to cover every type of ethnic cuisine possible, and usually grab one new fruit or veggie to try every week. Aside from our daily walks or picnics outside, I’d say cooking for him and watching him try new things is my favorite thing to do with him.

What was your baby’s favorite food at one year old?

Hiking at Alyeska: The Scariest Hike of My Life

September 7th, 2016 | Posted by Erica House in Life - (4 Comments)
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While in Anchorage for Labor Day weekend we decided to take a little side trip to Alyeska Ski Resort. The resort is about an hour outside of Anchorage and to get there you take Seward Highway. It’s the most scenic road I’ve ever been on and both times we have been to Anchorage it’s been one of the highlights of our trip.

When we got to Alyeska we took the tram up to the top of the mountain. The views were incredible!

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They had a small gift shop/museum and two restaurants. There were plenty of hiking trails and we took a short one up to the top of a nearby summit. It was only half a mile but an incredibly steep incline. We facetimed our families from the top and gave them a peek at the amazing scenery.

There wasn’t much else to do up at the top, but we weren’t ready to take the tram back down to the hotel. So, we decided to hike down. At the time it sounded like a great idea. On the way up the tram operator mentioned the hike was 2.2 miles and 2000 feet of elevation. Shortly after starting down I realized what an intense hike it was going to be.

This is me about one mile into the hike. You can see the hotel down below.
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I’m a fairly high anxiety person. I legit felt like one misstep and I’d start falling of the side of the mountain. It was the most beautiful hike I’d ever been on, and the most stressful.IMG_6860
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I have excessive arm swagger while hiking. IMG_6858

It is so surreal to think that we are in Alaska. It still doesn’t feel like it’s real. Living in Fairbanks doesn’t feel like ‘real Alaska.’ We don’t have views anywhere close to this. We have one hill. Literally. IMG_6787

There were a few small streams on the hike and patches of Fall colors.
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I was graceful AF during the steep parts. I really need to invest in real hiking shoes. I always just wear my running shoes and end up sliding all over the place. Even Travis slid a few times so it isn’t entirely my lack of hiking skills. IMG_6846

At one point my phone slipped out of my hand and my first thought was, “well I’m never seeing that phone again.” Thankfully it only rolled down a few feet and I was able to slide down and grab it. IMG_6853

The whole hike took about 90 minutes. Baby went through periods of saying “oh, wow” for ten minutes straight and napped for a while at the end. We saw a lot of other people hiking with their kids in backpacks.

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Once we got back to the resort we grabbed some snacks for the road and checked out the shopping. Travis said it was the nicest hotel he had ever been in. I looked at the room rates and they weren’t too bad. The hotel we stayed at in Anchorage was $120 a night and rooms at the resort started at $150 so we may plan another trip back in the Spring to try hiking up the trail next time. IMG_6807

What’s the scariest hike you’ve done?

Labor Day Weekend in Anchorage

September 6th, 2016 | Posted by Erica House in Life - (4 Comments)
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We are back from another whirlwind weekend in Anchorage! Little man is becoming quite the traveler with all these cross country flights and road trips. He does pretty well while traveling, but sleep is certainly a struggle when we are away from home. If anyone would like some baby travel tips let me know! I’m obviously not an expert but we’ve racked up enough miles with him that I’ve learned a few tricks along the way.

After leaving Fairbanks early Friday morning we arrived in Anchorage around 3 p.m. (after a quick stop at the Target in Wasilla.) Our favorite hotel is Springhill Suites at University Lake. The rooms are huge (a separate living area and two bathrooms) and the views are incredible. There is a small lake behind the property with a great trail. The hotel is on university property so it’s in a great part of town.

Travis is obsessed with fishing lately so he wanted to stop by Ship Creek observation point to see if we could watch any fisherman bringing their catch in. We might have just missed salmon season so we didn’t see anyone out, but baby loved putting his hand in the water.

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Travis brought his fishing rod so we found this great lake and trail system he could fish at while baby and I played.

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On Saturday we headed to Aleyksa ski resort. I’ll post a picture heavy recap of the epic hike we did tomorrow, but here’s a peek at what our breakfast looked like that day. The breakfast at the hotel is amazing (and this is in no way sponsored by the hotel – we just genuinely love it!)

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I always bring a small cooler full of food for the road, but we still eat out a lot while traveling. With baby I try to think of places that would have some healthy-ish options that he could feed himself with. Subway ended up being a great idea! They have kids meals, and he loved every bit of it.

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On the way back from Alyeska we stopped at a river on the side of the road for Travis to fish. The trail to the river was intense! It was so narrow we were crouching down trying to walk through the trees and bushes. Baby kept saying “wow” over and over. I’m so glad that’s one of the few words he knows.

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The little hike was worth it when we saw the river! Last time we were in Anchorage there was still snow all over the mountains (in May) so it was fun seeing it during a different season. The fall colors last about two weeks here before the snow comes so we had perfect timing.

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On Sunday we stopped by the Anchorage Museum to let baby burn of energy before getting back in the car for six hours. I read online that they had a great children’s area but I was blown away by how much they actually had there! We spent almost two hours just in the children’s area and baby had so much fun.

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There was a least a dozen hands on science exhibits, and this huge play area.

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This will be a stop every time we are back in Anchorage!

While I love visiting a ‘big city’ Anchorage is not without it’s problems. There is a huge homeless population there, and the crime rate is rapidly rising. There have been three double homicides within the last few months. In every case there is no known relationship between the victims, and they are always found in the early morning along a trail in a park. The police actually issued a statement a few days before we got to town urging residents to not go outside along at night. The FBI is now involved in trying to figure out what is going on.

On Friday night Travis was looking for a spot to fish and he pulled up at a creek entrance right behind a residential area. There were a few guys sitting in the grass by the river, who just looked totally suspect to me. I told Travis the place felt sketch as hell, but he told me I was being paranoid. He drove down and turned back to find a parking spot, and right next to the parking lot a woman pulled her pants and underwear down and just sat her bare butt in the grass. That was enough to keep us moving along!

The shopping is great in Anchorage (I stocked up on Bath & Body works candles and got a few items for my living room makeover) but next time we are planning to try out a new area in Alaska. We only have two more years left here, and so much more to explore!

10 Low Carb Snack Ideas for Fat Loss

September 2nd, 2016 | Posted by Erica House in Life - (0 Comments)
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This is a sponsored post from Silver Fern Brand.

Since discovering carb cycling six months ago I’ve been eating low carb one or two days a week to maximize fat loss. Previously, I cringed when I saw most low carb diets since they require you to eat very, very little carbs indefinitely.

Your body needs carbs! Carbs are good! By just throwing in two low carb days a week I’m able to maintain the 5 pound weight loss I experienced from six weeks of carb cycling that brought me back down to pre-pregnancy weight.

Thanks to finding a few vegetarian low carb snacks I love I truly look forward to low carb days.  Here are a few staples that I keep around to help make low carb days enjoyable!

  • Nuts: I seriously eat about two pounds of nuts a week. Cashews, pecans, peanuts … I don’t discriminate!
  • Nut butter: see above. I can eat ¼ of a jar of peanut butter in one sitting!
  • Cheese: Full fat, non-processed, cheese.
  • Pumpkin seeds: One of the few zero carb choices out there
  • Olives: I recently started eating olives again and can’t believe I haven’t been eating them more often! My son just tried black olives this week and he loves them.
  • Hard boiled eggs: I’ll sprinkle some pink salt and pepper on them and a few will keep me full for hours
  • Avocado: I’ll sprinkle some salt and pepper on this as well and spoon it out
  • Red pepper strips and hummus
  • Protein shakes
  • Zero sugar brownies: YES. This is real.

Low Carb Brownies

Many of the health coaches I network with have started talking about Silver Fern Brand products. I was excited to try them out as their ingredients are so clean and healthy.

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The German Chocolate Brownies have zero sugar and only 2 net carbs. Best of all – I ate two of them fresh out of the oven and literally felt so full I couldn’t eat any more even if I wanted to. They are packed with fiber and protein so they really fill you up and satisfy sweet cravings without the sugar spike (and crash) that you normally get from sweets.

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I also tried the Blueberry Muffins and, for the first time in my life, I may have liked muffins more than brownies. I’ve noticed a bit more energy this past week and I think it’s due to not having as much sugar since I’ve been getting my fix without actually having any!

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Silver Fern Brand also makes probiotics, and I have been taking these for a few weeks now. Probiotics are linked with everything from lowering anxiety to helping weight loss so I strongly recommend all of my personal training clients take some.

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With all of this delicious food to indulge in I look forward to low carb days now! All the nuts, peanut butter, and brownies a girl can eat? Sign me up.

What is your favorite low carb snack?

I Can’t Believe This is Happening Already …

August 29th, 2016 | Posted by Erica House in Life - (2 Comments)
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Well, I can’t believe these two things are happening already.

My son got his first birthday present this week, and Fall colors are starting to appear!

I wanted to get my son something fun to play on outside for his first birthday. I searched online and every store either charged $100 to ship it to Alaska, or wouldn’t ship it at all. For the last few weeks I’ve been stalking the local buy, sale, trade groups on Facebook for large outside toys. Since they are so hard to find up here anytime someone posted one they were snatched up immediately.

Finally, I scored! This set was only $60 and baby boy loves it!

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He’s already learned how to slide down the slide by himself. He even puts his hands up in the air as he goes down, and plops onto his butt on the grass at the end. It’s so freaking cute.

Hopefully he will be able to enjoy it for a while as the highs next week are already going to be in the low 50’s! The trees are starting to turn colors. This will be the first time I live anywhere that has an actual Fall. Everyone here says the Fall colors are beautiful, but only last for a week.
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The only thing that has sucked lately are the damn mosquitoes. They are everywhere. Everyone warned us about them before we moved up here, but they weren’t that bad all Summer. Then, when we got back from Ohio, they were 10x worse then they’d ever been. The moment we go outside they are swarming us. Alaska Mosquito

The locals say it’s not usually this bad, but because we had the second wettest Summer on record they are worse than usual. Thankfully they weren’t too  bad yesterday when we went to Creamer’s Field for their crane festival.
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The festival takes place every year in August as the sandhill cranes gather to start their migration South. They have a wingspan of six feet! They travel 350 miles a day, mate for live, and live an average of 20 years in the wild. At the peak of migration season you can see thousands at Creamers Field. Creamers Field2

I am completely obsessed with these gorgeous birch trees.
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We brought a picnic for little man and Travis ended up buying a BBQ lunch there. They had two violinists playing and one kept playing nursery songs for the baby as he was completely enthralled with her. He wouldn’t take his eyes off her and kept dancing to the music. Creamers Field3

It’s such a gorgeous time of year in Alaska, and I’m so glad we are able to get out and enjoy it! Next weekend we are going back to Anchorage for a few days. We’ll be doing some shopping, lots of eating, hiking and fishing. Emphasis on the eating.

How was your weekend? 

Vacation Photos!

August 23rd, 2016 | Posted by Erica House in Life - (2 Comments)
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Is there such a thing as a vacation hangover?

After a whirlwind five days it feels great to be back at home! Travis and I had a great time visiting his family in Dayton, Ohio. Aside from his Mom (who was able to come to the hospital in Alabama for our sons birth) it was the first time any of them had met little man. He did such a great job traveling, and adjusting to a four hour time difference.
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We had three flights each way totaling about 10 hours of flying there and 10 hours of flying back. We brought a few new interactive board books, downloaded some episodes of Daniel Tiger to our phones, and planned to nurse him as much as possible (he often naps after nursing.) He hardly cried at all, and only got fussy a few times on our seven hour flight from Dallas to Anchorage (I probably got just as fussy as he did.)

Travis wore this sweet wolf shirt that says “Alaska” on the bottom on both days of flying. IMG_6040

We stayed with his Dad and stepmom who have a gorgeous house and lots of animals. I can see where Travis gets his love of cats from!IMG_5547

They have two large dogs and three cats. Our son hasn’t been around a lot of dogs and he was pretty ambivalent toward them and seemed a little more interested in their oldest cat, Kitty.  IMG_5564

We arrived in town Wednesday at 6 p.m.. and went straight to get food. On Thursday we spent a few hours walking around the mall and Target. Our shopping is extremely limited in Fairbanks so we were looking forward to hitting up some shops that we don’t have access to here (which is – everything.)

They were having a sale at Build-a-Bear so we stopped in and made two for our son. A little Lebron James bear and a Ninja Turtle. I did the heart ceremony – lots of shaking, blowing and kissing the heart.
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That night we met up with some more family at Young’s Dairy Farm. That place is so stinking cute! They have a restaurant and ice cream shop, an area to pet goats and cows, and lots of rides for kids. IMG_5670

We took the kids (our son and his cousin) on this sweet barrel ride. It was rickety and felt like it would fall apart or explode any second. IMG_5644

Travis tried to feed our son to the goats … IMG_5613

and baby had his first taste of ice cream.

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On Friday we drove to Newport, Kentucky to visit the Aquarium. The city was adorable and made me miss living near a big city! I kept telling Travis that Dayton felt like a thriving metropolis compared to Fairbanks.

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I got to pet baby sharks and walk the shark bridge (lots of sharks swimming underneath.) It’s so fun now that our son is almost one he’s really starting to interact more with his environment and enjoy seeing new things. IMG_5799

He had so many firsts while we were in town! He had his first cookie at his Great Grandmas house. He devoured it. IMG_5838

While we were at his other Great Grandparents house he learned how to climb stairs by himself. That’s one first I could have done without! We have stairs at our house that he still doesn’t seem very interested in, but I think once he realizes they are there we will need to get a baby gate for the bottom of the stairs (we have one installed at the top already.)

We got lots of photos of everyone with the baby. My favorite was the four generation of guys (baby, Travis, his Dad and his Grandpa.) I pretty much love any photo of baby with his Great Grandpa.
IMG_5791After two days Travis told me, “I’m so glad to be here but I don’t think I could stay longer than three days.” Traveling is stressful! Especially with a baby. He did pretty well with the time difference but he still woke up a few times every night. Napping was hard too since we were always on the go. Still, I don’t think the trip could have gone any better.

Sitting at his Grandmas house I watched his Sister, her Daughter, his Mom and his Grandma all interact and couldn’t help but feel sad that I don’t get to have those experiences with my family. They see each other so often, and I’ll be lucky if my son gets to see my parents once a year. I also grew up on the opposite side of the country from all of my extended family and wished I had grown up surrounded with cousins to play with and cool Aunts I could talk to about boys.

At least my parents will be here in two weeks to celebrate baby’s first birthday!