Thursday, March 27, 2014

Mmmmmm, Smoothies!

It's here, it's here!! I am expecting several things in the mail right now and one arrived today. My Focus T25 workout DVDs was in my mailbox today. I don't know if you get as excited about good mail days as I do, but I loved getting things that I have ordered in my mailbox. Makes me feel like it's Christmas any day of the week.

In about 9 weeks, I will be heading to the Outerbanks in NC with my family. My sisters, are
S-K-I-N-N-Y! My older sister, Rachel, just ran her first marathon about 2 weeks ago, so she's been training like a beast! Therefore, she is super-skinny. My little sister, Deb, well she is just a tooth pick. If you know her, you know that she has always been teeny tiny. To top things off, my brother's fiance Kayla, is also thin. I absolutely refuse to be the chubby sister this year! So, for the second time in my life, I will start my getting skinny process by allowing Shaun T to kick my butt. It'll be well worth it!

So, in preparation for my beach vacation, I am also going to be eating a bit more lean and including lots of smoothies in my diet. I am still nursing sweet Brooklyn, so I still need extra calories for her, I won't be dieting necessarily, just making healthier choices.

 In honor of my plight, I have decided to post some of my favorite smoothie recipes!

Tropical Smoothie

1/2 cup coconut almond milk 
1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt
1 cup frozen pineapple chunks
1/2 banana
1 orange
1 lemon or lime
1 cup of spinach or kale
1 cup of ice

Another of my Vitamix favorites (but not on their site) is this one:

Frozen Strawberry Grape Juice

1 cup green grapes
1 cup red grapes
1 cup frozen, unsweetened strawberries
1/2 cup ice

and you can always add spinach or kale for extra benefits!

And when I am wanting something sweet, here is my go-to smoothie for a treat!

Finally, if you are in need of other recipes, here is a great guide to building your own! 

A few tips!
Stay away from adding fruit juices. 
I use coconut almond milk or water as my liquids of choice. 
Always use unsweetened fruit. 
Frozen is fine and when used, you may be able to omit ice cubes. 
Add greens to ANY recipe! (Trust me when I saw that you cannot even taste them!) 
Add Flax seed to any recipe.
Use light/sugar free Greek yogurt to boost protein.
Surprisingly, bananas are strong in smoothies, so most recipes I'd use half of one (unless you love the taste of banana. I don't)
Be creative. Use spices and herbs. 
Blend and Enjoy!!!

Did I mention that I have a smoothie board on Pinterest?! You should have known!! Follow me there for all my smoothie finds.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

"You have your hands full...."

In celebration of Spring's arrival, we are having a family movie night tonight where we will watch Frozen. Damien took Payton to see it while it was in theaters. I had absolutely zero interest in sitting in a theater for over an hour while 8 months pregnant, so I stayed home with Mal Mal. Damien brought it home for us on Tuesday, but we told Payton we had to wait until Thursday night to watch. She is beyond thrilled to see it again and I think she's even more excited for me to finally see it.

As we were discussing our plans to go to Target (oh how I love Target!) to get candy and popcorn, Payton said to me, "Mom, you're gonna crap outta your pants when you see this movie!" After she saw my look of astonishment, she continued, "What? I crapped outta my pants when I saw it." Not exactly sure that she understands what she is saying when she said this to me, but I couldn't help myself after the second part. I burst into laughter. Those words coming out of the mouth of my five year old.....sheesh! So, I learned today that I should not ever use the word crap in front of my children, unless I want them saying things like that. I also was reminded that I have very little self-control when it comes to things I think are funny, but I should be reprimanding for. How do you correct a kiddo after you've laughed at what they've said? Ah, one of the most important rules of Parenting 101, don't let them see you laugh. Oops!

So, after the baby girls woke up from nap, we loaded into the van and headed for Target. This is literally only my second Target trip with all three girls in tow. I have discovered that as long as everyone is fed and has a clean diaper/used bathroom, that I can make quick trips with the three of them. As we make our way to the back of the grocery section where the candy is, Mallori was in the seat of the cart, Brooklyn was in her carrier in the basket part, and Payton held on to the side. We stopped and looked at a few things on the way and then we found the candy. There was another guest (I know Target terminology from all Damien's years working for them) on the candy aisle. I saw her glance at me girls, then at me with a smile. Before she left the aisle, she looked at me and said, "You're doing a great job." I responded with "thank you" and she was off to finish her shopping.

After choosing our candy selections, we stopped to look at some clearance merchandise and continued for checkout. By this time, Payton had told me that she needed to potty. Seriously!? So, I took her to the family restroom and waited right outside with my cart and other girls. When she finished, we got in line and the lady from the candy aisle was one person ahead of us. She looks at Payton and says, "You are a good big sister. I saw you helping your Mommy." Payton gave her a bashful, "thank you."

I don't know this lady and it's likely our paths will never cross again, but what a refreshing encounter! I am so used to getting the pity looks and comments like, "you sure have your hands full!" Yes, I am aware that I have my hands full and I don't need you, random stranger, telling me this. My girls were all being quiet when this lady saw us, no one was melting down, we were just having a conversation about movie night candy. However, good behavior from my girls has not stopped those annoying "hands full" comments in the past.

Now, I know the people who make comments like those don't mean any harm, they are most likely even trying to be encouraging, but to a mom who is struggling to grocery shop, drop one child off at school or waiting in line at the post office, those are fighting words. In that moment, we want nothing more than to toss a drink in your face.

So, next time you see a mom out with her kids, tell her that she's doing a great job. Today, from that stranger, it meant the world to me.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Fiction or Non-fiction

Hello! I am seriously hating that I am taking almost a week between blog posts, but life has been crazy! Worked this past weekend at my part-time gig, Payton had her first soccer game (y'all, I died laughing! So cute and funny to watch kids run around or just stand, puzzled looking at the ball). Brooklyn has decided she will not be content in the evenings until 11:30 pm, unless she is being held. Love baby snuggles, but I'm also a huge fan of sleep! The other two don't care if their new baby sister has me up during the night, they will be ready for breakfast by 7:00 am, sometimes earlier. 

 I put dinner in the crockpot Saturday morning before I left to take Brooklyn to her 2 month check up. (She is a healthy 12 pounds 12 ounces and 24 inches long. All kinds of neck rolls and double chins. Perfectly squishy!) After her shots were administered, we loaded up and headed to the soccer field to watch Payton play. Then I left Damien with all 3 girls at the field to head to "work". (kudos to him for that! Because I woulda been like um, not happening!!) So, as I am driving home from my "getaway" on Saturday evening, I was thinking about how I was leaving my part-time job to go home to my full-time job. That's right, being a mom is a full-time job and it is the hardest job I have ever had. Fortunately, the rewards are pretty outstanding! For those mommies who have full-time jobs outside the home and come home to yet another full-time job, you AMAZE me!

So, we have a praise and worship CD that we received while visiting a church here in the St. Louis area that we listen to in the van quite regularly. They are all covers of very popular Christian songs that you'd hear on the radio. For a long time, The Happy Song was Payton's favorite on the CD, but more recently, she has been favoring Cannons (originally by Phil Wickham). I sometimes catch a glimpse of her in the rearview mirror belting out the words. She even sometimes closes her eyes. It is such a sweet, sweet sound to hear her sing about the love of Jesus! Yesterday on the way home from school, after Cannons had played, the next song came on. She was listening to the lyrics and the asked, "Mom, what does 'conquered the grave' mean?" I the proceeded to explain to her that conquer means to beat something, or to win and the reason the song is saying Jesus conquered the grave is because he didn't stay dead, he rose again, therefore, beating the grave or death. 

Oh, her little mind, still so pure. She then says to me, "Mom, I know why some people don't love Jesus and God. It's because they think the Bible is fiction, but we know that the Bible is non-fiction." If I do nothing else in this life, I want my girls to know that God loves them so much, that he sent his ONLY Son to die, that we can live forever with him. The Bible is full of stories that are so unreal, they might be hard to believe, but my little chatter-box of a 5 year old already knows that Book is indeed fact, not fiction. 

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

The One with Too Much to Talk About....

    Whew! I hate that it has been a week since my last post, but there are many good reasons behind it. First of all, last week I was literally in survival mode by Wednesday evening. Damien left on Monday morning to go to Dallas for the week. It was my first time with all three children, by myself, for longer than 24 hours. He was gone much more frequently in Montana, almost half of every month was spent traveling. We get to have him home much more here in MO, which is wonderful. Wednesday, I put the big girls in bed at 7:00 (their bed time is normally 7:30) because I just couldn't take it anymore! Needless to say, I was anxiously awaiting Damien's return home on Thursday like a kid waits for Christmas morning. What makes it even better, is that he came home with a caramel pecan covered apple from Rocky Mountain Candy Co. Mmmmm. 
     The weekend, for me, was pretty much non-existent. I work part-time (very part-time) for Clinique and will be helping out at a Dillard's counter here during their free gift with purchase (get yours while they last or thru March 28). My 3 favorite Clinique items right now are: Even Better Eyes Dark Circle Corrector. It is THE BEST eye cream if you are concerned with dark circles (take it from a mother of 3 who are 5 and under!). Repairwear Laser Focus Smoothes, Restores, Corrects. Look no further for a wrinkle cure! It's a laser treatment in a bottle. Results will not disappoint. Finally, Turnaround Overnight Radiance Moisturizer. Trust me when I say your skin will feel baby soft with this stuff! Also, it will appear brighter and more radiant. If you already have products that you love, just Shop now! You get to choose your choice of pink or coral polish and lipstick too. Coral lipstick is very light and pretty, for those who don't like a dark lipstick. The pink shade is deeper and brighter. Both are great choices and either polish will be fabulous on your tootsies for spring and summer! 
    And, that is what I spent my weekend doing! Telling all kinds of Clinique clients the benefits of Clinique products. I call it "work," but in actuality, it is my break from my "real job" of raising my girlies. It is wonderful to be able to get out of the house sans children and talk with other grown-ups about something I love and that I'm so passionate about. A Clinique friend of mine posted on her Facebook page today about how we only get one face. It's something I've also shouted at people (not literally shouted, but spoke passionately about) for years. It is so important to take care of your skin!!! You literally only get ONE FACE! And although I believe that Clinique is the best for skin, there are some other really great brands out there. Find one you like and take care of your skin.
     Off of my skin care soap box, and on to other important things. FOOD!. Yep, I have cooked up 2 fabulous dinners recently that I have been dying to share! Friday night was Damien's first night home for dinner all week and I decided to cook stuffed peppers. I have never made stuffed peppers before, but I found a Martha Stewart recipe that sounded delicious and the picture looked even more delicious. Ah, there they are.
The recipe calls for sweet Italian sausage, but I used spicy, because we like our food with a kick. I also didn't use any green bell peppers because, well, I don't like green bell peppers. And, instead of bread crumbs, I used Club Crackers. They were so good!

Last night, I stepped it up again and made some taco soup with guacamole grilled cheese sandwiches. I could quite literally eat a guacamole grilled cheese sandwich every day for the rest of my existence and be content. SO GOOD. I didn't take my own picture, but here is one for you to lust after.
I used the guacamole recipe linked in her site. I used an extra serrano pepper in mine (extra kick!). Also, she didn't add the tomato to the guac in the recipe for the grilled cheese, because she opted for tomato slices. Not only do I not really enjoy tomato slices on my sandwiches, I was also a little afraid it would make the bread soggy. So, I made it just like the recipe. I'm pretty sure these sandwiches will be in heaven for our enjoyment. 

If you love good food, like I do, follow my FOOD! board on Pinterest. The Grilled Cheese is actually on my Let's do lunch! board, so check it out as well. I delete anything I have tried that is not good, so anything there is either delicious or I haven't made it yet. Always feel free to ask me! 

Tonight I am making buffalo chicken lettuce wraps (I already made the home made ranch dressing and it's chilling in my fridge). If the buffalo chicken lettuce wrap link disappears, you will now they were no bueno. 

This morning, I also tried my hand at some protein breakfast cookies. I have always been quite skeptical of a "healthy cookie". I mean, kinda an oxymoron, right? But, it's nice to have a healthier grab and go option around here, so I made them. They are quite tasty and Mallori liked them too. (she basically likes anything edible and when she wants something you are eating, she will walk up to you with her bow-legs and say "biiiite". You will always share because she is so cute, you cannot resist). 

I did not use the protein powder (because all we have here is chocolate and I didn't think that would be so yummy). I also vetoed the butter extract and nuts. I like buts, but I think the oatmeal adds enough texture that I didn't feel they were needed. The protein powder and nuts would add more protein, so if you are wanting something with really high protein, I would add them. I did use semi-sweet mini chocolate chips. I think next time I will add a bit of cinnamon too though. She also says 20-30 minutes for cook time. I prefer chewy cookies, so mine were done in 20. I've already had two and a half (would've been 3, but I shared with my little cookie monster).

So, now that you are most likely starving, that is all I have for today. As always, I love to hear your thoughts about my thoughts!! ;)

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

A Slap in the Face

Caution: This blog post is not for fun or laughs, it is real and serious and from the heart. I'd love if you keep reading. If only one person needed this today, it will have been worth the pouring out of my heart.

So, last night as I was in bed, talking to God, I realized that I have not been spending enough time actually listening to God. So, this morning, after dropping Payton off at school, I came home, poured myself a big glass of "fat flush water" (see Monday's post) and grabbed my Jesus Calling and my Bible. 

I opened my book and today's words slapped me in the face. Hard. The first line was "MAKE FRIENDS WITH THE PROBLEMS IN YOUR LIFE." (p. 68). Now, everyone has problems or struggles. Some are big and some are small. Some are long-term and some may go away very quickly. I realize these things and hope that you do as well. 

I heard a sermon a while back and the pastor literally put to shame the phrase "God only gives you what you can handle". I'm sure everyone has been guilty of using this phrase once or a thousand times in their life. I know I have. The truth is, God may give you more than you can handle and when he does, he wants you to lean on HIM for the support you need to get through it. It isn't about us being able to handle it, it's about trusting our heavenly Father, because he is sovereign. He is God! My devotional book this morning further resonated this with me. God will use all things for his glory and for good, and he tells us that in his Word. Even the problems and the struggles, no matter how big or small.

As you know, I have a new baby at home. Well, I will in no way say that she is a problem, but I will let you in on a secret. (Please don't judge me.) When I found out in May of last year that I was pregnant with my sweet baby, I was DEVASTATED. I sat down, on the floor after the pee stick read "pregnant" and bawled. I was a mess. I was done having children, I had literally just stopped breast feeding my second child in March, I was working on getting my body back, in the process of moving to a new state (where I knew no one), enjoying a beach vacation with my family and POW! The bomb got dropped. I literally hate being pregnant. I'm sick for at least the first 20 weeks and two out of the three pregnancies, I had gestational diabetes. The pregnancy where "I didn't have the GD," I had a 10 pound baby. 

I struggled through this last pregnancy, badly struggled. I was freaking out about having a third child and was questioning God's sovereignty in it. Who am I to question Him? That question was constantly in my head. There was an overwhelming guilt that I was questioning God. There was also the guilt about not having the desire for this baby to be in our lives. There are people who cannot have children or have lost children and I am selfishly saying that this baby is not something I wanted. I'm sure for those desiring a child or who have lost one might want to slap me in the face right now. I remember going in for one of my prenatal appointments and my doctor listening to the heartbeat, she looked at me and said, "isn't that the greatest sound?" I was seriously thinking, "no". As I am writing this, the guilt is coming back and tears are filling up in my eyes, because God gave me this beautiful little baby in my belly, my Brooklyn Louise and I didn't want her. I wondered if when she was born and I held her in my arms for the first time, if I would feel. I prayed for the doubt to go away and for the love to come. Others were praying for me too.

Brooklyn was my first child who came on her own. I was induced with the other 2. I woke up the morning before my induction was scheduled at 4:30. My parents were flying in at noon that day to be here for her birth. Damien and I were discussing the things we needed to do that day when I felt a little gush. I went to the bathroom, and it wasn't much of anything, so I sat back down. Then I moved and there was another small gush. Hmmmm. I called the doctor at 8:00 and they told me to come in. I started having painful contractions at home. My friend's husband picked up my big girls around 9:00 and we were on our way to the hospital at 9:13 (because that's the time I posted on Facebook). Brooklyn arrived at 10:13 am. She does what she wants. I held her in my arms for the first time and I loved her

A couple days after she was born, I received a card in the mail from my Great Aunt Norma. She knew my struggles, my entire family did. Her words were so sweet and needed and they brought tears to my eyes. Enclosed were two cards with Scripture on them. One read, "As for God, His way is perfect.All the Lord's promises prove true." (Psalm 18:30) The other was, "Rejoice always; pray without ceasing; in everything give thanks; for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus." (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18). Talk about things I needed to read. What a blessing that was. 

My Jesus Calling book further explained that we are God's masterpiece. WOW! I am a masterpiece. The world may not see me as anything special. I may not be the best at anything or the prettiest, but my Creator, he thinks I am a masterpiece. Every problem or struggle works to shape us into who he wants us to be. Whatever my doubts were during my pregnancy, God still loves me and those things are part of me now, part of His masterpiece. 

Thanks for taking the time to read this. I hope that when you struggle or face problems, you will remember to turn to God. 

I will leave you with some pictures of my Brooklyn. My youngest baby girl, whom I love. 

If you need a new devotional book, you can order Jesus Calling here

Monday, March 3, 2014

Dear Monday, I don't hate you as much as I used to

Well, today school here was cancelled, AGAIN! Icy roads create unsafe conditions for children to be transported to school, I get it. On Mondays, I look forward to taking my beautiful, chatty Payton to school, because since Thursday of the previous week, she has been at home, with me, making my ears bleed. No break for me today!

Payton was an only child for 3 and a half years and she sometimes still has that only child mentality. You know, "I get what want, when I want, how I want". I understand not all single child families produce a complete brat, but it is much more reasonable to be at their beckon call when there is only one of them. So, not only does Paytie still have a smidge of only child syndrome, she is also extremely stubborn (like her Daddy), always has to be right (like her Daddy), she knows how to push my buttons (like her Daddy) and is a smart-a (like her Daddy). Okay, so there are some unfortunate qualities that she got from me as well. I too, am stubborn and I also know how to complain (which she got from me). Don't worry, you will most likely never hear me complain because I save it for my family. ;) In all honesty, the reason she and I butt heads so much is most likely because, she indeed, is too much like her mama.

Despite the unfortunate news, we were going to have a great day. I get to stay at home with my three sweet and precious girls! There is no rushing out of the house to get Payton to school and the four of us can hang out in our jammies all day long. Why should I complain? You're right, I shouldn't.

For the record, Payton was a complete angel today. She played with Mallori and they laughed so hard together. It warms my heart to watch them love on each other. I know from having 2 sisters of my own that they will be the best of friends one day.

So, after the girls had breakfast, I decided to make some "fat flush water". I just started working out last week (7 weeks after Brooklyn arrived) and I'm nursing, so my water intake needs to be up there. I have been doing okay with drinking a ton of H2O, but let's be real, the taste of water gets BORING! This is an alternative and it has some added bonuses of aiding in weight loss. It includes, cucumber, grapefruit, tangerine and mint. Kim Lyons (personal trainer) introduced this concoction on The Biggest Loser.
This is where you can find information on "fat flush water"

After making my water, I decided to stay in the kitchen to make some coffee cake muffins. Yes, counterintuitive with the water, but I wanted to bake something and I love a good muffin in the morning! I used a recipe I found on Pinterest (surprise!) and you won't here any complaints from me. Are you craving coffee cake yet? Check out the picture....
It is truly embarrassing how many of those things I ate today. So, I decided to get dressed in my work out gear and make the fact I gorged on muffins okay. I've also been doing Pinterest workout until I can convince my husband to buy me T25. We did Insanity after Mallori was born, but I don't have time for that with 3 kiddos, 2 of them under the age of 2...

I am thinking this regimen will work well for a little while at least. Maybe if I continue this and my fat flush water and lay off the muffins.....haha! I am finishing off my magnificent Monday posting on here and enjoying a nice glass of Cabernet. I will leave you with a picture of my beautiful princesses (the 2 that can stand up anyway).

Snow White and Aurora
(by the way, these are the best dress up dresses EVER! they aren't "itchy" and they won't fall apart in the wash. you can get them and other princesses here)

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Snow, snow, go away....

I love snow! I love the cold and every winter I get stupid giddy when there is snow in the forecast (and disappointed when there's not). I'll chalk it up to growing up in SC, where we could go through an entire  winter without seeing a single flurry. This winter, however, I am over the snow!! School has been cancelled several days and I need my oldest in school. When she's home, she talks nonstop. I'm not kidding. 
Today there was supposed to be ice and more snow, so we opted not to chance the roads for church (MODOT recommended to stay off roads). 
One of my most favorite things to do ever, is cook and bake. I love trying new recipes, especially for breakfast. This morning, I decided to make bacon pancake dippers that I found on Pinterest (I'm serious not sure how I ever lived without Pinterest!!) Oh my goodness, they were delicious!! 
If you like bacon and pancakes, try them. I cooked bacon the night before to cut down on grease so the batter would stick better.  Find the recipe here
 Left the syrup out on the counter and this happened. She never passes up an opportunity to make a mess!! 
For dinner, I decided to make white chicken chili. It was also delicious! I adapted my own recipe, so here it is.
White Chicken Chili
2-3 uncooked chicken breasts, cut into 1 inch cubes
1 medium onion, finely chopped
2 cans of white beans, drained
1 can of corn, drained
Packet of taco seasoning
14 oz chicken broth
4 oz can green chiles
8 oz cream cheese

Shredded cheese, sour cream, avocado and corn chips for toppings

1. Add chicken to crockpot, then add onion, beans and corn
2.  Mix taco seasoning, chicken broth and chiles together and pour into crockpot
3. Add block of cream cheese to the top
4. Cook on low for 3-4 hours, stirring in cream cheese after 30 minutes