Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Faith/Food/Fitness: 31 Day Journey (You’re Invited!)

Hi sweet ladies!!

So, most of you know this is pretty much my heart. Following Jesus. Loving my family. Taking care of my home. And fitness + food + a healthy lifestyle. I LOVE to teach ladies some of what my mentors have taught me and some of what I’ve learned through the years.  I have it on my “My 75” board to find someone to mentor, and I still plan to do that, but I really love this platform of being able to do this with multiple ladies at one time! There is power in numbers, right? I am so excited that we are going to go through this book together (short chapters so it’s not too overwhelming) for a study of Proverbs 31 with the goal of helping us “do life better” in the areas that matter most.

We have LOTS of other fun things planned & a topical calendar where we’ll share healthy lifestyle tips, our favorite books, some challenges, meal prep tips, etc. over these 31 days…but most importantly, our goal is to grow in our faith as we study the Word of God and our specific calling as ladies.

We’ll have daily live videos and share resources in our FB group JUST for this group, and you’ll get to hear from me and these two beauties whom I greatly respect and admire.

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Here’s a link to the FB group: Faith-Food-Fitness {October 2017}

(You can feel free to invite your friends to join you too. Just request to join & we’ll get ya added.)

I know life can be overwhelming. I know the enemy wants us to feel discouraged, defeated, & isolated. But it doesn’t have to be that way! I believe John 10:10 and Ephesians 3:20…that God wants us to have an abundant life! And that can only come through keeping our priorities in order. So we hope to help navigate some of that. (Not that we have it all figured out, but we are each going to share in our areas of strength.)

We’d love for you to join us!No automatic alt text available.

It may or may not be for you, but I wanted to invite you in case you’ve been looking for some encouragement and a specific “plan” to help you become more disciplined in your faith walk.

Looking forward to seeing the fruits!!

Beau Update: 6 Months!

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Weight/Height: Beau weighed 15 lbs & 15 oz and was 27” at his 6 month checkup. Dr. G told me to think about introducing cereal for some iron and to put some weight on him. (He is double his birth weight though & growing well on his curve though.)

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Health: He has sensitive skin like his brothers and I feel like he always has some little rash somewhere. Right now it’s under his neck.

He’s cutting his first tooth! His front two bottom teeth are both budding up and the right one has officially broken through (as of 9/1).

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We give liquid vit D drops every day (that I remember).

Grateful for our healthy, growing boy!

Sleep: Whew! We had a doozie of a couple of weeks….thankful to be over that hump. Still waking up during the night (out of habit- I know it’s “time”) but he will give me a solid 5-6 hours and is taking an awesome morning nap! He’s a tummy sleeper, still using sleep sack, and we have a fan/white noise/air purifier blowing to drown out noise. Pro: Blocks out the big bros. Con: now we are used to sleeping with it and it’s tough to sleep without that noise (like when we travel). He’s still in our room…mostly because we are still renting and it’s not our normal living situation.

Special thanks to NaeNae for holding our sweet boy for us while I took the big boys swimming with friends.

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Stayed awake our whole ride to the mountains, then fell asleep as soon as we pulled into town! #gofigure

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What Beau is up to: Big boy is officially CRAWLING! He can scoot all over the place so we really have to watch him now & be careful what big bros leave out so he doesn’t put tiny treasures in his mouth. He is so active and always on the move! He can also push himself almost into a sitting up position from being on his tummy!!

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His new things is to rub his hands together- Jase says he’s doing a magic trick. It’s so cute!

Also learning to eat! We started BLW a few weeks ago (right after he turned 6 months). So far he has had bananas, apples, broccoli, green beans, squash, zuchinni, avocado, sweet potatoes, chicken, hamburger meat, peaches, bread w/peanut butter, eggs, and steak. He’s doing really well! We don’t introduce more than one new food at a time to make sure he doesn’t have an allergy. I forgot how nerve wrecking it can be in the beginning. This post was a helpful refresher:

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I also have to remember to check his mouth to make sure he’s not squirreling away food. I’ve caught him 3 times with something in his cheeks or the roof of his mouth.

He LOVES to splash in the bathtub!

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I’m also pretty sure he is waving and saying “dada.” (Dad- 2, Mom- 1.)

I still wear him when we’re out and about. I wish I had my carriers that don’t kill my back now that he’s getting so big (they’re packed up somewhere in storage), but grateful to my friend Renee for letting me borrow hers!

Sweet boy LOVVVVES all of his family!

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Nursing: Going great! He definitely has a favorite side, but I still think he is getting plenty. I only pump when we need a bottle for something. We have a few events coming up so I need to start storing a little more.

Post-Partum: I FINALLY found a natural deoderant to keep up with my weird post-partum sweat. (I’ve always been a sweater, but it never was really smelly until after this pregnancy.Gross!) #gonative

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I’m still about 5 lbs away from pre-preg weight, but my clothes fit so that’s what I care about most. And I feel like I am physically in really good shape strength and endurance wise.

I’m excited to be in a church where our faith is really being challenged and stretched, and also looking forward to kicking back up BSF. Love the consistency and accountability of being in the Word.

SO READY to find a house & had a little pity party about it a couple days this week (mostly questioning/regretting), but overall I know we are beyond BLESSED and I just need to focus on our many, many blessings.

Big Brothers Jase & Kade: The boys are seriously SO sweet with baby Beau! I love, love, love watching them together! They love to hold him (and ask to) and talk to him in their cute little baby voices. (It’s like they have their own little language.) Jase is very protective of him (when he’s eating he’ll tell people not to bother him because he might get distracted and get choked) and Kade is so gentle with him too. Beau thinks they are both hilarious! Kade still likes for me to hold him too, so sometimes I’ll hold them both. Full hands = full heart.

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Thoughts: Going from 2-3 has been the biggest transition for us so far. It hasn’t been “hard,” really, but it has been a different kind of work figuring out logistics. Who sleeps where on vacation? Who puts who to bed? Who goes down first? What car seats go where? Who do I strap in first? Where do I put the baby while I’m changing Kade’s diaper when we are out and about? Just little things. But goodness gracious, we already can’t imagine life without our Baby Beau!! He has the sweetest, gummiest smile and most precious little voice (that he just found). He is cuddly and loving and just flat out makes me happy. I am so grateful he is a part of this family and I am loving watching him grow!!

Friday, September 1, 2017

Mixing It Up in the Kitchen ( 3 Clean Eating Recipes)

1. Veggie Lasagna Rollups:

These are an old fave around here. I don’t make it that often…but all of the boys love it! I make some trade outs from the traditional recipe in the link so it’s a little cleaner/healthier. Still just as delicious though, and you can sneak all kinds of veggies in!

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Ingredients:

  • brown rice lasagna pasta
  • 16 oz organic cottage cheese
  • 10 oz frozen spinach
  • 5-6 oz frozen kale
  • 1 1/2 diced squash & zucchini
  • 1/2 c mushrooms
  • pasta sauce
  • 2 c mozzarella
  • 1/4 c Parmesan cheese
  • salt & pepper
  • 2 eggs
  • Italian seasoning
  • (It’s healthier if you buy the cheese in block form and shred it yourself. You really want to try to eat organic dairy & veggies from the dirty dozen list organic when possible. Our grocery store didn’t have what I was looking for this time, so I used mostly the GoVeggie “cheese” and just sprinkled a little of the reg moz on top. Add in whatever veggies your family likes! I think carrots, green peppers, mushrooms, and onions would be delish too!Jonathan does NOT like onions or chunky tomatoes, so I leave them out & try to buy sauce that isn’t super chunky.)

Directions: Boil lasagna noodles according to directions on the box. Rinse, drain, dry, lay flat. In the meantime, combine 16 oz cottage cheese, 1 c of mozzarella, veggies (thawed & diced if needed), salt, pepper, Italian seasoning & stir together. Cover 13x9 pan with pasta sauce. Roll mixture individually into lasagna noodles and fold up into a rollup. Place with seam down into the pan. Cover each rollup with sauce and sprinkle with mozzarella and Parmesan cheese. (I can usually fit 9-10 rollups in one pan.)  Bake covered on 375 for 25 min, uncovered for 5. Great leftovers too!

2. Crockpot Thai Peanut Chicken Lettuce Wraps:

This is such an easy peasy recipe. Awesome for a busy night because you can just toss it all in the crockpot & you’re ready to go! I added brown rice/quinoa mix too. I ate mine in lettuce wraps, but I think the boys would have preferred noodles.

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Ingredients:

  • 2 lbs boneless skinless chicken breasts
  • 1 small red, orange, & yellow pepper sliced
  • 1 white onion (we leave this out)
  • 1/2 c chunky peanut butter
  • 1 tbsp lime juice
  • 1/2 c bone broth (TONS of benefits!)
  • 1/4 c coconut aminos (or Bragg’s liquid aminos- both are healthy soy sauce alternatives)
  • 2 tbsp of honey (Monuka honey has tons of benefits too!)
    2 Tablespoons of honey
  • 1/4 c crushed peanuts for topping
  • large butter lettuce leaves for lettuce wraps
  • sprouted grain brown rice (quinoa or noodles would work too)
  • optional: cilantro as a topping (I think I am the only person I know who does NOT like cilantro!)

Directions: Place sliced peppers at the bottom of the crockpot with chicken on top. In a bowl, mix together peanut butter, lime juice, chicken broth, soy sauce, and honey. Pour sauce over chicken. Cook for 3-4 hours on HIGH or 6 hrs on LOW.  When 15 minutes remain of cooking time, shred chicken with a fork. Cover and continue cooking for the remainder of the time.  Remove from crockpot and serve with brown rice, noodles, or quinoa in lettuce wraps! Top with peanuts & cilantro if you want. (I bet a little bit of fresh grated ginger would go great with this too!)

3. Crack Slaw: I’m going to have to change the name of this one because I cannot stand calling it this, but this is the recipe’s name if you search for it.

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Ingredients:

  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 2 tbsp sesame seed oil
  • 1 lb grassfed lean ground beef
  • 10 oz. cole slaw salad mix
  • 1 tbsp sriracha
  • 2 tbsp coconut aminos or Bragg’s liquid aminos
  • 1 tsp vinegar (I used apple cider vinegar)
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp pink Himalayan sea salt
  • 1 tsp sesame seeds
  • 1 stalk green onion

Directions: Heat your sesame seed oil in a large wok and crush 2 garlic cloves into it. Cook until fragrant. Add in a pound of ground beef and break up with a wooden spoon. Once your ground beef is browned, about 5-10 minutes, add in your slaw salad mix and toss to combine. Add in sriracha (I waited on this till after because I didn’t know if it would be too hot for the boys), liquid aminos, and vinegar & toss. Let this cook for about 5 minutes for the slaw mix to wilt. Season with salt, pepper and sesame seeds & serve with a sprinkle of green onion!

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Do you use your college degree?

I was driving the other day and thinking about all of the people I personally know who do not use their college degree. (Myself included, x 3.) I decided to post on Facebook and ask friends to chime in if they do not currently use their degree and what they do instead. There were over 100 comments of friends who don’t use their degrees, but have some REALLY cool & interesting gigs! All kinds of things- photographers, event planners, newborn sleep consultants, personal trainers, stay at home moms, and of course a few AdvoCare distributors. I loved reading what everyone does! Many of them are doing what they LOVE, and many of them are very successful in their endeavors.

I taught a “career exploration” class my final two years of teaching, and the standards of the curriculum pushed for a college bound pathway. I made sure to focus equally on technical school, vocational training, and especially entrepreneurship. I am definitely not against further education by any means (and am ALL FOR being a lifelong learner), but based on the response of that post & just thinking about all of the people I know, I think there’s a trend in society that needs to change. I know that everyone is not cut out for the same cookie cutter pathway that includes a 4 year (or maybe 5 year if you have a little too much fun) degree.

NO one should feel lesser than because they chose not to pursue a college education. It’s unfortunate too, because I feel like so many young adults just go that route because it seems like it’s what is expected of them. I mean, what else do you do?? (Heaven forbid them go straight into the workforce, or find a mentor in an area they’re passionate about, or start their own business, or go into ministry, or get married and start a family.)

Can you even imagine the MILLIONS of dollars spent on degrees and diplomas…the student loan debt still being paid on…for titles and positions people aren’t even serving in??  Shew! I bet everyone not using their degree would LOVE to have that money back, don’t you? (There was probably close to a million dollars for degrees just from the folks on that FB post of mine alone!)

I think about people like mine and Jonathan’s dads, who are both very successful business owners and entrepreneurs in the construction industry. Both of them probably started working in their family businesses to learn their trade before they were even ten years old. Neither went to college. Both were running their own businesses and supporting a family before the age of 25. And both have worked their tail off, yet still had the time freedom and financial freedom to provide extremely well for their families. Jonathan has also always had an entrepreneurial spirit, selling things on ebay, selling wheels and tires, helping his dad in his business, and eventually opening his own cabinet shop with a partner.

I think about the young ladies I taught in middle school and Sunday school. When I see them after graduation and ask what they want to do, I would say at least 8/10 of them have no idea or a couple of (totally unrelated) options they’re considering just because they seem like “good jobs.” I think about everyone I know (again, myself included) who changes majors. (Ladies especially seem to do this more often than guys.) Every once in a while I run into someone who knows exactly what they want to do & they are super passionate about it, but that is very rare. At least in my experience anyway. I wonder if some of them really just want to get married and have a family, but feel that is unacceptable so they just try to make themselves fit into some path that isn’t even truly their heart’s desire.

I think about all of the women I know who literally bawl their eyes out when they have to take their kids to daycare & desperately want to be home, but they feel like they have to work to help make ends meet(& especially to pay back their loans). Or the women who really just want to be a mom & wife, but feel like that’s “not good enough” so they pursue a career just because. Or the women who put off having babies to advance their career and education…or wait till finances are just right…and miss out on years of the blessings of babies. (Especially while you’re young & have lots of energy & bounce right back physically!) The Bible says “Children are a heritage from the Lord, offspring a reward from him.” {And if you have kiddos, you know what a BLESSING they are!} Why in the world do we live in a society that tells us to “wait, wait, wait” when it comes to what God tells us are gifts and blessings? (I fell into the same trap. Here’s an old post I wrote about it called Attention Young Ladies: What I Wish Someone Had Told Me.)

I think about all of the young couples who enter into marriage with tons of student loan debt and begin life together already in a deficit. It’s hard to get ahead when you’re drowning in debt, and lots of times the strain of finances is one of the number one arguments in marriage. Actually, the last thing I read on the issue said it’s the #1 cause of divorce.

It’s not that I regret going to college.  I have great memories, met some lifetime friends, and it led me to the incredible man I get to call my husband. I learned lots of valuable life lessons and some independence I don’t think I would have gained if I had stayed home for those 4 years. (Now my Master’s and Specialist’s degrees…that’s a different story! Thankfully I didn’t have to take out loans for those, but I’d sure still like to have that $25,000 in our savings account!)

But, I do think we need to help our children think through some things before shipping them off to a 4 year school and hoping they figure it out. There are definitely some things we want to do differently with our boys than what I see is the general way of life for most kids now.

We want to… Encourage entrepreneurship. Teach them a trade and skill. Encourage LIFE education more than textbook education. (Things like tax planning, investing, multiple streams of income, residual income, tithing, giving generously, living beneath means, trusting the Lord to provide, being a good steward of what you’ve been given, going against the grain, beginning with the end in mind, having a vision for life and making choices that line up with that while working towards it, working hard as if working for the Lord, talking about time freedom and financial freedom, etc.)

And if we are ever blessed with girls, they will know that being a wife and mom is an incredibly high calling. It is enough, no matter what society says. In fact, I personally believe some of the greatest work you’ll ever do is in the walls of your own home.

I know that I am the most fulfilled I have ever been, in any of my jobs (pitching coach, assistant in hair salon, after school program leader, Jazzercise instructor, middle school teacher, yearbook advisor, camp counselor, daycare teacher, secretary, back-up photographer, babysitter, house cleaner)doing EXACTLY what I am doing right now. And there are no degrees required.

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Anyway, I just felt like that’s a message worth sharing.

Yes, we need some people to go to school. I am so grateful for the folks who make our world go round & use the knowledge and experience they gained in college. But, it’s not for everyone. And that’s okay. Personally, I think our young men need a little more “life training” and a little less schooling anyway. And our young ladies need to prayerfully consider if they want to be a “keeper at home” (Titus 2) someday and if it’s really worth investing years of time and money when you really know, deep down, (like I always did) that you want to marry your best friend and raise lots of babies.

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SEEK the Lord & his will for your life. Trust Him to provide. In case you’ve been questioning it, hear me loud and clear. It’s okay to go against the grain…

Sunday, August 27, 2017

Butler Academy: The Start of our Homeschool Journey

We (and by “we” I mean I) decided several years ago we were going to homeschool our kiddos. I feel like it has become increasingly more popular and more widely accepted,  but I do know there are still some misconceptions & negative connotations about it. To be completely honest, Jonathan wasn’t even fully on board in the beginning & was pretty hesitant to tell anyone when Jase was little. Thankfully he said he would support what I wanted in this particular area (since I’d be the one doing most of it) and it was never a fight. He just said he really enjoyed school and didn’t want our boys to miss out on anything. I respect that and agreed we could always reconsider after middle school if we felt led. (But for the record, over time he has come around and now is fully on board with us homeschooling. He even proudly tells people he’s the principal and PE teacher of Butler Academy. Ha!)

{I’ve had a few people ask me how I came to the decision to homeschool, so I’d be happy to share that with you in an email if you’re struggling with the decision.}

Now, I wish I could say the calling came without any reservations. Everyone assumes that because I have (a few- sigh!) degrees in education, this will be easy peasy. But it still feels very overwhelming! Homeschooling your own children is not at all like teaching in a public education setting. But, I know with His grace & lots of prayer, we’ll survive. Ha!

Jase just turned 4 years old in May, and pretty much everyone around us is starting their kiddos in pre-K. I saw everyone posting back to school pics & started to feel like “uh oh! we’re behind!” Once again, a great reminder that other people (and society as a whole) should never be our standard & I can’t fall into the comparison trap. God has equipped us with the wisdom to know what our children need & I believe He will fill in the gaps if we do our best to honor him in bringing them up. Thankfully several of my closest friends are also easing into the homeschool world, so that will mean we can all work together, give the kids plenty of social time, and most importantly encourage each other. I gotta feeling Imma need it.

After talking to a few friends about it, we decided to go with the Horizons curriculum for his first year. We are only doing a couple of broken up hours a few days a week & it is very flexible.

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We got a few puzzles, books, flash cards, magnets, and games (mostly in the dollar section at Target) to get us started. We ordered a 31 tote to keep everything in.

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My sister Tammie took the time to laminate all of the pages from our resource packet for us so we can reuse it. (Thanks, Aunt Tammie!)

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More than anything, I’m using this time to figure out the boys’ learning styles and preferences as I introduce new concepts. I feel like Jase already knows a good bit of what this year’s learning objectives recommends, so it’s really just reinforcing that & digging in to some of the Biblical stories and Scriptures. Jonathan really wants us to focus on teaching more common sense/problem solving, both of which I feel like come very naturally to him. And we also want to be intentional in pursuing teachable moments. For example, the other day I was making breakfast and Jase found a silver bowl that was reflecting light onto the ceiling. Jon stopped and explained to him how/why that happened. I think using our every day life and reading to them a lot is the best way to teach!

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Plus, boys need lots of time to be active too. It’s so good for their learning to be able to take frequent breaks and just RUN. (That’s part of why we’re looking for land- these boys need some room to stretch out!)

Kade is already in the mix too. He likes to sit and draw/color or sit in my lap and be read to, whereas Jase does NOT like to sit still to color (but will sit and build cool things with his magnets for hours). It’s interesting to see their differences and how interested Kade is in learning already. I made sure to get some things for him too, and he’s already so good at puzzles, etc.

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Honestly, this is not how I pictured us starting our homeschool journey. Living in a rental house with all of our stuff packed in storage. I figured we’d be in our own house by now and I’d have our “classroom” all set up. But, God is showing me once again everything doesn’t have to be “perfect” to be successful.

My theme for this year: GRACE. For all of us. Lots of flexibility as we figure this thing out. I know everyone is so different, so it’s really about finding what works for you and your child. And most importantly, keeping the main thing the main thing. My kiddos having a relationship with Christ is hands down the most important aspect of their “education” to me.

Every year I pray for all of the students, teachers, and school staff heading back into the school year. This year, all you homeschooling fams are on my list too! Hereeee we go!!