Thursday, May 3, 2018

What we've been eating lately.

  Meal planning at our house seems to go in consistent waves and seasons. Spring always seems to be an easy time to stick with meal prep and intentional eating. About the time summer vacations and the start of Fall roll around we've slipped out of a routine and try to get back to it for a few month. Then we use the holidays to lighten up a bit and the cycle starts over again when spring hits. I used to beat myself up that- the whole not-sticking-with-it no matter what. Enough years and time behind us now, and I see that is normal and actually works for us!

  So, per our usual cycle, we've been back into meal planning lately! (Hi, spring time! You're great in every way.) I thought I would share a few favorites we've discovered lately. I sit down over the weekend and plan out three meals for the upcoming week. Any more and we're likely to be throwing unused food away. Three is the magic number for our family! With random meetings, nights out with friends, late nights at work, or just not being in the mood to cook a full meal- we've found that planning for only three meals is perfect. If one meal in particular usually has lots of leftovers, I'll try to make it earlier in the week to have for lunches, etc. Other than that, I just decided each day which meal to make instead of being really specific when I'm meal planning (ie. jalepeno chicken on tuesday, spaghetti on thursday etc). I've also started printing out the recipes that aren't in cookbooks I have on hand. THIS HAS BEEN HUGE. I'm always just bookmarking recipes on my phone and have to have it handy when I'm cooking. In general, I try to not have my phone with me all the time and trying to read a recipe on it while cooking just bugs me. Printing them out is wonderful because I can see them all at once, grocery-list making is simpler, and then I can file it away to use again if we end up loving the dish. Maybe everyone else has been doing this forever? I'm probably late to the game, but printing my recipes has been a dinner-prep game changer!

Ok, enough babbling. Here are some of our recent favorites (you'll see a theme- we're clearly working through all of Gina's recipes and we mainly eat chicken):

JalapeƱo popper chicken: SO STINKING GOOD. Justin and I both love this dish.

General Tso's chicken: I don't like Chinese food, but Justin really likes this lightened up version of a classic.

PW breakfast pizza: I hadn't made this for years until a bible study breakfast a few weeks ago. A great dish to share!

Lemon garlic sheet pan chicken & veggies: We cut the amount of garlic butter in half, but otherwise its amazing. The chicken is the best baked chicken we've found!

Spinach dip: another party favorite! Really fast and simple to make and gets devoured.

Brussel sprouts: it's not really a recipe, but I've been obsessed with cooking a few pieces of center-cut bacon and then pan-frying a pound of brussels sprouts in the same skillet. I eat it for lunch at least a few days every week lately!

Stovetop popcorn: Slowly but surely, we're cutting out overly processed stuff in our house when it makes sense. That includes microwave popcorn! My kids LOVE popcorn, so every few days we make a big batch on the stove with olive oil and salt (we use a WhirlyPop). SO good and simple.

 With summer on the horizon, I can't wait for grilling season and more fresh veggies! Give me all your favorite summer recipes! Also, can we talk about kid lunches/snacks? I want to round-up some new ideas (anyone else get a rut with those things?) so give your go-to's!

Wednesday, May 2, 2018

Life lately.

 It's 7am and I'm sitting in my quiet kitchen while the boys are still sleeping. That fact alone is amazing to me, since my boys have always been notorious early risers. That has shifted lately. This morning probably has something to do with Justin taking them to the park and playing outside way past their bedtimes last night. But it's also due in part to Caleb phasing out his afternoon nap, Tyler not being a baby anymore, and a host of other shifts we've noticed around our house lately. Our family is changing is really sweet ways.

  You guys. I keep trying to think up the words to explain all the things changing in me these days. None really seem good enough. That alone is probably evidence enough that I'm not quite the same person I was a few months ago. I have less words, or, more accurately, I feel the need to say less words. These days, I like quiet a bit more and have been letting thoughts stick around in my head a bit longer before saying them out loud to anyone but Jesus.

  All of these shifts have happened slowly and without much notice until recently. I've somehow had more time to work on small house projects in the busiest season of our life. I've said no or stepped back from things that surprise even me. New things are important now. Prayer has become something that is woven into every minute of the day, and something I talk less to others about. I've been really looking at my kids and family and taking more mental snapshots. Dreams I would normally talk about and then shrug off, I find myself waking up at 5am to really truly work on and make happen. Even more crazy, I've been reading non-fiction books and loving them. Who am I?!

  I posted something about this on my instagram the other day, about somehow making time for small projects in the midst of this crazy season. And a really wise friend commented that is how it often happens. She said "when life throws us curve balls, we feel more focused and much more intentional. Instead of thinking 'someday', we think 'what needs to happen now? And then we do those things."

  Huh. Yes. Without realizing it, that is exactly that has happened to my heart since January. Letting that truth sink in makes me feel the weight of these last few months. On January 31st, we stepped into a hospital and into things that have forever changed us. I think I can speak for our whole family when I say that? Tyler is probably pretty unaffected, but Caleb's life has been forever marked, Justin's focus and priorities have changed, and I know mine for sure have.

  Maybe it's just that we see things differently- what fills our time versus our hearts? What actually matters? What does it practically look like to stay in constant communication with Jesus? What if we prayed about things more than we talked about them? When we know exactly how crazy life can get, how much more intentional do we want to be with the down times? What happens when we sift through the good and better things to focus more on the best?

  Or maybe its just that I'm getting older and experiencing more life and understanding a bit more each day that it is sweet to get quiet and look more at Jesus than anything happening around me. Or, more appropriately, to look for Jesus in the things around me. Spring helps with that, amIright?

  I just feel like this season is one to be marked. One that, when I'm 80, I will look back on as being significant. Lots of times we can't see what's happening, so its fun to know and see and be able to measure change and growth happening. I mean, check back with me in a few months to see if the little business I'm dreaming up has tanked or if we're feeling exhausted from the unknowns of some health concerns. I might be singing a different tune! Either way, it feels really sweet to be able to see God in the ordinary and specific things of our family and my life.

Saturday, April 14, 2018

Mother's day: gift guide.

Need some Mother's day gift ideas? It feels as if every year, I find myself sort of wracking my brain for great gifts to give the moms in my life (my own mom, mother in law, sisters, friends who are moms, friends who are waiting to be moms....SO MANY MOMS). I'm on the ball this year (maybe for the first time?) and gifts are already on their way or ready to be wrapped up!

  I thought I'd share some of my favorite ideas- most are budget friendly, perfect for any mom (young, old, friend/family, or even someone waiting to become a mom!), and they're all a little unique. Let me know your favorite gifts for moms!

Belonging necklace. Simple, sweet, and handmade by women in Asia who have been rescued from human trafficking. I love the idea of gifting it to a mom in your life and letting her know she belongs. Also, its just a really pretty 10k gold necklace that makes a great wardrobe staple! (Wanted something else handmade by artisans around the globe? I also love this makeup bag, this fun bracelet, and these earrings (I'm really into gold right now evidently??)

Art print. The options for a fun and meaningful piece of art are sort of endless. A quick google or etsy search will give you hundreds of option. I am in love with this simple print. You could also do a fun photo project like this one or even create your own custom piece of art! (tip: save some $$ by skipping the cost of a custom frame and just picking up your own at Target!)

Giant fern. Ok I know that sounds weird. But giant, potted ferns are perfect for summer! Or splurge and buy your mama a gorgeous container full of different blooms. (Ferns are just SUPER hardy and nearly impossible to kill!)

The best book. Give this book to a mom you know, please. It's really, really great (and not specifically geared to moms). If you know a mom in the thick of raising littles, a mom waiting to carry or adopt a child of her own, a mom dealing with an empty nest- give them this sweet and wise book (add this free printable inside!).

A gift card. Stop hating on gift cards! Treat a mom you love to one so she can treat herself! Maybe buy all your mom bffs a Starbucks card or gift your mama a pedicure or a fun combo of gift cards for a date night out!

Babysit their kids. Don't just offer, but say "on Saturday May 35th I'm free all day and you're getting out of the house! I'll bring pizza and hang out with the kids!" What a sweet gift for any mom who isn't an empty-nester.

Experience/quality time. My sisters and mom have unintentionally started this tradition of doing something together each year. Its even better than big gifts! We've to brunch at a local landmark, met up for pizza and a movie, treated each other to lunch at a fun local restaurant, and this year we're going to this fun floral arranging workshop! Find a local cooking class, wine tasting, flower arranging, or even make signs together at Board & Brush. So much fun to do something together!

Friday, April 13, 2018

Weekly Top 5 |v.8

  Happy Friday! Spring temperatures finally hit Indiana this week and it has been as glorious as we all hoped it would be. Nevermind that there's snow coming in three days, today its sunshine-y and warm and we will be scooting our tushes out the door from breakfast until naptime! Spring is amazing like that. Just two days in a row of sunshine, warmth, trees and flowers blooming- and its enough to makes us all forget about 7 months of cold, snow, dreariness, and feeling cooped up.

  It's funny, because even though spring just now appeared- we're also gearing up for summer already. Only a few weeks left of our mom's Bible study, Caleb has his end of the year preschool program coming up, and we've already signed for VBS at church! So even if it snows again in a few days, I know it won't stick. Summer has to come eventually!

  Have any fun plans this weekend? Justin and I are going on our first date in monthssss. I need to find some ways to hype up the babysitter to Caleb today (maybe ice cream sundaes with her?) because his separation anxiety has been pretty sky high (naturally). But either way, he'll survive and we'll have a chance to be grown ups without kids for a few hours!

Here's what I'm loving around the internet this week:

1. I never buy music, but I actually bought this album this week and can't get enough. If nothing else, listen to this song!

2. We've been leaving the potatoes out, but otherwise I really really love this baked chicken recipe. Super crispy on the outside and perfectly cooked on the inside. Also, garlic butter green beans!

3. Emily's decluttering challenge. Are you doing this (or any serious spring cleaning)? I'm not really following along, because I've tried to keep up with decluttering over the past year. But I love the heart of it and will probably purge a few spots in our house over the weekend!

4. Simplicity Parenting. I haven't read it yet, but I keep hearing different people talk about how great it is. I don't typically read non-fiction, but when something keeps popping up and seems to line up with what I'm learning or practicing on my own- I pay attention! So it's on my list to put on hold at the library this weekend!

5. My fav photo printing site has a new $5 off coupon! Perfect for getting a head start on Mother's Day gifts.

Happy weekending!

Friday, April 6, 2018

Weekly Top 5 |v.7

c/o Noonday Collection
  Fridayyyyyyy! It's been a long week of phasing out of doctor appointments (hooray!) and staying home (because COLD and spring break) and Caleb feeling so much back to his normal self that he's had boundless energy (I will not complain. I will not complain.). We're all excited for the weekend- family breakfast date, a trip to the museum, a birthday party, and mayyyyyybe getting back to church if we're feeling brave enough to risk the germ pool that is the children's ministry (not hating on our church- every children's ministry is germ-y by nature!).
  On top of all the family time, I'm DETERMINED to carve out some time to get away and work. I need to get ahead on my day job work, but I'm also dreaming up and planning a new adventure (stay tuned!). Stealing a few minutes here and there at home hasn't been cutting it, so I'm planning an afternoon Starbucks work session. Anyone else have to literally leave your house to be productive??
  Oh, and the exterminator is stopping by our house in a few hours to kill all the ants that have decided to invade us. Say what you will about harsh chemicals or whatever magic they'll be using, I WANT THE ANTS GONE. We get them every year and store bought ant baits are usually enough to take care of the problem, but they came with a vengeance this time. So give me all the chemical treatments if it means my toddler doesn't run and scream BUGGIES all day long. Best $150 we've spent all month!

  Here's what I'm loving around the internets this week:

1. The Passion Translation. Have you heard of this? I like to compare Bible translations when I'm studying particle passages of Scripture and I love the Holy Bible app on my iPhone includes TPT now- its just a different, amplified way to read the Bible and I like how its given me some new perspective in my Bible studies!

2. A friend sent this HILARIOUS blogpost to our mom's group and I can't. It's so funny!

3. Susie Davis' podcast. It's called Dear Daughters and is different than other podcasts I usually listen to, but in a good way. I always spend days thinking over things she talks about with the wise women she interviews and its a great listen for women of any age who love Jesus!

4. The Selection Series by Kiera Cass. I heard about these books from Sherry (I say that as if we're on a first name basis) and THEY ARE SO GOOD. Pick them up from your library, asap. Seriously

5. My newest art print. Justin's parents gifted us the most generous thing while they were visiting- this print! I've had my eye on it forever and love it even more than I thought I would. It came so fast, fits perfectly in our living room, and is just the perfect way to remind us that 1.) our family is crazy and that's wonderful and 2.) above all, Jesus. Love Jesus.

Happy weekending!

Ps. Anyone up for a Mother's Day gift guide? I'm thinking of putting one together!


Thursday, April 5, 2018

On the mend.

  I've been using the fun 1SE app for the last year-ish- it's so cool to mash together small parts of our days and see a little yearbook video of our family. I'll spare you the clips from January/February- they're still a little hard to watch. But when I put together the clips from March, phew. I could literally see a shift. We're on the mend and it shows! More normal. Better health. Less trauma. I mean, I know that things have leveled off and we are tapering from doctor appointments, but it was really good to see it, too.

  I know I've been a bit vague when I talk about Caleb's health on this blog or on Instagram, and that's ok. His bacterial pneumonia (turned whole body infection) was just really really awful and left a couple of permanent side effects. It just feels odd for me go into specifics or details in these general places, when it isn't my story to tell. He'll likely have lifelong impacts from the infection and while he's only a toddler now, he'll be a adult one day and we want to give him a chance to talk about it however he wants. Justin and I have a feeling that, as he gets older, some of these things will end up being funny stories he tells or party tricks to shock people. But overall, we're thankful he's 3 and will hopefully have so few memories of these surgeries or how his little body worked before he got sick. Kids are crazy resilient and, to look at him, you would NEVER know how sick he was just a few weeks ago or that the infection caused some serious damage. And every doctor has agreed on one big thing- it is a real life miracle that he is here and thriving today!

  Ok, that got dramatic and I didn't intend for it too. The whole point of this post was to mark the change and shift back to normal around our house! We're seeing less doctors (I quit Caleb's OT/PT this week! One doctor doesn't need to see us again until June!) and Caleb has been back at school for a few weeks. I'm thinking he'll have another minor surgery soon-ish and he has a big-ish appointment next week at the children's hospital, but those are all scheduled and predictable things that seem manageable. Outside of his anxious attachment to me (to be expected) and his feelings of being entitled to endless 'treats and presents' (hey, we've been indulgent lately)- he's pretty much back to his old self. Three weeks straight without surgery or anesthesia is good for a kid!

  We're still pretty paranoid about him catching any viruses while his lungs recoup and until we find out what immune system issue is going on, so we're avoiding the germiest places (aka everywhere fun). Which makes waiting for warmer weather feel extra hard- why is it still snowing in Indiana in April?!?! So of course we're counting down the days until we can simply be outside. It honestly feels as if these past three months were just skipped over (because we haven't done a ton of life outside of our little family) so I'm hoping spring doesn't happen and we just go right to summer. Anyone else with me?

  But this video. Such a good reminder to me that season change (they really do!), that even the hardest things can have bright spots, and that these little normal days add up to something really sweet!

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Caleb-isms. v.|2

It's so fun to read back on this post from August, I had to write a new one!

Talking about his "Happy Birthday Jesus" party at school around Christmas time. Will he be there mommy? Jesus is coming to my school! He will come out of my heart and we'll all pop out and say SURPRISE to him!
and later, after the party. He didn't come, mommy. Jesus stayed in my heart.

Seeing me dressed and ready for a dinner party (aka not in yoga pants). MOM! You're a princess! Can I take a picture with you?

On our way to preschool one morning. Where is life taking us, mom?

Driving home from running errands late one afternoon and already feeling anxious about having to wear his eye patch to bed that night. Is it almost nighttime mommy? Can you put the sun back up high in the sky so we don't ever have to go night-night?

While sitting in our kitchen eating lunch after preschool. Ahhh. Home sweet home.

Talking about some of his friends at school. Owen and Navy are my friends. Navy is my friend because she's beautiful.

Riding in the car while wearing his new coat and Paw Patrol sunglasses. Can you take a picture of Cool Caleb, mom?

When he wants to build a fort or pretend to camp. Let's have a camp-over! (a camp/sleepover combo?)

Talking about daddy being at work for the day. You work here, mommy. You work at home. You can't leave.

Waking up to snow on the ground on March 24th. It's Christmas again, mommy! Santa's here!

Repeating age-inappropriate lines he learned from the movie Ferdinand. Sucks to be you, Tyler.

Watching Ferdinand as a family. Daddy! You're huge like Ferdinand! (so. much. laughing after this)

Talking about feeling scared for a doctor's appointment and how you can feel scared and still be brave. In fact, feeling scared and still doing something is what it means to be brave. Oh! I'm really scared. That must mean I'm really brave! Am I brave, mommy?

Driving past one doctor's office on our way to an eye appointment. Mom, do you think Dr. Belcher and Dr. Moorthy are friends? Doctor friends?

When hungry but only wants junk food. My belly is so hungry. I want something tasty!