The Blessed Life

The Blessed Life

Friday, June 29, 2012

Friday Five-Recipes

In response to your burning question....No, I am not going vegan.  At least not yet.  I am however, going to try and eat less meat and dairy.  For a multitude of reasons.  But, you should know that none of the reasons for going vegetarian or vegan include a love of animals.  I firmly believe that God put chickens and cows on the earth for us to eat.  I am just not convinced that it is healthy to consume as much meat and animal products as we do in our culture.  And frankly, I think I have been pretty open about how I feel about conventional vs. organic meat so you can assume I still don't really care for how we treat cattle or chicken on conventional farms or the health consequences of that treatment.

Anyshways,  now that we have that straightened out.  I am trying some new recipes.  I am hopeful they will be delicious.  Once I know, I will let you know!  If you try them first, be sure to leave me a comment telling me what you thought.

1.  Cucumber and Tomato Salad with Marinated Garbanzo Beans, Feta and Herbs.

Looks yummy, doesn't it.  Not vegan obvi, since it has cheese, but vegetarian for sure.

2.  Healthy Mexican Sweet Potato Skins.

Again, yum.  We love pretty much anything that includes black beans and cheese.

3.  Rainbow Stuffed Bell Peppers.

Recipe from a good friend, Susan H.

4 small to medium size bell peppers
 1 color each, red, green, yellow, orange
½ lb. ground turkey
 For vegetarian substitute can of pinto beans
1/3 cup diced red onions
1 (16oz) can refried beans
1 (8 ½ oz) can whole kernel corn, drained
¾ cup chunky salsa
¾ cup cooked rice
1/8 cup chopped parsley
1 tsp. garlic powder
¼ tsp. chili powder
¼ tsp. cumin
Salt to taste
8 oz. Colby jack cheese, shredded

Cut bell peppers in half from top of stem to bottom; discard seeds and membranes.  In a large pot of boiling water, blanch peppers for 3 minutes; invert to drain.
In medium, skillet brown turkey with onions.  Add remaining ingredients and simmer until mixture is hot and bubbly.  Place peppers in 13x9 pan sprayed with nonstick coating.  Stuff peppers with bean mixture.  Top peppers with cheese.
Bake covered at 350 degrees for 35 to 40 minutes.

4.  Avacado and Grilled Corn Salad with Cilantro Vinegrette.

This recipe had me at avacado.  I could eat those things by the bucket full.

5.  Spinach Lasagna. 

I have made this before, but I think I added differnt veggies last time.  I am too lazy to type out the recipe, but if you google spinach lasagna you will get a TON of results.  I am going to make it just according to the recipe this time.  Thanks to Elaine for the recipe!

So there you go, some vegetarian, not vegan, recipes.  I can't vouch for any of them yet, but will for sure let you know as I make them.  If you have any delish recipes I should try send them my way.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

A List

1.  I have decided to do homeschool preschool with the girls.  Isabelle technically would not be able to start preschool until next fall, but I think she is ready and most of the material Molly can do also.  If preschool goes well, I may just decide to keep going...who knows.

this has nothing to do with this post, but i think she is so darn cute!

2.  I watched Forks Over Knives the other day on netflix and it has rocked my world.  No, I am not going totally vegan this instant (i love cheeseburgers and ice cream too much)....but who knows, I might one day.  For now we are working on eliminating the vast majority of meat out of our diets.  I really believe everyone should watch these types of movies (like this one and food inc. and many like them) and be more informed, but that isn't American's style now is it?  Crazy to think how many people suffer from obesity, heart disease, cancer, diabetes, etc. and won't try something so simple as changing their diet.  Notice I said simple, not easy.  Okay, I will step off the soapbox now.

just another cute picture.

3.  Saying I am going to homeschool and looking into veganism makes me sound like quite the hippie.  I assure you I am not.  Of course, I don't fully immunize my kiddos either so maybe I am???

4.  I took the girls to story time at the library yesterday.  They had a great time and I think we are going to make it a weekly thing.  The funny thing is I told them to be quiet and sit still while we were there so during the song time when the other kids were standing up and singing, my kids were just sitting there looking confused.  Mom fail.  Next time I will tell them just to obey the teacher!!!!

5.  Lawson is getting too big.  I want my baby back. (in my head is the baby back ribs song)  It is high time he should be sleeping through the night and instead he is getting up again.  I should let him cry it out but I am terrified, TERRIFIED of him waking up the girls.

6.  One of the most exciting things that has happened to me this past week was learning how to use emoticons on my phone.  True story.

7.  I want to move to Minnesota or Alaska, or Antartica.  Somewhere cold.  Very, very cold.  It is going to be over 100 here again 106.  I hate hot.  HATE HOT.

8.  I have become slightly depressed over never being able to check off laundry or dishes from my to do list.

9.  Did I mention how much I hate hot weather? 

10. Right at this very moment my girls are jumping from the chair to the table to the other chair in my living room while throwing plastic french fries all over the place.  I think I am going to lose my mind!

11.  Isabelle used her newfound scissor skills to cut her hair this past week.

I am ending on #11 to see if my bro, Danny, reads this.  He hates odd numbers.  And prime numbers.  We are a weird group!

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Embrace the Camera

It is a rare thing for me to actually be in pictures these days.  Because of that, I was super glad that my sis in law, Katie, snapped this one of Lawson and me during our most recent trip to the zoo.

He is getting bigger and bigger everyday and if I am not careful I will wake up one morning and have no pictures of us together while he is still little.  Yes, I would like to lose weight, and have nicer clothes and overall just look better in pictures.....BUT, if I wait for the perfect picture, I might wind up with NO pictures.

That is why I embrace!  Want to know what all this embracing the camera talk is about?  Check out Emily's blog.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Five Months Old

As Isabelle would say, "Holy moly cow." 

How is it that my little baby boy is five months old?  Totally weird.  And crappy.  I want Lawson to stay small.  Late night feedings and poopy diapers and all.  He isn't cooperating.  What a little stinker.

Here are some facts about Lawson at five months old!

Weight: 14lbs, 11oz

Height:  Who knows

Likes:  his swing, playing on the play mat, grabbing his toes, talking (well, babbling really), being held, and his momma

Dislikes:  tummy time

What's happened in the last month:  developed thrush (fun for baby and mom...), started sleeping more consistently, started being okay with the car seat, went swimming for the first time, another zoo trip, tried rice cereal (fail), and went on our first vacation which included lots of other firsts!

Eating:  Still eats all the time.  during the day it is at least every three hours, sometimes more.  pretty sure most babies are eating every four or four and a half hours at this age.  not laws, he is an eater.

Sleeping:  Several naps during the day, goes to bed around the same time as the girls (8:00 or 8:30) and then sleeps till about 5am, feed him and back to sleep for awhile.  I am way, way, way less consistent with the whole Babywise thing with Lawson than I was with the girls.  Funny how that works out.  We still follow the whole sleep, eat, play thing, but that is about it.

With a third baby it turns out you are a little bit more relaxed in your parenting.  I realized how true that was when we were at the pool on Sunday.  Lawson was asleep and I was holding him while the girls were swimming.  When Isabelle was a baby there is no way I would have left the house during her nap time.  Poor Lawson has to get his naps in when and where he can.  I think it is probably a good thing that I am not as rigid this time around, but I still sometimes feel a little guilty for not being the same with each kid! 

Happy five months, little guy.  Your mom and dad sure love you!

Monday, June 18, 2012

Around Here

Here's what's been going on around our house (and some pics of the kiddos)!

Last week we went in for some blood work for Molly to figure out if she has any food allergies.  We have been dealing with her "sensitivities" for awhile now and it feels like we are perpetually figuring out foods that don't agree with her and her stomach.  The blood work came back today and just as I suspected, no allergies came up.  SO frustrating.  I knew she probably didn't have any true allergies, but rather is just sensitive to some foods, but I wish I could know in advance which foods so that I didn't have to keep discovering new ones on my own.  Plus, poor Molly....who wants to feel sick to their stomach all the time, not to mention that she has non stop diaper rash from all the poop.  (sorry for the tmi)  So we will continue to keep a food log and watch for foods that don't agree, but really I am just sick of it all!

totes adorbs

In other news, Isabelle has a fun new saying!  Just kidding.  It really drives me crazy.  Whenever she wants something and is being told she can't have it, but then continues to ask and gets in trouble for asking over and over she will shout, "Never mind!"  Doesn't that sound just precious? 

from our recent trip to the zoo

Lawson is good, getting big.  Tomorrow he will be five months so I will do a five month post for him.  When we were at the doctor today I saw two newborn babies.  It made me realize just how fast they get big.  Lawson is only five months and he looks huge compared to a little baby.  It also made me slightly want another one.  Slightly.

moo with uncle dan at the zoo

My girls have been swimming like crazy.  Both are becoming expert swimmers.  Isabelle likes to have on water wings and swim all over the pool.  Molly on the other hand likes to go down the steps, get to the bottom step and then push off and swim underwater to either Jason or me.  They are both like little fishes.

also at the zoo

The summer bucket list is still in progress, but might need to be revised for Molly's diet!  Hoping to get the sidewalk paint project in this week! 
As for Jason, he is working like crazy.  Not as crazy as a month ago, but still pretty busy.

the cutest

And me, well, I am wrapped up in a current obsession...prek home school.  I would really like to find a curriculum (which I think I have at and start working with Isabelle this fall.  Technically, she could not start a prek program until next year, but I think she is beyond ready.  She already knows so much and is interested in learning more. 
Happy Monday.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Friday Five-Father's Day

Father's Day is Sunday and so today's post is a thank you of sorts to my wonderful husband. 

When your kids are super little (like ours...all three ages three and under) they can't really show or tell you how much they appreciate what kind of parent you are.  In fact, probably they won't tell you until they are much, much, much older.  So it is important to remind your spouse what a good parent they are when their special day rolls around (and probably more often than that!).

So here goes, five reasons that J is a spectacular dad.  In no particular order and clearly not a comprehensive list.

1.  J plays with the kids.  Like gets down on their level to do what they want to do.  Not what he wants to do, or what he has time or energy to do, but what they want to do.  If they want to play outside, he goes outside.  Read a book, yep he'll do that.  Color, fingerpaint, play-doh?  Yep, yep and yep.  He puts their needs/wants ahead of his own every time.  I am pretty sure they will remember this.

first time holding belle
2.  J gets up with the kids every single morning.  That's right.  He is the one to get up with them (at 6am), get their milk, turn on their favorite show, and snuggle up on the couch.  This momma almost always gets to sleep until 7am (sometimes later!!!).

first time holding molly moo
3.  J is a good and patient teacher.  Kids need someone who is patient to teach them new things.  I am not especially good at that.  J is great.  Like when he taught Isabelle about fishing.  Or when he works with the girls to help them get dressed or put on shoes and they insist on doing it by themselves.  He doesn't flip out or get frustrated.  He just helps them and shows them how to do whatever it is they are trying to learn.

you guessed it....holding laws
4.  J is a hard worker.  All the time, no matter what the project, for work or for home, Jason is a hard worker.  And I am not saying that because I am his wife.  Just ask his boss, or his colleagues, or people in his field, or his closest friends.  They will all agree with me.  Whether his kids realize it now or ever, he works hard for them and for our family.

funny faces with belle
5.  J does the girls' hair and paints their nails.  I know that doesn't seem like a lot, but the girls think it is the best thing ever.  I am sure that when Lawson is older he will do equally as cool things with him.  It is the small things, the details that make him such a good father.  Yes, he is good at the big things, but he is good at the details also.  Details matter, details are what is remembered. 

Happy Father's Day, Jason.  You are truly an amazing husband and father and we are so blessed to have you!  I love you.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Summer Days

Well one thing has become very clear to me....if I make a checklist things get done.  Seriously.  It is pretty crazy how motivated I am to cross things off a list. 

With that being said, we have done a lot of things that are on our summer bucket list, so I thought I would share.

First, we took a boat ride.  During our family vacay we actually took many boat rides.  The girls are still talking about going to the "middle of the lake" and the boat stopping.

in case you can't tell....i. heart instagram.

We have also been swimming at grandma's house.  We took the girls to swim last Friday night and they had a blast.  Molly was fearless as expected and Isabelle was swimming like a pro!  Both girls spent most of their time jumping in over and over again.  Because I am super afraid of doing anything to my new phone, I do not have pics.  We are planning on more swimming trips so I will take a real camera (you know, because who cares if I break my camera, but not my PHONE!) and try to document the fun.

Two things that we have done many times are going to the zoo and berry picking.  We are actually going to the zoo again tomorrow and berry picking on Thursday.  The girls have a great time and it is nice to get outside in the mornings before it gets too hot.

Also on the list was to set up the pool in the backyard and go buy a new toy.....done and done.

I don't know how good of an idea the toy thing was.  They were pretty overwhelmed with the number of choices and didn't seem to want my input.  The doll I basically forced Molly to get was not what she wanted and Belle picked a doll also.  Funny thing is, the doll that no one wanted gets fought over every day!  Should have just bought two of the same!  When will I ever learn?  I don't know if we are mean parents in that we have never just gone and let our kids buy a toy for no reason or if that is normal.  Either way, we won't be doing it again anytime soon.  Especially since we spent $15 on a doll that no one plays with and $15 on a doll that is a source of arguments everyday!

What have you been up to?  Done anything on your summer bucket list? 

Friday, June 8, 2012

Friday Five-Adventures in Cooking

Today, for Friday Five, I have five new recipes that I have made recently.  Hope you enjoy!

As a side note, the first recipe I did not make so it doesn't actually count as one of my adventures in cooking, but still, you should know about it because it is seriously yummy!

First, Tequila Lime Chicken.

While I am hesitant to post a recipe that involves alcohol, the fact is, we (and by we, I mean Jason) made this and it was so very delicious.  It is, of course, a Pioneer Woman recipe and as usual she did not disappoint.  We did not marinate for the full time the recipe called for and it still turned out very flavorful.  In addition to the chicken we made black beans and rice and served it all with a tortilla, some avocado slices and a little monterey jack cheese.  Super delicious and great for a night when you want to grill and want mexican!  Can't wait for Jason to make this again! 

Second, Blueberry Gems from Paula Deen

I may have mentioned that my bff, Rochelle, sent me two Paula Deen cookbooks for my birthday.  She has a love affair with Paula Deen like I do with Pioneer Woman.  And since I have a ton of blueberries from our recent berry farm outings I decided to find a great Paula Deen recipe to make.  These were so scrumptious.  They were also very easy to make and involved no mixer!  I did not have self rising flour, so I made do with all purpose and added the baking powder and salt.  I think that they would have turned out even better if I had used the correct flour.  The only weird thing about these was that they got a little mushy overnight.  I always put leftover muffins in a ziploc to store them, but these did not do well with that method.  Who knows?  I will be making these again.

Next, Pot Pie Cups.

I actually found these on pinterest and decided to try them.  We had them last night and they were pretty good.  Would have them again if I needed something fast and easy.  I thought for sure the girls would love them given the fact that they made of biscuits...but not so much.  Turns out my kids are kind of picky eaters.  I do think that next time I would change the recipe a bit and not use as much cheese or as much onion powder, but that is just me.  Also, the recipe calls for small biscuits (that come in a pkg of 10), but I only had large ones that came in a package of 8.  They may have been a little big which resulted in me having left over filling.  No biggie since I can just buy another can of biscuits, but next time I will look harder for smaller ones.

Fourth, the Homemade Chicken Nuggets I mentioned.

My girls love getting chicken from Chick-fil-A, so I thought making healthy nuggets would win them over for sure.  Boy was I wrong.  These are tasty and I was glad to be able to try out panko bread crumbs in a recipe, but they do have more of an Italian flare.  The recipe uses oregano, parmesan and basil in addition to bread crumbs.  So while Jason and I thought they tasted good (and also were crunchy, not soggy like some other baked nuggets)  I doubt I make them again.  I have another baked nugget recipe I will try and then if they don't like those I guess I will give up!

Last for today Foil Pack Taco Chicken.

I wanted to love this, I really did.  I am constantly looking for good baked chicken recipes because 1.)  I hate cooking chicken on the stove and 2.) I don't know how to grill.  So when I saw this I thought it was perfect.  WRONG.  I am not going to waste anymore time on this recipe except to say that while the chicken was bland and not flavorful at all, the potatoes were delish.  In fact, I may try cooking more veggies the same way.  Will not be making again.

Every time I post a new Adventures in Cooking I am reminded how different life used to be before I would cook.  Jason and I ate out a lot before we had kids and didn't always eat very healthy.  Now, I am not saying that all of the things we make are healthy, but I believe that when you cook at home it has got to be better than going out to eat.  I am also reminded that I used to be a terrible cook.  Sure, I could make some things like tacos or spaghetti, but that was about it.  I am glad that I have overcome that and actually have some confidence in the kitchen.  Not only that, but doing this series has forced me to continue to try new recipes and find new things for my family to eat.  That has been so great since now we have more variety in our weekly meal plans! 

What are you eating?  What are your favorites?  I would love to find some more delicious dinners!

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Molly's funny faces

Molly is such a funny girl.  Getting her to smile for a picture these days is near impossible.  While we were on vacation I wanted one good picture of her sitting with Jason on the boat.  Here is what I got!

Notice how Jason looks pretty much exactly the same in each photo, but not Molly.  She is a crack up!  Hopefully she will get over this phase soon so I can get some pictures of her just smiling a regular smile before she gets too big.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Family Vacation-Part Two

So we left off having survived being stranded......

Day 3:  Woke up after a night of some crazy thunderstorms.  Girls were doing what they do every morning, drink their milk while watching a show and Jason and I had just sat down with a cup of coffee and then it happened...mishap numero dos.  The power goes out.  At first I expected it to come right back on, but it didn't.  I wasn't too worried at first and then we realized we had no water.  Apparently  the water is on a well, which is on a pump run by electricity.  Bummer.  Jason and I pondered what to do and when we had finally made the decision to pack up and come home the power came back on.  I am glad we stayed because the weather was so nice (due to the cold front coming through) and we had a great day.  I was also glad that we had planned donuts for breakfast!  No power required to eat donuts!!!! 

isabelle with her first fish.  i know grandma grape would be proud.

second fish!  she had a great time with her dad.
We had another great day on the boat and eating a yummy dinner.  I fixed chicken nuggets (from a recipe I will share later this week) and some french fries (from a bag...hehe). 

Day 4:  Going home day.  We had actually considered staying an extra day, but when we woke up Friday morning, there was no water.  There was power, but no water.  They had found a leak in the area and were working to repair it.  SO....we packed up our stuff, went on one last boat ride, ate lunch and came home.  And as a side note, the water did not come back on for over 24 hours, so I am glad we left when we did!

the only picture of me with the girls.  and of course, there are zero of me and lawson!

1st, what is up with molly's face?  she was having fun, i promise.  we stopped in joplin for ice cream on our way home.

Overall, we had a great trip.  We had fun on the boat, the girls had fun being outside whether it was walking to Mimosa (where of course we let them buy candy), playing in their pool or being on the boat.  Jason and I had fun being together without our iphones!!!  Lawson did great, as usual.  He has done pretty well every trip we have taken with him so far.  While we were there, Isabelle got sick, so that was a bummer, but even she didn't do that bad being sick.

It was hard not to think about my grandparents and how they would have liked seeing kiddos at the lake again.  Or how my grandma would have loved having someone available to take her fishing!  Mostly, I am so glad we went.  Yes, the drive was long, yes, I did freak out when we were stranded and when we had no power and water, but it turned out okay and we have some fun memories to look back on.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Our Family Vacation-Part One

So, we went on a little family vacation.  It was really pretty nice.  We did have a few minor mishaps, which of course felt like major mishaps to me and only tiny mishaps to Jason.  Here is a recap and some pics of our time. 

Day 1:  Long, long, long drive to the lake.  It takes my mom a little under 5 hours to get to the lake.  It took us right around 6 to get there.  We thought we were so clever to leave in the morning, make a stop for lunch and then have the girls sleep the remainder of the way, except they didn't sleep.  At all.  It was an interesting trip. 

After we finally made it to the lake and unloaded our stuff we went on a little boat ride.  The girls loved the ride and it was so nice to be out on the boat.  Then we had one of the girls favorite dinners, Crusty Chicken and Noodles (my parm dijon chicken they call crusty chicken) and went for a walk. 

they put on their life jackets pretty much the instant we got there.

molly's first boat ride!  isabelle went on her first boat ride when she was 6-7 months old.

eating at my favorite spot to eat at the lake.  they didn't sit with us the entire time we were there.

And just so I don't forget to mention it, the lake house is great in that there is no phone (or cell service), no television, and no internet (which you probably figured out since there is no phone or cell service!).  That means lots of pure family time.

Day 2:  Woke up and had some delicious pancakes.  Packed up a picnic and went out on the boat.  Attempted to eat lunch on the boat, but the girls weren't really into it.  Jason and I were into it, so we had ourselves a little picnic while the girls wondered why we were sitting still in the boat. 

lawson chillin' on the boat.  my mom said having him in his stroller was probably a safety hazard.  glad he made it home safe and sound!

yes, i realize molly doesn't have pants, or a diaper.

Went back to the house for nap time and then let them go for a little swim in their pool. 

i realize the lighting in these pics is terrible!

Fixed another of the girls' favorite dinners, pizza, and then went for another boat ride.  This time we decided to go quite a bit further than we had before and well, this is where mishap number one occurred.  While out on the boat, far from the house, with virtually NO other boats around, we ran out of gas.  My biggest fear about going out on the boat was getting stranded and there we were, out of gas.  It was then that we realized the gas gauge on my mom's boat did NOT work.  Luckily, when I am freaking out, Jason is usually very calm.  Also, lucky for us another boat showed up and took pity on us and towed us back home.  Of course, it was hard not to take pity on us.  It was almost dark, there were three kids and our boat was going nowhere.  (Oh, and lake patrol was not in our area!)  We made it safely back home and got everyone settled and I think I finally relaxed sometime around midnight.

pic of molly on the boat while stranded!  i didn't take many pics after we ran out of gas.  didn't really feel like capturing the moment.

And since I don't want to take up too much of your time today, I will post the last two days with pictures tomorrow!