Friday, August 1, 2014

Serenity

Do you know the Joni Mitchell classic "Big Yellow Taxi"?

If you answered no, these lyrics might jog your memory:

Don't it always seem to go
That you don't know what you've got
Til it's gone
They paved paradise
And put up a parking lot

(The Counting Crows also did a terrible remake of it sometime in the mid 2000s--if this is the only version you know, Google Joni's version.) 

Ain't that the truth?

I was singing the song to myself yesterday as Jax and I went for a walk at my parent's house in the country.

Growing up, I never appreciated living in the country; as far as I was concerned, we were in the middle of nowhere and my social life was lacking because of it (which is silly because my best friend and I were still at each others houses every single day). Now that I'm an adult and am living in the city with a family of my own, I have a new found love and appreciation of escaping the hustle and bustle of Denver and returning home to the quiet and serene country. There is nothing lovelier than sitting out on my parent's gorgeous patio at dusk, sipping on hot tea, and watching the stars make their nightly debut. 

I can't believe I didn't appreciate the beauty and tranquility of the country when I lived here.. You really don't know what you've got til it's gone. I feel so blessed to have such a quiet and lovely place to come home to when we visit my parents and am looking forward to Jax spending summers in the country with Grammy and Papa (and with his Nana who just bought a house in the country too!).

I'll leave you today with this Prayer for Peace of Mind by St. Francesca Xavier Cabrini--take time this weekend to enjoy the beauty of the world around us and to thank God for all of the blessings in your life.

Fortify me with the grace of Your Holy Spirit and give Your peace to my soul that I may be free from all needless anxiety, solicitude and worry. Help me to desire always that which is pleasing and acceptable to You so that Your will may be my will.

See you all Monday!

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Mommy Break

Being a mom is hard work.

Don't get me wrong; it's the best job in the world and I thank God every day for giving me my beautiful son but it. is. exhausting. I feel so incredibly blessed to be able to stay home with Jax--Brandon has an awesome job that allows me to do so and I have my part-time job that I do from the comfort of our home. It doesn't get any better! 

Lately though, I've been feeling more tired and have had less patience with everyone and everything.. I felt like a failure as a wife and mother. After an especially trying day a few weeks ago, I told Brandon I needed to get away for awhile. But where was I going to go?

I wound up taking my computer to our local Starbucks, nibbled on a cheesecake brownie, and just wrote for a couple of hours. It's amazing what a few hours to yourself can do--it was therapeutic and gave my tired soul the little break it needed.

I have started designating Thursday evenings as my little "mommy break."

I sip on hot mint tea.

I listen to the lulling sounds of The Black Keys. 

I write. 

I return home feeling more patient, rested, and thankful.

The thought of leaving Jax and taking some time for myself made me feel like a terrible mother--but now I realize that getting a few hours to myself every week actually makes me a better mom. I'm happier, more upbeat, and feel more ready to tackle anything.

If any of you mammas out there are feeling tired and weary, take a step back and do something special for YOU--being a mom is tough work and it's easy to forget to rest and take care of yourself.

Take a long walk.

Go get that pedicure you've been contemplating.

Attend church or adoration by yourself.

Visit a coffee shop, indulge in something sweet, and kick back.

Whatever you decide to do, enjoy it! You're awesome, mamma and you deserve it! 

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Online Blog Conference--Is It Worth It?

Okay, so here's the scuttlebutt:

I've been wanting to attend a blogging conference forever now (forever=when I started my blog in February 2012) but there has never been one nearby and I don't have the time or money to commit to traveling across country for one. Anyway, I was scrolling through Instagram the other day and saw a giveaway for tickets to the Online Blog Conference--I did my research and it sounds like it's actually a pretty cool deal (and for only $52, it's totally doable!).

Has anyone who is reading this been to an online blogging conference? Is it worth the time and money?

If anyone reading this could offer some insight, I would greatly appreciate it!
Online Blog Con
Is this a good one to attend? Or is there another online conference that you'd recommend?

Monday, July 28, 2014

A Boy and His Cat

Do you remember your first pet?

For me, it was a Great Dane (the size of a horse) named Lexy.

For Jax, it's a cat (the size of a dog) named Bitsy. 

Jackson just adores Bitsy and Bitsy is so gentle and patient with little Jax. God definitely knew what he was doing when he brought Bitsy into our lives--she is seriously the perfect pet for us and completes our family.

I have a feeling these two are going to grow to be best buds (as soon as Jackson learns the concept of "gentle")!

Do you remember your first pet?

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Healthy Chicken Parmesan

Have I ever talked about the first meal I ever made for Brandon (not counting the burned popcorn)?

It was Chicken Parmesan.

Brandon had just returned home from Afghanistan and came to Hays for a few days to visit me and other friends. Since this was the first meal I'd be making him, I wanted it to be extra special and delicious--I decided on making this Chicken Parm and it was excellent! We had dinner by candlelight, drank wine, listened to Sinatra, and just talked.. it was a wonderful night that will forever be etched in my memory.

Fast forward four years and we had this again while we watching Duck Dynasty in the living room and listening to Jackson yelling at the cat.. what a difference a few years make (but I wouldn't trade it for the world)!

Now that I'm a health conscious mamma with a slowing metabolism, I try to prepare dinners that are light, nutritious, and tasty--and the way I prepared this Chicken Parmesan was just that! Here is the recipe I used with the alterations:

Chicken Parmesan (Adapted from Southern Food)
Anngredients:
  • 4 boneless chicken breasts, pounded to 1/2 inch thickness
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup skim milk
  • seasoned bread crumbs
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 8 slices mozzarella cheese (made with skim milk)
  • 1 jar (16 oz) heart healthy spaghetti sauce
  • Parmesan cheese
  1. Whisk together the egg and milk. Dip the chicken breasts in milk and egg mixture and then in bread crumbs. Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Brown the chicken in the hot oil on both sides until golden, about 3 to 4 minutes on each side. Set chicken in a baking dish.
  2. Slice 8 pieces of mozzarella cheese and put two on each chicken breast. Pour 1 jar of your favorite spaghetti sauce over all. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese and a little more mozzarella and bake at 350° for about 25 to 30 minutes, or until bubbly. 
  3. Serve with whole wheat or garden vegetable spaghetti and a spinach salad. 
By using skim dairy products like milk and mozzarella cheese, you're cutting out a significant amount of fat from the dish; the garden spaghetti and heart healthy spaghetti sauce are both low in fat and each contain at least 40% of your recommended daily vegetables.

This recipe is rich, delicious, and perfect for picky children (or husbands) who refuse to eat their vegetables!

Enjoy!

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Jackson's 7 Month Update

Didn't I just post Jax's 6 month update?!

Where has this month gone??

Ugh!

This has been a crazy busy month with lots of new and exciting adventures for our boy. Jackson is seriously the perfect baby; he's laid back, always smiling, and sleeps like an angel. He brings so much joy to our lives and I can't imagine life without him.

Here's what we've been up to this month:

Weight: 17 lbs. (50%)

Length: 28 1/2 inches (75%)

Nicknames: Jax, Stinker, Bubbas, Fun Size Brandon, Kiddo, Cheeks

Wearing: Mostly 9 Month clothes & Size 3 diapers.

Sleep: He's still an excellent sleeper (since he's sleeping with us..)! A friend turned us on to breathable crib bumpers so we bought one and plan to start crib training soon.. just like every other month

Jax likes: Bitsy, little kids/babies, phones, rolling around, talking, mommy's slippers, being interacted with, peek-a-boo, story time at B&N, weekly music class at the library, books, running errands, "helping" with laundry & dishes, Sesame Street, eating big boy food, when daddy gets home from work.

Jax dislikes: Being left alone for too long, being tired, when Bitsy sits just out of his reach, being bored, loud noises.

Food: We're eating solids! I've been feeding Jax solids at lunch time and so far he seems to really like it. His favorites so far are Greek yogurt, banana, Greek yogurt with carrot, pretzels, and pickles. I'm hoping to begin incorporating more finger foods into his diet in the next week.

Mom & Dad's Favorite Things: How funny & laid back he is, his giant smile first thing in the morning, listening to his jabbers and giggles, and watching him explore the world around him.

Teeth: Nada. I thought for sure his two bottom teeth were poking through but they haven't.. Poor drooly guy!

Happenings: First weekly story time at B&N; first non-family babysitter; first time on the (golf) course; Uncle Joey's 21st birthday; first real foods; first 4th of July; lots of family time with Grammy, Papa Tony, Uncle Joey, Great Aunt Nancy & Uncle Rolf, Great Aunt Brigette & Uncle Ed, and cousins; first weekly music class at the library; meeting cousins Sam, Sydney, & Scott; lunch with Julianne, Taylor, and his new friend Daniel. 

~I can't get over how sweet and good-natured Jax is! I was severely colicky and needy as a baby/toddler (which I am often reminded of by my parents..) and thought for sure that I'd have the mother's curse and would end up with a difficult baby. Jackson is the exact opposite of that, thank goodness! He smiles at everyone, hardly ever cries (except in church--it never fails!), and is easy to entertain. He really is the perfect baby! 

~We celebrated Jackson's first 4th of July with my parents, brother, Aunt Nancy, Uncle Rolf, and dear family friends--it was a lovely evening! Jim & Ilse (our friends) hosted us at their beautiful home; we spent the entire evening in their HGTV-esque backyard and enjoyed lots of good food & drinks, laughter, and fireworks. My little social butterfly loved siting on everyone's lap (and by social butterfly, I mean Jax--not Brandon), listening to Jim play the harmonica (adorable video below), staring at the fire pit, and gazing up at the colorful fireworks. 
Also: Jax is now (kind of) sitting up on his own.
~As I previously mentioned, I've started taking Jax to story time at Barnes & Noble every Monday and to music class at the library every Thursday--I'm pretty sure it's the highlight of both our weeks! Jax loves watching and interacting with other kids and I like being able to get out of the house for a bit and talk to other moms. I have also decided that the cutest thing ever is when a toddler sees "Baby" (Jax) and comes over to talk to him/pet his hair/smile at him; Jax and I both always get a huge kick out of it! 







Monday, July 21, 2014

The Best High I Ever Had.

Have you ever gotten a really amazing high that lasted the entire day?

I have--and it was the best ever!

In fact, it happened just a few weeks ago.. let me tell you all about it.

Two Saturdays ago, I had that itch that I just couldn't scratch; you know the one I'm talking about? I tried convincing myself it wasn't worth it.. we're trying to save for a house and I didn't need to be spending our hard earned money on my bad habit.

I tried to distract myself but it didn't work.

When Brandon woke up Saturday morning, I told him I needed to get my fix.

I needed to go thrifting.

Wait.. what did you think I was talking about?!

Brandon, Jackson, and I headed out of the house late Saturday morning on a mission to find some "new" pajamas for Jax (we're very blessed in that we were gifted with boxes of our nephews old baby clothes.. however, Mr. Jax continues to grow and is too big for most of the pajamas now). The first stop on our trip was the gigantic Arc down the street--I figured they'd have tons of pajamas at a good price!

Nope. Not at all.

The plan was to get 12 Month PJs (Jax is a tall guy and currently wears 9 Month everything) that he could start wearing in the next month or two.. Arc had nothing.

Bummer.

The next closest thrift store was (Habitat for Humanity) ReStore--we'd never been to a ReStore before but we'd heard they have nice furniture at a decent price so we figured we'd at least go in to peruse.

You guys; I have a new favorite thrift store.

ReStore was HUGE and had tons of furniture, clothes, appliances, cabinetry, and more--for next to nothing!
I loved this desk.. I'm in desperate need of a desk/home office space but we literally have NO room for any new furniture. *sigh* Wouldn't that be gorgeous repainted white with black hardware?
The price of that desk.. it pained me to leave it! Stupid tiny apartment..
Anyway, after scouring all of the furniture we made our way back to the clothes.

I wasn't sure what to expect in terms of baby clothes but we hit the jackpot.
Kinda hard to see but the boy's pajamas were $1.25 each. Boom!
We went through the boy's pajama drawer and found 7 different pairs of like new Carters brand PJs for $1.25 each. SOLD! We grabbed all of the 12 Month ones and made a quick beeline over to the women's clothing to see if anything caught my eye. 
They had several shirts from The Loft for only $2 each.. not bad!
After making a quick trip around the outdoor and cabinetry sections, we headed to the cash register to pay for our purchases and received the surprise of a lifetime. Our total for 7 pairs of gently used Carters brand pajamas and my adorable cupcake shirt was $4.87. 

Whaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaat?! 

Come to find out, Saturdays are $.50 baby clothes and $1 adult clothing day. 
$3.50 for the lot.
I was seriously on Cloud 9 the rest of the day and had to text my mom and Mamma Nancy to brag about our purchase (I am not a humble person when it comes to finding a good deal). After leaving ReStore, Brandon and I celebrated with Burger Saturday at Rock Bottom Brewery. 
The Bourbonzola Burger--BEST burger ever!
Brandon and I were both really impressed with ReStore and plan to frequent it often--I also plan to donate all of our clothes, furniture, and whatnot to them in the future. If you have one in your area, I highly encourage you to check it out; you won't be disappointed!
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