Friday, February 27, 2015

Give Thanks Friday

Another week is coming to a close so it's time to sit back and count my blessings from this week! This has actually been a really wonderful week (despite all the snow.. but I can't complain because we definitely need the moisture and we still haven't gotten anything like they're getting on the east coast) and I'm looking forward to beginning my birthday month on Sunday!

Again, if you're needing to put things into perspective or are looking for a little end of the week pick-me-up, I encourage you to sit down and jot down your biggest blessings from the week--we all have so much to be thankful for!

1.) Last Saturday, my guys and I spent the entire day thrifting around north Denver and it. was. perfection! We had a nice Burger Saturday lunch at Rock Bottom Brewery (their bourbonzola burger is kinda my jam), thrifted our little hearts out, and then miraculously made it home during the huge blizzard. It was such a fun day (despite almost being sideswiped by idiots who can't drive in the snow) and I can't wait to have more family weekends like it!

2.) I'm thankful to live in such an awesome city with so many hands on things to do with our son! We're used to going to the park every day but since it's been so cold and snowy, we haven't been able to--that being said, we've been taking full advantage of our (amazing) nearby library and toddler gym! Gotta wear out an active boy somehow!

3.) For Valentine's Day, Brandon gifted me a mother's necklace and it finally came in on Monday and I absolutely LOVE it--for now, the middle stone is my birthstone and the two outside ones are Jackson's. It's so beautiful and I haven't taken it off since the UPS guy dropped it off. 

4.) The best part of snowy weather? Lots and lots of baking/cooking (including this banana bread)!

5.) I'm thankful this week for new friends! Brandon and I have gone to dinner with one of his supervisors and his wife a few times now and have had a wonderful time! Last Sunday, we even had them over to watch the Oscars (have I ever mentioned that I'm an Oscars freak and make everyone fill out ballots?)! Speaking of Oscars, Brandon and I tied in our ballots this year which was really, really disappointing to me so we owed each other a back rub. 
Have a blessed weekend!

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Shrimp & Tortellini with Tomatoes & Mozzarella

Last Friday was the first Friday of Lent and I had the urge to do something a little different than our regular fish sticks and mac & cheese. When I found this recipe from Taste of Home, I knew it was the perfect recipe and (with a few Sandmeier family approved modifications) it was!

Enjoy this rich, creamy, and flavorful dish this Friday night and beyond!

Adapted from Taste of Home
  • 1 package (9 ounces) refrigerated cheese tortellini
  • 1 pound peeled, deveined & uncooked medium shrimp
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 cans basil, garlic, & oregano flavored diced tomatoes, undrained
  • 3/4 cup white wine vinegar
  • 1/4 cup grated mozzarella cheese
  • 1/4 cup half & half cream
  • 1 teaspoon oregano 
  1. Cook tortellini according to package directions. Meanwhile, cook shrimp in oil until shrimp turn pink. Stir in the remaining ingredients (minus the tortellini and mozzarella), reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes.
  2. Drain tortellini; stir into shrimp mixture, cover and simmer for 5 minutes. Sprinkle mozzarella cheese over top. 
 Both Brandon and Jackson loved the taste of the dish and even ate all of their tomatoes (which is a big deal, ha)!! It's definitely a crowd pleasing dish that I plan to make again and again. 

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

{this moment}

I found the prompt for this post on one of my favorite blogs (Little Miss Momma) and thought I'd give it a go!

{this moment} – A single photo – no words – capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.
inspired by SouleMama  

Monday, February 23, 2015

Jackson's 14 Month Update

Our little Fun Sized Brandon is now 14 months old and manages to get cuter, smarter, and ornerier (in a good way.. if that makes sense) every day! We're still waiting for him to start walking but I have a feeling it will happen any day now.. somebody please slow down the time!

Here's what our month looked like:
There's a story to go with this picture.. Yesterday Jax supervised while I made a few pre-made Pillsbury chocolate chip cookies (he was teething hardcore and I felt bad)--anyway, he stood on the step stool while I cut the dough and put it on the baking tray. At one point I was talking to Brandon and wasn't paying super close attention to the dough or to Jax and noticed one of the raw cookies was missing--Jax had snatched it up and stuffed it in his mouth while I wasn't looking (I was panicked that he'd wind up with salmonella but that fortunately didn't happen)! Then after the cookies were finished, Brandon watched Jax sneak off to the kitchen, move the step stool next to the window so he could see outside, notice the cookies, crawl back down, move the step stool next to the oven, and then climb up to steal another cookie. Do you see now why his nickname is Stinker??
Weight: 19.5 lbs. (taken on bathroom scale)

Length: 30 inches

Nicknames: Jax, Jacksie Boy, Stinks, Bubby, Baby

Wearing: 12 & 18 month clothes (18 month shirts fit pretty well but the pants are still way too long); Size 3 diapers

Sleep: He'll typically sleeps 3-4 hour stretches before waking us up to be reassured and nursed.. I'm hoping to have him completely weaned in the next two weeks. We usually bring him into bed with us at around 6 and he'll sleep another couple of hours.

Jax likes: His kitty, playing outside, going for walks, anything electronic, Elmo, crafts, playing with friends, showing off, riding in the big part of the grocery cart, pushing around his little shopping cart, snuggling, Facetime, going up and down the stairs, jabbering/answering questions, balloons, people watching, Costco, slides, markers, stickers, and doing the hand motions to songs (Itsy Bitsy Spider, Patty Cake, and If You're Happy & You Know It)

Jax dislikes: Having to sit still for too long, long car rides, sitting in the front part of the grocery cart, diaper changes/getting dressed, when mommy & daddy left him overnight (yep, kids gotta be weaned), having to wait for samples at Costco, and being told no

Food: Favorites are still Greek yogurt, tomatoes, chicken, oatmeal, Belvita Breakfast Biscuits, peanut butter, fries, dip of any kind, veggie straws, snap pea crisps, cheese, and anything sweet.. we're still working on overcoming this (hopefully) phase of picky eating.

Teeth: 4 teeth on bottom, 3 on top, and one about to pop through any day!

Happenings: Family day at the World of Wonder Museum; adopting Bella; lots of park days; first Heritage dinner; Grammy's birthday; lots of playing at the library; MOPS; dinner with Aunt Millie; staying with Grammy & Grandpa when mommy & daddy went to Vegas; second Valentines day; second Ash Wednesday/Lent; visits to Grammy & Grandpas; and several snow days. 

~I'm pretty sure that adopting Bella is one of the best decisions we've ever made! She and Jax absolutely LOVE each other and chase each other around the house and play together. Jackson loves his kitty and we couldn't have found a better one for him!

~Jackson is obsessed with commercials and it is hilarious! He will play during the show and then stop whatever he's doing and speed crawl into the room as soon as he hears a commercial. His favorites are the ones for Hep C, Quicken Loans HARP, and any type of term life insurance.

~Jax is getting to be quite the little helper and enjoys helping mommy clean and do laundry! He also likes helping dad fix and build things (he's always right by his side mimicking whatever Brandon does)! Speaking of mimicking..

..remember last month when I first mentioned his fake smile (that I'm pretty sure he picked up from me)? Well, the other day he was jabbering while we played and I kept asking him to say mamma and he'd respond "Dada?" No.. Mamma. After awhile, he started doing his fake smile and was saying "Dadadadadadadada" as if he was mocking me. Again, do you see why we call him stinker??

~Jackson has started to clasp his hands when we pray before each meal and it is quite possibly the cutest thing ever! Also new this month: Jax is fascinated by family pictures of any kind and likes to point at photos in books and on our gallery walls and have you tell him who everyone is (his favorite is our patriotic wall downstairs--we have service pictures of my Great-Grandpa, Grandpas, one of Brandon's Grandpa, and then one of Brandon. When we get to Brandon's picture, Jax gets the biggest smile and says "Dada!"). 

Friday, February 20, 2015

Give Thanks Friday

If you've been visiting my little corner of the Internet for awhile, you may remember the "Give Thanks Friday" posts I'd do every week (before the Friday Funnies, which I also no longer do.. I need to learn to stick to one thing!). Well, I've decided to bring it back during this Lenten season to help me put things into perspective and to encourage myself to always count my blessings. If you're looking for a little pick-me-up, I encourage you to join me!
Here are 5 things from this week that I am most thankful for:
1.) Since Jackson is sleeping in his crib now, Brandon and I have been going to bed earlier each night and watching a movie & Fallon before going to sleep -- it's a fun way to unwind after a long day and it gives us a chance to just relax, cuddle, and talk. Anyway, our TV was starting to go out and completely died after a few days (which is NOT good when your addicted to "The Tonight Show").. instead of having to go out and fork over a few hundred bucks for a new TV, my genius of a husband figured out how to solder the board and fix it! I'm extremely thankful for my smart and resourceful hubby!
2.) Brandon had Monday off from work and we enjoyed a fun day together as a family! Since it had snowed, we bundled Jax up in his little snowsuit, hat, and gloves and built a snowman, threw snowballs, and just played around in the snow--even Bella got in on the action and (cautiously) walked along the sidewalk while we played. 
3.) Sticking with weather, I'm very grateful for the (mostly) beautiful spring weather we've been enjoying in CO! Jackson and I go for walks, play in the backyard, and venture over to the park almost every afternoon which has been heavenly! I'm so looking forward to this spring and summer with my little nature boy.
4.) I'm so excited that Brandon and I are able to travel quite a bit this year! We just returned home from Vegas and are now getting ready to attend a friend's wedding in Kansas City in a few weeks. I'm still keeping my fingers crossed that we'll get to take another baby less trip (it depends on whether or not Jacksie Boy is weaned by then) but if we don't, it'll still be a blast!*
5.) I'm so excited that Jax will get to grow up visiting grandparents in the country! My parents live just outside of town on 35 acres and have a beautiful back patio and neighbors with horses; Brandon's mom & stepdad have a farm with lots of animals and beautiful acreage; and Brandon's dad and stepmom live outside of Knoxville in a beautiful country club area with lots of trees and lush land.. I'm looking forward to Jackson making lots of fun memories at all of their homes!
This is only a few things I'm thankful for and now it's your turn! Tell me what you're most thankful for.
*Albeit a bit more stressful (with extra packing, flying with baby, etc.) and expensive.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Lenten Reflections

I cannot believe that today is Ash Wednesday!

Can 2015 please slow down just a hair??

Actually, I love Ash Wednesday and the entire Lenten season--it's such a peaceful and joyous time in the Catholic Church (and Christian faith in general) and always leaves my soul feeling renewed and inspired. However, it hasn't always been that way for me and I would give things up for Lent for all the wrong reasons.

In 8th grade, I gave up junk food and pop so I could fit into my cotillion dress.

My senior year of high school, I started running a few times a week so I would look better in my prom dress.

My junior year of college, I gave up drinking on weekdays and cursing (partly for God; partly to break bad habits).

Do you see a pattern here?

How was losing weight so I'd look better in a dress giving glory to God (the Father, Son, & Holy Spirit)? How was being selfish and binge drinking on Sundays really turning away from sin? In short: It wasn't and it was actually driving my heart into a darker place.

During college, I wasn't going to church and probably wasn't making the greatest decisions (I could write it off as being a college student trying to find myself but I'm not going to make excuses). I have always believed in God and have always prayed but was I showing God to those I encountered? Was I being the best Christian I could be?


A few years ago, it finally "clicked" with me; I needed to be a better person and better Catholic. For Lent that year, I picked up my Bible (for the first time in who knows how long) and read a different excerpt each night before bed--I was finished giving up silly things for Lent that weren't bringing me closer to God. Do you want to know something? That was by far the most spiritually fulfilling Lent I had ever experienced.
Last year, I downloaded the Laudate app on my iPhone and dove into the daily scriptures and reflections each night before bed. I also read Fr. Robert Barron's Lenten Reflections every day during Jax's nap and learned so much! And although I vowed to no longer give things up for Lent, I gave up sweets (I have literally no willpower when it comes to sugar) and talked to God every time I had a sugar craving.

I'm looking forward to the start of another Lent and am excited to get closer to God by once again reading from Laudate each night before bed, following along with Fr. Barron's daily reflections, participating in the Love Dare (to help strengthen our sacrament of Matrimony), reading from The American Catholic Almanac (review coming soon), and by once again starting my "Thankful Friday" post here on the blog (I find that reflecting on and writing out all of my greatest blessings helps me to appreciate them even more).

I'm so excited to begin this Holy season of Lent and pray that you all have a blessed 40 days and 40 nights.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

V-Day with the S-meiers

Is it just me or do holidays get to be more fun when you have kids?

I've never been a huge fan of Valentines (it's up there with Halloween) but since having Jax, I've been wanting to start fun Valentine traditions complete with decor, treats, and lots of love.

This year did not disappoint!

We started our Valentine weekend on Thursday with the 2nd annual tagging of Brandon's car--last year, tiny 2 month old Jax and I drove over to Brandon's work, found his car, and surprised him by hiding balloons, snacks, and love notes inside. This year, we did the same (only it wasn't really a surprise since I couldn't find his car anywhere and finally had to call to ask him where he parked, ha).

Surprise or not, we had a lot of fun picking out snacks, balloons, and decorated cards to give Brandon!
Gifts for my guys: Brandon gets the snacks, Jax gets the balloons.
On Friday evening, Jax & I ran over to Krispy Kreme to pick up breakfast, Brandon & I exchanged gifts (he gave me a beautiful mothers necklace and I gave him a nice frame to display his poker chips in), and then Brandon made a midnight run to Walmart to pick up some Children's Benadryl to give to our poor, congested allergy boy. Luckily, Jax was doing better by Saturday morning and we spent the day eating donuts, cleaning out & organizing the garage, attending church, visiting my brother at work, Facetiming with Brandon's dad & step-mom in Tennessee, pigging out on calzones & cheese fries, and laying in bed watching SNL. 
Can we start every Saturday like this?
Headed to church with Full & Fun Sized Brandon (Jax and I had to wear red!)

It was truly a perfect day and reminded me that I am so blessed to be living this life with my two guys (and kitty). I can't wait until next Valentine's when Jax is a little bit older and can get into the festivities a bit more..

..actually, I take that back! The time goes by too quickly as it is so I can wait until next year.
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