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)
  • 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!


Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Jackson's 7 Month Update

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

Where has this month gone??


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.


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. 


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!

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Thumb Print Tea Cookies

Have I ever mentioned how much I love tea and anything tea related?

I have?

Oh (Was it the tea party bridal shower that gave it away?).

Anyway, today I'm sharing a sweet, buttery, and oh so crumbly thumb (fork) print cookie that's perfect for your next tea party, special occasion, or crummy Monday.

Adapted from All Recipes
Yields 5 dozen cookies
  •  1 1/2 cups butter, softened
  • 2 cups white sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 5 cups all purpose flour
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. salt
  1. In a large bowl, cream together butter and sugar until smooth. Beat in eggs and vanilla. Stir in the flour, baking powder, and salt. Cover, and chill dough for at least one hour (or overnight).
  2. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C). Shape cookie dough into balls. Place cookies 1 inch apart on ungreased cookie sheets. Dent each cookie with thumb.
  3. Bake 6 to 8 minutes in preheated oven. Cool completely.
Serve these thumb (err.. fork) print cookies with a cup of black tea and enjoy!

Monday, July 14, 2014

Baby Food Bonanza

Well, it finally happened.

Jackson turned 6 months old and continues to get older and older (against his mama's wishes)..

..psh, kids.

Jax's doctor told us at his 4-month well check that we could start him on solids whenever but I just wasn't ready for that he just didn't seem ready at that point; he'd been thriving on a diet of breast milk alone so solids didn't seem necessary. Anyway, I'd decided that 6-months seemed like a good time to start him on purees, so that's when we began.

These past few weeks have definitely been an adventure.. a messy, messy adventure.
Mmm.. pureed carrots (and on an unrelated note, whoever came up with the idea of dividing up/storing baby food in ice cube trays is a freaking genius)!
I decided right off the bat that I wanted to make Jax's food because:
  1. Pre-made baby food is expensive and I am cheap.
  2. I have control over what goes into his food--the pureed carrots are straight up organic carrots and water (no added salt, sugars, artificial enhancers, etc.).
  3. The foods are kind of fun to make! Upon the suggestion of another mamma (the fabulous Ruthie Hart), I have been using Wholesome Baby Food for recipes and tips--it's so simple, convenient, and so far I'm loving it!
What does Jax think of solid foods, you ask?
(Clockwise from top right: Banana, pretzel, Organic Greek yogurt)
Loves: Banana, Greek yogurt, salt off pretzels, pickles
Meh: Carrots, Greek yogurt w/carrot mixed in
Hates: Sweet peas, organic green beans, watermelon

So yeah... we're not off to the best start in the healthy green vegetable department (he must take after his dad?) but we're working on it! Jax enjoys "helping" me feed him (refer to picture of him w/Greek yogurt) and thinks he's such a big boy eating solids. I'm looking forward to continuing on this exciting new journey with my little guy.. I just wish the time wasn't going by so dang quickly! 

What foods did you start your baby on? Any tips for this first timer? I need all the help I can get!

P.S. We need a high chair. Pronto. Off to Target I go! 

Friday, July 11, 2014

Friday Funnies

No need to adjust your screens, folks..

..the Funnies are indeed here again!

Since I'm getting back into my blogging groove, I figured it's time to bring back the FFs.

Enjoy these summer themed Memes & eCards--I'll see you back here on Monday!
That's my kind of camping!
This is how I felt about summers in humid Kansas!

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

T.L.C. VoxBox

Disclaimer: I am a member of Influenster and received free products in exchange for this review. All thoughts and opinions are 100%  my own.

I was so excited to receive my TLC VoxBox before heading out on our big road trip--it came packed with so many things that were perfect to take along in my purse!

Wanna take a peek at the goods?

Breyers Gelato Indulgences (available at most stores)
Savor a trio of textures in four indulgent varieties: Vanilla Caramel, Raspberry Cheescake, Tiramisu, and Triple Chocolate.

It's a good thing I decided to take my free Breyers Gelato Indulgences coupon on the trip or I probably would have eaten the whole tub by myself at home.. this stuff is amazing!! We decided on the Vanilla Caramel Gelato and it was so soft, creamy, and delicious.. definitely the best store bought gelato I've ever tasted. This is definitely a purchase I will make again (and you should too)!
Would I recommend this product to a friend? Oooh yeah (especially if you love being happy).

Ivory Bar Soap ($3.97 for 10 bars; available at Walmart)
Original Ivory Bar Soap uses a simple, pure formula to help you get clean without any unneeded additives or heavy perfumes. This soap is 99.44% pure, so much so that it floats on water for easy handling in the bath.
I love Ivory soap! Isn't the smell of it just so nostalgic? It always reminds me of visiting my Grandma & Grandpa Wernsman's when I was a kid.. Ivory soap is convenient to use and perfect to take on the road--I have it packed away for our next big trip! 
Would I recommend this product to a friend? Yes.

Neosporin to Go ($6.99; available at Walgreens)
No touch, no sting spray that fits anywhere to give you infection protection, plus pain relief, on the go. - See more at:
No touch, no sting spray that fits anywhere to give you infection protection, plus pain relief, on the go. - See more at:
No touch, no sting spray that fits anywhere to give you infection protection, plus pain relief, on the go. - See more at:
 No touch, no sting spray that fits anywhere to give you infection protection, plus pain relief, on the go.

This baby goes everywhere with my (human) baby and me--I love how compact this Neo to Go is and that it fits easily into my purse. While we were on our trip, I developed a gnarly hangnail and used my Neo to Go to help treat it. The hangnail was gone within two days. Coincidence? I think not.
 Would I recommend this product to a friend? Yes.

AVON Anew Reversalist Express Wrinkle Smoother ($30; available at Avon)
INTRODUCING ANEW REVERSALIST Complete Renewal Express Wrinkle Smoother, a finishing cream-to-powder skincare perfector in a portable compact, for application over moisturizer or makeup. Instantly reduces the look of any type of wrinkle on the forehead, crows feet, and eye area.
I actually gave this one to my mom. While I do have crows feet, I probably wouldn't use this product.. However, my mom really likes it! She said it goes on smooth, works instantly, and dramatically reduced the appearance of lines and wrinkles. 
Would I recommend this product to a friend? My Mom Does!

Shell Fuel Rewards (N/A; available at Shell Fuel stations)
Basically, the Shell Fuel Rewards card is a membership savings club like King Soopers (Kroger, Dillons, City Market, etc.) or Safeway. What's awesome about it is that you can earn rewards by dining out, shopping, etc., and you're guaranteed to save $.25 a gallon the second time you use your card. Cool, huh? With gas prices soaring, this is the perfect time to join! 
Would I recommend this product to a friend? Yes.

Puffs Plus to Go ($.49; available at Target)
Pack up and go, but don't leave your Puffs Purse Packs behind. Small yet mighty, they're always ready for touch-ups, pick-me-ups and life's little midhaps. Puffs is the only national brand dermatologist tested to be gentle.
Puffs Plus to Go are a must have during allergy season (or with a drooly, teething baby)! They are easy to grab and sooth even the reddest of noses.
 Would I recommend this product to a friend? Yes.

Overall, I was pleased with the contents of the TLC VoxBox--the items are all very practical and will get good use! Interested in becoming an Influenster? Visit or hit me up for an invitation! 

No touch, no sting spray that fits anywhere to give you infection protection, plus pain relief, on the go. - See more at:

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

The Great Kansas Tour

You guys! It's time for the final part of my great summer vacation story (AKA Jax's 1st road trip)! But first..

ICYMI: Here's Part 1 (The Great Tornado of 2014), Part 2 (Les Mis(souri) and the Prettiest Wedding Ever), Part 3 (Handsome Branson), and Part 4 (Jackson's 1st Haircut) of our vacation.

We packed up and left my Uncle Denny and Aunt Jean's early Thursday morning and headed for Brandon's mom's new house (she recently moved to the country and this was our first time seeing her since she and her boyfriend bought their house)! As usual, I'll let the bullet points and pictures tell the rest of the story. 

  • Bid my parents & brother farewell as they headed home to Colorado. 
  • Ate breakfast, drank coffee, and visited with Aunt Jean before hitting the road to Brandon's mom's house.
  • Stopped in a small town to feed/change Jax, grabbed lunch at a hole in the wall cafe (I ordered a sandwich and they were out of bread.. so Brandon and I both ordered calzones and heard "Does anyone here actually know how to make a calzone?!" come from the kitchen), and got back on the road. 
  • Arrived at Mamma Nanc's house, unpacked, and relaxed a bit before Nancy and Russell arrived.
  • Greeted Britney (Brandon's sister), Benny, & Sara (our niece and nephew) and visited/played.
  • Headed into town with Nancy, Brandon, and Jax to pick up a few things at Walmart. 
  • Dinner, drinks, and lots of Apples to Apples. 
For not knowing how to make a calzone, they did a pretty good job!
Cousin Benny holding Jackson--both kids were so good (and gentle!) with their cousin!
Sara LOVED her baby cousin and kept trying to grab & hold him--he yanked out a handful of her hair at one point (poor sweet girl!) and she was still really gentle with him.
Love these two!
Cuddles with Nana.
This boy loves his Aunt Britney!
  • Slept in, enjoyed coffee & breakfast, and sat around visiting with the gang.
  • Antiquing & thrifting around town.
  • Back to the house for more Apples to Apples, naps, and visiting. 
  • Said goodbye to Britney, Benny, & Sara as they headed home. 
  • Dinner, relaxing, and even more A2A (Apples to Apples). 
Sleeping in.
No family resemblance whatsoever!
Nana is so fun!
Nana and her (uncooperative) babies.
The 3 Amigos.
  • Woke up, sipped coffee, and visited. 
  • Fed (and fed and fed) growth spurt baby & gabbed with Mamma Nancy while Brandon & Russell moved furniture and boxes from the old house. 
  • Said our goodbyes and headed to Hays to visit friends. 
  • Jax & I met up with some of my old girlfriends (and Brandon met up with some of his friends) at our beloved Gella's.
  • Headed back to the hotel with Jax for bath and HGTV.
  • Bed.
Sleeping in.. again!
Jackson and his buddy, Sam. This is the first time that Jax has been around other babies and he LOVED it (funny story on next picture)!
Jax with his friends Hannah (3 months) & Sam (5 months)--and mommy with her friends Kelly & Becca :). When we first arrived at the restaurant, Jax was playing in his car seat and I was holding a sleeping Hannah, showed her to Jax and said how pretty she is. As I was saying it, Jax was ignoring me, clutching his (toy) rosary, and being really sweet--my friend Allison and I were cracking up and saying how he was going to be a priest someday and I was bragging about how "that's my son." Anyway, fast forward about an hour and a half (while we were getting ready to leave) and all three of the babies were tired and fussy--Jax and Hannah were facing each other crying and flailing their arms and Jax grabbed her dress and pulled it up.. that's Brandon's son!

Gah I miss these girls!
We hit the road early the next morning and arrived back home to Denver at around 4pm (which wasn't too bad considering how many stops we had to make). Jackson's first vacation was perfect and we all had such a wonderful time--I just wish it hadn't gone by so quickly! 

My mom, Jax, and I will be (hopefully) hitting the road again later this month to visit family in Kansas and then Brandon, Jax, and I will be flying to Knoxville over Labor Day weekend to visit Brandon's dad and step mom--hooray for family vacations!
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