Catapult your day into a slimmer, happier you!

Happy New Year everyone!! Can you believe it’s 2018?! I can’t. Life is going by way quicker than I’d like it to, but, in the spirit of New Years, let’s talk New Years resolutions! Statistically speaking, most of you will make a resolution for a “healthier you” in some form or fashion. It may be that you are resolving to eat healthier, to lose some weight, or to start excercizing. Well, this post is created to help you!
I have one simple tip for you that will no doubt help you lose some weight, get more nutrition in your diet, and motivate you to eat healthier the rest of the day. Introducing…the breakfast smoothie. Replace it with whatever you eat for breakfast (you do eat breakfast, don’t you? Please don’t skip this meal!), and set the tone for a healthy day. I make this smoothie, or a version of it (depending on what I have stocked in the kitchen) every morning. After I have a baby, I usually eat eggs for breakfast to get my milk supply up, but after a couple months, back to the smoothie I go. (I also discovered that I am allergic to eggs, so I’ve created this in such a way that it will keep milk supply up if you are a nursing mama like I am). I truly see the weight begin to drop off when I make the switch to my morning smoothie, but I don’t in any way feel deprived because it is loaded with healthy fats and fiber. I also find that when I start my day this way, I feel lighter and have more energy because it’s easy on digestion (it also helps that it gets you moving in the direction of the porceline throne, if you know what I mean. Hello fiber!)… Ahem, anyway, another added benefit is I desire to eat healthier for the next meal as well, so I like that it has a domino effect on my food choices. All these wonderful effects on my day just because of one simple change!
My kids love it too! My two year old comes running into the kitchen every morning as I’m whizzing it up yelling, “mom, I want smoothie too”! What a great way to get loaded nutrition into little growing bodies. I hope you all try this out as you step into 2018. I decided last minute to make a video to show you how I make mine. It’s spontaneous and you may laugh at some parts, but, hey, this motherhood thing never looks perfect, so I’m not even going to try! If it helps you make this healthier change, then it’s all worth it.

My Morning Smoothie: (some links are provided)
1 C water
1 Tbs MCT oil NOW MCT 100% Oil, 32-Ounce
Large handful of fresh or frozen greens (if you are out of greens, add a couple Tbs of green powder)
½-1 C of frozen berries
1-2 Tbs flax seeds Bob’s Red Mill Whole Flaxseed, 24 Ounce
Protein Powder (I like bone broth protein powder, or vegetable based. If you can handle whey, you could use that)I use this one…Ancient Nutrition Bone Broth Protein Powder, Pure Flavor, 20 Servings Size
Collagen Powder (this will add some protein too, but I use it mainly to support my joints and skin) I use this one…Dr. Axe Multi-Collagen Protein Powder – High-Quality Blend of Grass-Fed Beef, Chicken, Wild Fish and Eggshell Collagen Peptides, Providing Type I, II, III, V and X – Formerly Dr. Collagen or this one is is good too and cheaper..Great Lakes Gelatin Collagen Hydrolysate Beef, Kosher, 16 oz.

1 tsp maca powder (this stuff is amazing for many things, but for me it is a great mood booster and supports my adrenals. Also known to boost libido…just sayin’) Navitas Organics Maca Gelatinized Powder, 4 Ounce
Roughly 1 C coconut or almond milk (the amount will be up to you depending on how thick you like it. If you are using frozen greens, you will need more liquid)
¼ avocado if you have it on hand
Optional ¼ C frozen okra (you will not taste this, but it will turn your smoothie into a creamy milk shake texture if that’s what you like, as well as adding lots of nutrition)

Throw it all in your blender and give it a good whiz. I use a Vitamix because that thing can puree anything. No chunks here! Vitamix 5200 Blender, Black
Throw it in a glass that makes you feel strong and powerful (wink!), and enjoy! I have been known to drink this out of a wine glass on those mornings where I wake up and stumble my way into the kitchen feeling like Cinderella. Somehow washing dishes while I sip on a healthy smoothie from a wine glass makes life feel a little more fun. I know, sounds crazy, but just try it, you may be surprised.

Cheers to a slimmer, happier you in 2018!

  • Update-I had a friend text me this morning that she couldn’t stand all the seeds in the smoothie.  As we talked about it, we think that maybe it had to do with the blackberries. She noticed that in the kind she bought the blackberries were huge (which would equate to huge seeds!).  I have had this happen before with some brands of berries, so if you find this is the case for you, you could pick out the blackberries before you throw it all together, or you could nix the mixed berries and just buy a bag of just frozen blueberries.  (This will be higher in sugars, but not as high as a banana!)  Hope this helps for any of you that don’t like the seeds!!

Let’s Play Today!

Todays post is all about having fun with your kids! It is cold and snowy here, so I am always looking for fun things to do inside. Here is just one of many to come…Homemade play dough!!! Why homemade, you ask? Because it is far superior to the store-bought in cost and texture, and it doesn’t stick onto clothes and furniture, or stain like the store bought stuff. I also love that it gets the kids in the kitchen doing good ol’ hands on learning. In addition, if my kids eat some, no biggie! I know exactly what’s in it! There is no baking, and you can whip this up in five minutes for something quick if the kids are getting stir crazy in the house. So here is my favorite homemade recipe for you to try. I found it at theimaginationtree.com. It’s so easy that now big sister makes it, and it’s so fun that everyone plays with it!

Here’s what you need:

2 cups white all-purpose flour
2 Tbs oil (I usually use olive oil, but today I used avocado. Any vegetable oil would be fine, just NOT coconut)
½ cup salt
2 Tbs cream of tartar
1 ½ cups boiling water
Food coloring (we do not eat food dyes, but I keep it on hand for stuff like this)

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Easy To Make Instructions:
1) Mix the flour, salt, cream of tartar and oil together in large bowl. Little hands can help pour all these in after you’ve measured. Bigger kids can be the ones measuring it all out. Math lesson!
2) Boil your water on the stove, and then add the dye to the water. Let the kids pick what color they want and talk about what colors you need to combine to make that color. Art lesson!
3) Add the hot colored water into the bowl with dry ingredients. Make sure little hands stay away from the bowl as you pour. Lesson in not touching hot water! Seriously, my two-year old learned it today. She’s okay, but now she knows to lean back while hot water is being poured.
4) Stir it all together until it is combined. The dough will be a bit sticky at this point. Again, if you are having little hands help mix, make sure it is cool enough before they help.
5) Allow it to cool. Then you will want to knead it on the counter until all the stickiness is gone. Do this until it is the perfect consistency.
6) Get out your play dough toys or cookie cutters and let them play! Even my twelve-year-old likes to sit with the youngsters and play!
7) When they are all finished, put it in a container and store it in the refrigerator. This should last you several more play times.

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There is so much learning going on in their little brains when they play with play dough, so I always offer this as one of the first things to let my two-year old do every morning after breakfast. She is very, very hands on, so this saves my house from being destroyed and Mommy from going crazy. I also will give her a small ball of it to play with in her hands while we read books, if I’m trying to do some school with the other kids, or I just need her to sit down and chill for a little while. Tell me I’m not the only one with a child like this! Haha!!
I hope you and your children enjoy making this…and hey, why don’t you take a break, Mama, and sit down and play with them. I promise you that ten years from now you will not wish you had cleaned more dishes or done more laundry. Nope, do what matters most today and play!

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Ticket To Ride

This has been a busy, and to be honest stressful week for me, as I’m sure it has been for many of you. But last night was a little peek into some of the joy that Christmas brings.  I hope this blesses you and your family like it did us…

Last night my children had what would arguably be the best ride around the town they’ve ever had.  It wasn’t so much what they did, as the experience with friends that made it so memorable. A couple weeks ago my friend Tricia asked if we would be interested in our kids joining them in a family tradition. Every year on a special night at Christmas time, they take their kids around town to see Christmas lights in “The Christmas Express”, which really means a totally decked out version of their own van, with Dad dressed up as a different chauffeur each year.

Tricia has six kids, and we have five, and she is my friend that is super organized and pays attention to details. I aspire to be like her because I am a “big picture, who cares about details” kind of gal. I can use more Tricia in my life. So, in her unique way, she prepared for this night with flare. She printed tickets on gold paper, laminated them, and gave them to me ahead of time so I could give them to the kids. The plan was they would come and pick the kids up in their van around 8:00PM and the dads would take the children around town looking at the lights together while they chatted about what kids chat about and munched on popcorn and drank hot cocoa!

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So, the day finally arrived, and I decided to hide their tickets inside their stockings. We did our normal bedtime routine around 7:45, and sent the kids up to tuck themselves in. We waited a few minutes until they were all in their rooms and then Kevin went up in the hallway and said, “guys, I think Santa actually came early and put something in your stockings, so why don’t you come down and look.” The kids looked at him with confusion, as we don’t do Santa in our house (hey-before you judge me, we still do presents and all the other Christmas stuff, but I just never had the heart to play along with it all. Don’t worry, we tell them not to tell your kids!) So, they cautiously went downstairs and checked their stockings. Inside was a golden ticket with their name on it to a ride in “The Christmas Express”!  They read what it said, and they were still totally in the dark as to what was going on, but there was anticipation growing in the air. “Alright, everyone has to be in pj’s!”, I said.  They ran upstairs and came back down in a flash. “Okay, get your coats and boots on!” At this point, they had smiles plastered to their faces, and they were asking us what they were going to get to do. We walked out into the crisp, cold air and stood on the driveway.  After a minute or two, I said to them, “something is going to happen…”, and they looked all around in the quiet. About a minute later, our friends came sailing down the road with Christmas music blaring. The sight reminded me of a cartoon! This big black Nissan NV flying around the corner, Christmas music spilling out of it, colorful Christmas lights strung along the inside, and children’s giddy voices breaking the quiet night. “That’s it!” my oldest shouted. He recognized the van as our friends van. As they pulled up, our friends honked the horn, and our kids started jumping up and down and lots of shouts went up. They had decked out their van, and it was nothing short of awesome. Tricia’s husband Josh jumped out, “tickets! tickets! Where’s your tickets?!!”, and simultaniously their kids flew out of the van to jump all over our kids and hug them.  He pulled out a hole punch, punched the kids tickets, handed it back to them and told them they need it to get in their seats. Tricia jumped out the other side of the van with a basket full of boxes she had made for each child filled with treats. They all filed in and found their seat next to their friend, and wouldn’t have been able to wipe the smiles off their faces even if you asked them to. It was great to see them so happy.

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And as fast as the big van flew into our driveway it flew back out again, this time with the Dads in the front seats. Tricia and I stayed back at our house to chat over Christmas cookies and tea while one baby slept and the other played at our feet. (It was quiet and lovely. I think we got the better end of the deal-wink!)

They were gone for almost two hours driving around to experience the Christmas lights, all the while snacking on popcorn, pretzels, and hot cocoa, chatting away with their friends. When they came back they were filled to the brim with the joy that children have at Christmas time. You know…joy. Like, the joy that kids can bubble up with out of nowhere. I’ve learned that children don’t need much to be overwhelmed with joy.

Don’t you sometimes wish you had more joy? I know I do. I struggle with that. When I was about sixteen I was diagnosed with depression. I don’t know if I really did have depression or if I was just stuck in the muck of being a teenager. Regardless, that word labeled me for a while. I went on medication, but also dove into God’s Word to see what He had for my life. As I searched His Word, I saw it. I saw that there were scriptures about joy all over the place. And that He was the one that restores joy. “In Your presence is fullness of joy”, Psalm 16:11. “You turned my wailing to dancing, you clothed me with joy, that my heart may sing your praises”, Psalm 30:11-12.  I wanted to have the joy of a child again so bad. I went off the meds a few years later. I’m not sure I really needed them in the first place. What I do know I needed was lots and lots of booster shots from God’s Word (of course I have to put a disclaimer here: if you are suffering from depression, please DO see a Dr and get on anti-depressants if that’s what you think you need. I will have more posts on this subject since it is close to my heart). These days it’s not very often that I feel overcome with depression, (thank the Lord) but when it comes knocking on my door, I go to God.  I now KNOW that in His presence is fullness of joy.  But I also think that God knows life is really hard, and He has put a sweet deposit of joy into our children. And I love when I see it spill out. It’s like, “yes! They still have it.” Like the bell in The Polar Express that rang for the children but faded as they grew older, joy seems to fade as we get older. I don’t like that. I wish it didn’t, but it seems like the pressures and demands of life sit right on top of joy and squish it right down to the likes of an unrecognizable deflated soccer ball. If you feel that way this Christmas season, I leave you with two challenges. One, take your kids out this week to look at the lights. Send them up to bed like usual, and then surprise them. Tell them to pile in the car, have some hot (warm for safety!) cocoa ready, and some other treat, and start driving.  Maybe even pick up some friends along the way! They will love it, and they will probably remember it forever. And two, don’t check joy at the door of adulthood. Make time in life for the things that make you feel like a kid again. Think back to it. That feeling where life felt just amazing. Pray that God will bring your joy back. Pray that He will give you ideas of how to awaken it.  He will.  And as you drive your children or grandchildren around, watch their faces light up, and try to match their excitement. It may feel weird, but just try. You may surprise yourself…and them too!

Living In The Mess

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Have you ever found yourself saying the words “I feel like all I ever do is pick up messes!”? I know I certainly have many times over. With five active, boisterous children, there are bound to be daily messes. Some days, it has felt like a life sentence!

Today was one of those “messy days”…I woke up after a short nights sleep, came downstairs after nursing the baby and saw that the two year old was already awake and roaming around. Oh boy, this could mean trouble, so I quickly circle the downstairs but don’t see anything out of the ordinary. “Wow, not too bad”, I think, “she didn’t really make any messes!”  I take her pullup off of her, saying “time to use the big girl potty if you have to go”, as we are in the throes of potty training over here (yay!…said very, very sarcastically).  I busily begin making breakfast, slightly stumbling around after that short nights sleep I mentioned, when out of the corner of my eye, I see her walking like a stiff legged mummy toward me. I look at her with one eyebrow raised, “what’s wrong, Love?” “Mommy, I went poopoo in my pants.”  Oh boy.  What that means is its probably all down her leg and coming out the bottom of her pants because I didn’t run back upstairs to put underware on her yet.  Great.  Third time this week. “Oh, Love, you have to tell Mommy when you have to go poopoo and we run to the potty….. remember?” I was trying so hard not to get upset because I know that only sets you back with potty training, but on the inside I was sooooo not happy. “Okay, shuffle to the bathroom, let’s get you cleaned off”. Now I’m trying to figure the easiest way to do this. The exact same thing happened a couple mornings ago, but she was wearing old pj’s that I didn’t care about, so truth be told, I just cut them off of her so I didn’t have to slide the pants down and spread “it” everywhere. This morning, I loved the pj’s she was wearing. So, I got her cleaned up as best I could, all the while balancing on one leg while the other leg is holding the baby back. He crawled in the bathroom too and was wanting to be right up in all the action. This was when I wished my older two were home so I could ask them to help hold him, but they spent the night at a friends house, and my seven year old had a friend over and they were sleeping in. But, I did it, one legged and all, and I kept the baby out of the mess. Phew! I took the dirty pants into the laundry room, rinsed them off in the sink, and threw them in the wash. As I close the door to the washer, I glance at the top of the washer and dryer and notice that my laundry baskets are overflowing, so much so that one of the baskets has busted. What a mess! I take a deep breath, pray the pants get clean, and head back to the kitchen to start breakfast. As I wash my hands off at the kitchen sink, I look at a picture frame that sits on my window ledge with a quote that I placed in it the other day. It says “Living in the mess. Life doesn’t come in neat little packages. But that’s okay-God works in and through the mess to make something beautiful”. I smile, remembering why I put that quote there. I found it last week in a homeschooling magazine I was reading. It was one of those quotes that just jumped off the page at me because it spoke to me. This morning, it was shouting to me. And little did I know, two hours later it would minister to me once more when she would poop her pants AGAIN.

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Friends, life is full of messes. In all honesty, at my house I feel like I am constantly walking into or over a mess all day long. I can’t get away from it. God has shown me though, that the only way to get away from all messes is to get away from people. (and yes, you make your own messes too, but I know, I know, yours pail in comparison to others-wink!)

Our life goal should certainly not be to steer clear of all messes. Remember, what was one of the first words out of God’s mouth after He created Adam? “It is not good for man to be alone.” So He made Eve. Then He told them to multiply and fill the earth. People, people, and more people. Which really means messes, messes, and more messes. People=messes. But you see, it’s not good for us to be alone. We were designed to be living life with people. It’s woven throughout our DNA because your Creator put it there. I know it can be so tiring and frustrating to be cleaning up messes all day long. Believe me-I know. The food the toddler spills on their shirt, the messy hands after meals, the toys scattered all over the house, the crafts that get accidentally glued to the kitchen table, the silly putty that gets stretched out and strung across the carpet, the sharpy that was scribbled across the white chair(thank you Magic Eraser!), the socks that get taken off feet and found all over the house, homework papers everywhere, markers with no marker caps, toothpaste smeared on the counter…I could go on and on and on. And this is just before 10AM! But friends, who is making all these messes? I’ll tell you who. Future Kings and Queens of Heaven. God’s children. Beautiful, tiny little hands and feet that walk this earth looking to you to help them. And they will only be with you a short time. There is an expiration date to raising your children, and I can guarantee you when that expiration date hits, there will be lots of tears. So, choose to enjoy living in the mess while there are people in your home to be making the mess. Heck-embrace it. Why not, right? I’m not saying let your house be a garbage dump. No one can live in that. What I am saying is, let them be kids. And allow yourself to be their Mommy. Join them in their mess. Play with them while they still want to play with you, instead of following them around cleaning up after them all day and barking orders at them. And when the play is over, teach them to help you clean it all up (and teach those olders to pick up their own socks and homework!).  If you have children that are older, go sit on their bedroom floor while you have them clean up their room and talk with them. Kids will open up better when they have something they are doing, opposed to you sitting staring at them. Have them help you do the dishes and clean the floor, and talk together. Embrace the mess, and embrace the clean-up. These are opportunities to bond with your children.

So, what if the messes you face this Christmas season aren’t physical messes? Maybe you feel like your life is just a mess. You feel you’ve made a mess of your marriage, your finances, job, or friendships. God can fix that too. If you let Him. He’s really, really good at cleaning up our messes…He’s your Heavenly Father, so He does a way better job at taking care of us than we do of our children. Humble yourself before Him, talk to Him about the mess you’ve made, and ask Him to help you clean it up. It may take time, and everyone’s road to recovery looks different. Do you know that the Bible is full of people who made messes of their lives? And God made it that way so that we can learn from them. That way we can read their stories and go, “I don’t want to make that mistake”. Also, so we can read their stories and go “look at how God turned their life around after they brought their mess to Him and asked for His help”.  The Bible is a teaching manual. Pick it up and read it. It’s the only book in the world that is actually alive because God Himself speaks through it to us.

If you feel as if someone else has made the mess you are in, lock arms with God and pray. Reach out to others who can carry you through this time. But most importantly, stay close to God because only He can make your life beautiful again. Psalm 103 verse 4 says that He is the one “who redeems your life from destruction”.  That word redeem in the original Hebrew means “to buy back”. It is used 104 times in the Bible and frequently used of God when He is redeeming men out of slavery or bondage. He is GOOD at redeeming our lives from destruction (a.k.a. messes) – if we ask Him to.

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So fast forward the clock to 4PM, and I’m in the kitchen making dinner stepping over all the pots and pans that Jude has pulled out of the cupboards. I cut open a squash to cook, and Janelle says “Mom, can I play with the seeds?” I always roast the seeds for us to eat, so I usually let her play with them and wash them off. My brain was formulating the words, “just please don’t make a mess”, when I stopped myself… “Sure, Love, here you go”, and I slid the bowl of slimy squash seeds over to her. I watched her tiny hands play with those seeds for a half hour, and I must have smiled a dozen times. Watching her play brought me happiness, and God did something in my heart. He made something beautiful through the messes of my day. An appreciation for my family and the tiny hands before me. Did the seeds end up all over the counter, chair, and floor? Yes they did. Did she enjoy herself? Every moment of it. Did I feel it was worth letting her make the mess? Yes…every minute of it.

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Friends, ask God to help you change your perspective on the messes you clean up in your home. Those little (and big) bodies won’t be there forever. And for those of you with your hands in the mess, take those hands and lift them up to Heaven and ask Him to make something beautiful out of it. Trust me when I say that your life is worth being beautiful.

Hugs from my house to yours…

Christmas Anticipation

 

DSC_0942“It’s the most wonderful time of the year”! Can’t you hear it playing? I grew up listening to this song every Christmas season when my mom would pull out the 1963 Andy Williams Christmas album(and by album I mean a good old record!). My Moms parents loved to sing and were musical, so I grew up with lots of records around when I was little and never a moment without some kind of music playing in the background. This song brings joy to my heart every time I hear it because it reminds me of the anticipation that comes with Christmas. Anticipation of playing in new fallen snow, making Christmas cookies, shoveling the driveway until feet and hands were numb and sipping hot cocoa afterward, presents under the tree, Christmas Eve candle lit church service, and Christmas morning. Oh glorious Christmas morning! Waking up and realizing that its the day and coming out of the bedroom to the sweet smell of breakfast cooking. Spending the morning tearing through beautifully wrapped packages all while lounging in our pj’s and just being with each other.

So, I find it perfectly fitting to start this blog at Christmas time. With much anticipation, I begin writing and sharing our life. The life God has called me to live with my hot husband, and five precious babies. (OK I lied, they aren’t all babies-but my husband IS hot!) I’m not sure what presents will be unwrapped through this blog. Some neatly packaged, some not. But I pray that they are presents to you. We need more encouragement and positivity in our culture. We need more support in our culture-especially between women. I hope to bring you those things through sharing tidbits of my life with you.

Speaking of presents, my Mom just gave us a little, but special present when she was here a couple weeks ago. Something that came from her house that she only sets out at Christmas time. It’s this little house that plugs in and lights up all different colors. It’s quite mesmerizing to look at, and my children always love gazing at it in a dimly lit room. It’s spent it’s Christmases at Grandma and Grandpa’s house…until this year. When she pulled it out of the bag for them, she said, “I think this house needs to stay with you where you guys can enjoy it all Christmas season.” My kids were so excited to see the little magical house be pulled out of the bag. We plugged it in and watched the little lights come on, and as we looked it over, my daughter Vienna said, “I just want to go inside so bad!” And to her response, I said, “I know- I do too!”

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I pray that this blog would be that little house to you. May you be drawn to the light that shines in our home. More than that, Id like to invite you to come inside! I hope to inspire and encourage you in motherhood, marriage, spiritual matters, health, wellness, homeschooling, and everyday life. I desire to link arms with you and help you to enjoy the family God has given you, even though each day is not Christmas morning, or neatly wrapped up packages.

I sit here as I type with a crackling fire roaring next to me in the fireplace(weeellll, its actually gas, so its not roaring or crackling, but its hot. Oh-kind of like my husband(wink!)). Speaking of him again, he is dozing on the couch next to me, and behind him is our beautifully lit Christmas tree. The tree that all seven of us hiked out into the back of a tree farm to pick out and cut down on a cold morning. The tree that my children and I decorated together. The tree that tilts a little, has ornaments hanging in random clusters, and is bare near the bottom so the cats and baby can’t pull them off. The tree that is covered in ornaments that I made as a child, or adorned my childhood trees, as well as ornaments that my children made with pictures of their sweet little faces on them. They are falling apart yet every year I pull out the tape to fix them again. It’s not the Pottery Barn Christmas tree and would be rejected by every store catalog, but its our tree and the kids love it. They love pulling out the ornament box every year, filled with anticipation, and unwrapping each one and exclaiming, “oh I remember this one! Mom, remember this one?! I looove this one!” Ahh, the anticipation. So, I rest in the anticipation of where this blog might take us. I hope and pray that it takes us somewhere good, hopeful, inspirational, and warm…kind of like the room I’m sitting in right now. May it draw you to delight in the treasures of life. May it bring you peace in the craziness of life. And may it inspire you to not look perfect like the Pottery Barn trees out there, but to live authentically like your unique Christmas tree.

God gave us all unique fingerprints, and with those fingers we have all created our own unique Christmas trees. I hope you know this Christmas season that you are a one of a kind creation made by the Creator Himself.  He’s crazy about you. He truly is. May that truth this Christmas season settle into your heart in a new way. God’s got good things for you. Anticipate it. Until next time…