Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Menu Monday on Tuesday

Another Menu Monday, well at this point its Tuesday, I promise I will post something different soon. I’m hoping to put together some tips for other work at home Mom’s and non-moms too, on how to overcome certain downfalls of working at home. But for now… here is our weekly menu and a slight update on where I am with my goals for 2014:

Monday: Chicken Stove Top Casserole

This is seriously the easiest dish I ever make, my mom used to make it for us when I was growing up, and now – I see why. You’ll need 2 Chicken Breasts (or 3 depending on your family – for us four, two works just fine) 8oz or so of Shredded Cheddar Cheese, Cream of Chicken, and Stove Top Stuffing. Boil the chicken breasts in lightly salted water. Drain and cut up into pieces. Bite size works best, nothing too big. Cream of chicken mixed with ½ a can of milk. Put chicken in a casserole dish, and the cream of chicken on top. Mixed steamable frozen veggies (or fresh ones – whichever floats your boat). Put those on top. Shredded Cheddar Cheese is sprinkled on top of that, and then a prepared box of Stove Top Chicken Stuffing goes on top. Bake at 375 for about 20-25 minutes. And you’re done!

Tuesday: Spaghetti Night!

Wednesday: Pizza Night (kind of redundant on the spaghetti –I know. But the boys are having a procedure done and I don’t want to have to cook)

Thursday: Lemon Rosemary Crockpot chicken (Link here). This is a new one for me. So I’ll have to see how it comes out!

Friday: Sweet Potato Shepherd’s Pie. I’m creating this one on a whim, I’ll update with a recipe shortly.

Saturday: We are grilling out with friends. So grilled chicken and some veggies.

Sunday: Chicken Parmesan Meatloaf. (Link Here)


As for 2014 things are going pretty well so far. I’ve been working out lately, about 4 times a week. It’s helping a lot with my mood, and I have a great friend who is holding me accountable. I go over to her house at 6am and we workout. Sometimes it’s a Pilates DVD, sometimes it’s the Butt Bible DVD and some Xbox Zumba. Sometimes I’m at my house working out. Either way, it’s on like Donkey Kong. I’ve also started eating better and am working to cut carbs and gluten out. I’m not joining in on the health fad that seems to be going around, but my thyroid symptoms have gotten much worse, so I’m almost wondering if there is a reasoning behind it. Regardless – it’s worth it to at least try. I won’t cut it out of the boys’ diets but, I can minimize what is in mine. I’ve been MUCH better about making time for me. I gave myself a pedicure a few weeks back, and am in need of one this weekend.  I’m looking for some craft projects to do with my new Cameo Silhoutte and am going to make a trip to JoAnn’s this weekend for some supplies as well a fabric to start a baby blanket for my sister-in-laws baby shower! I’m working much harder on leaving my phone on the counter, and it really does help! Believe it or not. I haven’t quite mastered leaving dirty dishes to be done until the boys are in bed, but one step at a time here. I think it’s good for them to see cleaning is a responsibility, but I do recognize that I need to focus more on being in the moment than chores.

How are your goals or resolutions coming along so far? Are you still working towards them or have you cast them to the side yet?

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Limiting social media in my life

One of my goals for 2014 is being a better mom, a better wife, a better friend, a better person; an overall better ME.

I won’t pretend like I have all the answers, I don’t and quite frankly I don’t want all of the answers. I like the trial and error, its harsh, consuming, and blunt; it’s real. One thing I really, really am trying harder to be better off is being more hands off of my phone. Staying away from social media, texting, emails while I’m with the boys. This is hard. One because I work at home, so unless its work related I’m working harder at not being mentally occupied when I’m with the boys. They’re at an age right now where they are so much fun. While they don’t always want my interaction and while watching at times can be… redundant (?), I can be there in other ways. I used to bake a lot, and it doesn’t take much to bake with them in the kitchen. I want to try to be more hands on and do crafts with them or activities. Teach them fun games and all the things a mom should be doing with her toddler. Not half watching them play on their own while I’m on my phone. Which, I know I am guilty of at times. Sometimes that mental break is so needed, but doesn’t need to be a daily occurrence. So starting now, I am challenging myself to leave my phone on the counter from the time they wake up from their afternoon nap till they are in bed.

It’s not that I’m against social media, or cell phone use, or against screen time for toddlers. I’m doing this for me. I want to memorize these moments I have with my boys. They are growing so fast, too fast actually. The independence they have gained over the past 14 months is astonishing. I don’t want to miss out on anything. I want to be there, with them in the moment. Now – not all moments are pretty. I know that. Trust me – when you have a poopy butt with a screaming mad baby attached to it, and another one stealing the wipes and running away – that is certainly not pretty. It’s funny… but not pretty.

I’m doing this for me too, I tend to take things to heart and feed off of others energy. And that is draining, very draining. Things affect me in ways they shouldn’t. In order to be more positive, I have to surround myself with positivity, with people I want to be like, and quite honestly that’s not what is on my Facebook feed, I’m sure it’s not on yours either. So – its my theory that if I avoid it, even for a small spectrum of my day, than it will help. Eventually I really want to only be on my phone when I need to be, and not on social media except for maybe once a day, twice? We’ll see, It’s not that I want to hide myself, or divorce my phone completely. Just that I want to be, I need to be more present in my day, in my life, and in my children’s life. That’s really what it’s about.

I’m trying to be better to myself, and carrying around all the worry and stress of the day isn’t healthy. Rushing isn’t good for anyone, especially anyone who has mom brain. Trying to slow down, make time, and eliminate stresses in my day to day and I really think, really hope, this will do that. I’ve been better about not being on my phone before bed, sipping some warm tea, before brushing my teeth and climbing in for the night (well until the next pacifier cry that is). And you know what? It’s helped. So, here’s to something new and hopefully something life changing. Because that is what this girl is looking for..

Why don’t you give it a shot? Limit your time on your phone, let’s see what we all get out of it! Let me know what your challenge is, and what you’re hoping will come out of this change.  

Menu Monday, a few days late.

This week’s meal plan:

Monday: Cowboy Casserole and Peas. I actually found a version of this dish on Pinterest. I don’t fare well with always following recipes but just took the idea and went with it. The result – a dish the boys devoured. And I mean, devoured. Best part, it was easy peasy!! It might not be the healthiest option for me, but that’s where portion control steps in.

-1 Lb Ground Beef. Baked Beans. Little bit of BBQ Sauce. Jiffy Cornbread Mix and Ingredients: Brown your beef and season like you would a burger; I really liked the Weber Gourmet Burger seasoning so that’s what I used. Once it’s done, drain any excess grease, put in a casserole dish (I used a small rectangular one, so maybe 8x10?) Spread a thin layer of BBQ sauce on top – it doesn’t have to be precise, more or less whichever works. Open can of Baked Beans (big can, not the canned veggie size can) and pour on top. Mix cornbread mix together with ingredients, and pour on top of everything. Bake at 400 for about 20 minutes, give or take. I found adding cheese on top of beans, under the cornbread mix was really good too.

Tuesday: Taco Tuesday!

Wednesday: Chicken Pot Pies! These I make in a muffin pan using Pillsbury Flakey Biscuits, so they make individual mini pot pies. It’s a huge favorite round my house, and pretty simple to boot.

-Boiled Chicken breast, either 1 large one or 2 smallish ones, most of the time I do 2 and freeze the leftovers for next time (which always comes in handy!), can of cream of chicken soup, frozen bag of mixed veggies (or steam your own fresh ones). Mix the cream of chicken with just a bit of milk – maybe a quarter of the can – and about a cup or so of shredded cheddar cheese. Boil the chicken breasts and cut/chop into bite size pieces, not chunks, and throw in the soup/cheese mix. Then add in the frozen veggies. Mix together. Flatten out the biscuits and mold them into the muffin pan, make sure it’s buttered up so they don’t stick, and then spoon in the pot pie mixture. Sprinkle with more shredded cheese and bake for the 350 for 20 minutes or until the biscuits are done (I normally go by the temperature on the can of biscuits).

Thursday: Sausage Casserole. This is another favorite here. It’s supposed to be cold on Thursday so I wanted something warm and something to bake in the oven to help warm the house. It’s super easy and always a hit. The great thing is that it is an anytime dish.

                - You’ll need: roll of sausage (Jimmy Dean Country Mild is my pick or a Medium spicy one), 2 bags of Kraft Mexican Shredded Cheese (or Market Pantry, or Sargento, I mean really – just take your pick), 1 can of cream of chicken soup, 1 16oz container of Sour Cream (regular, non fat, low fat any kind just plain ol sour cream), 1 bag of frozen hash browns. Now it is crucial that you get the little cubed hash browns NOT the shredded kind. Cook the sausage completely, like you would ground beef. In a super large mixing bowl, mix the sour cream with the cream of chicken; add in one of the bags of shredded cheese. Once the sausage is cooked, drain and add to the mixture. Then add in the hash browns. Mix it all together, and put it in a large casserole dish (9x13” I believe?) bake at 375 for 45 minutes, pull it out, sprinkle the last bag of cheese on top, bake another 10-15 minutes until its golden. Allow it to cool off before you eat it.

Friday: This is still up in the air. I have unstuffed cabbage soup, but my cabbage went bad. So – not quite sure yet.

Saturday: Shrimp Linguine Caprice. This will be my first try at this, I’ll update with a recipe next week.

Sunday: Steak and cake day! J This is a reward day for me so we will grill steaks, and then sweet potatoes and broccoli will be a side with cake for dessert.

Note: While my recipes aren’t exactly healthy, portion control and tricks are crucial. On Taco night, I will just have a taco salad and omit the shells/tortillas from my plate. Cowboy casserole and Sausage casserole are a portion control night. These foods don’t have to be completely avoided but they should be eaten with control in mind. I haven’t tried substituting plain Greek yogurt for sour cream yet, but that’s a project to try in the future! If you try it, let me know how it comes out!
What’s on your menu? Any suggestions/new recipes to try?

Tuesday, January 7, 2014


The famous New Year resolution list, right? Not from this girl, I do have some goals that I am hoping to obtain this year. I really want to sit down and do a bucket list for the year with my husband for our family, now that the boys are older and on whole milk, I think it will be much easier to do things. At least, I'm really hoping it will be. I'm hoping to make this year a great year, and making it a year for change. This is what I'm hoping going to change this year:
  • My relationship with food. I am going to make it better than what it has been. All my life it has been a constant battle of limiting, binging, limiting, removing. Not any longer. Granted this is more of a lifestyle change, but, I need to be a better role model with this for my kids, and for myself. I want to focus on making more well rounded, healthier, fresher meals for my family. Not bird food. It has to be filling, yummy, and good for us. I refuse to limit myself to food any longer. I'm not going to binge on chocolate, but I'm not eliminating it either.
  • My relationship with myself. I want to fall in love with myself. Sure, it may sound super vain. But I really want to love myself, my appearance, my quirks. I will make time for myself each day. Whether its a glass of wine or a home DIY pedicure. I deserve to reward myself and spoil myself. I work hard and I should be rewarded for that.
  • To be more active, healthy, and fit. I know, I know it is on everyone's list, but this is something that is and always has been close to my heart. I was so fit and active before and I haven't been lately. I'm also hoping that by doing this it will help me wean off of my PPD medications and help the PPD get lost!
  • My relationship with God. I want to live closer to His word and I want to live a more Holy lifestyle. I know there will be instances where I fall short, I know there will be not so stellar moments. But its where my heart is. I want to be better.
  • My relationship with my husband. Pretty self explanatory, but I want to really work on being a better wife, and a better friend towards Erik.
  • I want our family to be more active in general, hiking, walking, adventures things like that. Being outdoors more.
  • I will not allow myself to stress over work and my hours. I will do my best and that's all I can do. I will accept this and move onward
  • I will decide on a career path to take.

As for our bucket list, that's going to be a fun project. I know we have a bit of traveling to do so we'll see where it gets us! As for now going to Disney is the only item on the list.

What do you want to do in 2014? What types of changes are you wanting to make? What is on your  bucket list?

Friday, January 3, 2014

Everyone is fighting their own battles..

Since just before becoming a mom, probably just before we begun trying to conceive, I became aware of the struggles that other women went through to try and create their own family. The painful struggles of months of trying, only to get a negative pregnancy test each month, the heart wrenching and painful experience of a miscarriage, the uncomfortable fertility treatments and doctor appointments to bring a bundle of their own joy home, or to still painfully have empty arms. I always told myself that I wouldn't complain about any morning sickness, stretch marks, lack of sleep, etc because I was lucky enough to not only become pregnant much faster than we had expected, but because we were blessed with twins. Honestly, for the most part, I don't complain about those things. Other things, I'm sure I do, but I those things don't bother me. The stretch marks are a reminder to me, that I carried those babies for as long as I could. A reminder of my pregnancy that was cut short.

There is one thing that bothers me, that I have encountered in this motherhood journey. I think the one thing, aside from the competition, is the guilt. Not the mom guilt. But the guilt you are given because you have children and others are childless. The "Embrace your stretch marks, some women would kill for them." remarks. Or the "Enjoy and wallow in the sweet cries in the middle of the night, there are too many women who wake to a painful quietness." Remarks like those can make my blood boil some days. It truly reminds me of a quote that I don't think many people have ever taken seriously, or really, really, thought about.
If we all understood that everyone has their own battles to fight, insecurities to face, loves to contend and goals to attain, the world would be a gentler place.
Everyone, is fighting their own battles. Everyone has a battle going on no matter whether it is extremely apparent, or not. I know I am quite guilty of judging the parents that have their young children at the store at 9:30 - 10:00 at night, but I've really tried much harder to not judge them. I don't know what they are facing at home. They could be on vacation and need a few forgotten supplies, or they could be battling a serious illness, a death might of consumed the family recently and they didn't have time to go to the store. Whatever it is, it isn't my place to judge, it is not a job I want. While my heart aches for those women who want so badly to have a child and can't at this moment, I wish that this guilt battle would just stop. Suffering from PPD was the worst surprise I received when the boys finally were able to come home from the hospital. That should of been the happiest moments, finally snuggling in on the couch, waking for feeds every three hours, bottle washing, diaper changes etc. But, instead, I found myself drowning. Because of the holidays, Erik had to work, we didn't come home as normal families do to the maternity, paternity time frame. It was back to work the very next morning for Erik and I was left to take care of two tiny babies on my own. It wasn't until a complete stranger came to help that I realized I was suffering from PPD and it wasn't until she was here that I was able to really acclimate to my new role and really gain confidence in everything. I went from having to get myself out the door for appointments, to getting myself and two tiny babies out and making sure we had all feeds ready for however long we were gone for. It was a LOT and we had a LOT of follow up appointments. I received so many compliments on being 'strong' and capable for doing it, for having these beautiful babies and that I must be so overjoyed to have them home. But the truth was, that I wasn't happy, I was miserable. Sure, I loved them. But when they cried - there was absolutely no desire to go and solve what ever it was they needed. There was dread, feeling like I had failed with every bottle that was made, there was analyzing everything I ate and did during pregnancy that would of caused the TTTS. It simply was not what anyone would of imagined. My point in all of this is that - by looking at me, when I was out with the boys, no one would of guessed the thoughts that were going through my mind. There was an invisible battle going on that was destroying me and hurting my bond with my family. Everyone is fighting their own battles.

I don't want what I'm saying to be misunderstood, at all. My heart breaks for the women who want their own families and have to fight for one, whether its through years of fertility treatments, adoption, or going through heartbreaking losses. That is a tough, tough, road to travel down, and I know not one person chooses those paths to walk. That isn't a choice that anyone makes. I would never, in a million years wish that journey on my own worst enemy. I do agree, that it is simply unfair to see deadbeat parents who don't care about their children's welfare continue to have unexpected pregnancies while other women would dream and cut off their right arm for their own child. It isn't fair to the child, or the childless.

What I am saying is that this guilt tripping needs to stop, among everyone. Organic vs plain Jane milk, homemade purees vs baby lead weaning, formula vs breastmilk, the guilt and the fight has to stop. We all have our own battles, our own weaknesses, or own insecurities, just because someone elses path is more on the bumpy side than our own, doesn't in any way make any one elses battle any easier or less validated. It didn't bother me until recently, when a friend was discussing some issues and she made the remark of  "I know others have it worse." Others do have it worse, others have it better, others have terrible battles going on, while others have smaller battles. But just because others have different battles, does in no way discount hers or mine or yours. Maybe, if we kept the fact that we are all just doing our best here to get to the next day, to keep our family feed, clothed, and sheltered, then we could all be just a little bit nicer to one another. And maybe the world really would be a more gentle place and a more forgiving place at that.