Sunday, April 29, 2012

Back To Normal?

Well, it's probably hilarious to say that things are back to normal since Ruthie has been born, but I do feel like there is a new normal around here that is beginning to feel like normal. In the first 6-8 weeks after the baby is born, things are kind of hectic. Especially after Daddy goes back to work. Mommy has to learn to juggle everything on her own, and learn how to manage to get things done and take care of the kids by herself. Sleep is lacking, patience is lacking, help is lacking!! It always feels kind of crazy! And I always feel overwhelmed during that time like "how can I possibly do this myself!"
But after the craziness wears off a little bit, things fall back into place again. They are never exactly the way they were before, but you learn to cope and figure out how things can get done, what isn't as important and can slide, and how to make time for the most important things to you.
It's amazing to me that we always use the excuse "I don't have time" for the things that, in actuality, aren't that important to us. But the things that are important to us, we manage to find the time even when our time is very limited. I'm really glad that we have found time for the important things. I'm glad that we are getting school done every day for Maddy. I'm glad that I'm finding the time to workout. I'm glad that I can get my house clean when I want to. Sometimes that means staying up through nap time or getting things done late at night, like right now, because it's the only promised uninterrupted time in the day!!!
And I think that God was right on when He had us mommies sit down to relax and hold our babies about every 2-3 hours during the day to feed them. And rock them. And sing to them. Otherwise we might get too busy. It really is nice to sit down all throughout the day and rest and just look at the beautiful baby miracle that has just entered my life. She is precious, and no matter how crazy things might get, I am so blessed to have my 3 beautiful babies!!

Friday, April 27, 2012

Weight Watchers and the 30 Day Shred

Well, I'm back on the weight loss bandwagon again. Sigh. I'm excited and bummed all at the same time. I'm excited to be focusing on my weight loss, eating healthier, working out, and working towards weight loss goals. I'm bummed because I am a foodie and I love to eat, bake, watch cooking shows, snack, binge, and eat lots of comfort foods. And desserts. And junk food. And, well, you get the picture. I don't naturally gravitate towards drinking water and eating fruit and vegetables. My natural inclination is towards processed junk foods.
I have done Weight Watchers twice before, and lost about 15 or more pounds each time in only a couple months. So I know the program works, and it works for me. But I could never stick with it for the long term because I got sick of giving up foods, being hungry, and being self-controlled day in and day out. It sounds horrible, but it's true. But any time I just try to eat healthier or cut out certain foods, I never seem to lose weight. I need a program that will hold my hand and walk me through each detail of losing weight. Weight Watchers involves tracking everything you put into your mouth, every bit of activity you do, and also tracking your vitamins, milk products, water intake, and healthy oils. I end up being so much healthier when I do WW because I love checking off those little boxes on my page!! So it works for me.
I also am starting the 30 Day Shred with Jillian Michaels. It's only 20 minutes a day, which totally works for me, and has 3 workouts. You gradually build up to the next workout whenever you feel ready. I am hoping to make it through the whole 30 days straight this time! I am on Day 2 so wish me luck!!
So we will see how this round of weight loss goes. Like I said I am both excited and bummed. But I am realizing that it is all in my mindset. If I focus on the food I am missing out on, the things I wish I could make, the potlucks and restaurants, then I will quickly get discouraged. But if I can keep my eye on the prize, the actual weight loss, and celebrate the little victories of self-discipline, losing pounds, and activity goals, I will be well on my way to losing weight.
It's not just the baby weight. I have a lot more to lose that came on after I had Maddy. And I have been complaining about how I feel about myself and my looks since then. I really want to stick with this and do something about it instead of complain about it for the rest of my life.
If any of you has had success in losing weight or has any words of wisdom or encouragement to share, please do so!

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Chicken with Roasted-Pepper Sauce

This might not be the best picture in the world, but if you could taste this picture, you would be in heaven!! This is such a simple dinner to whip up, but the flavor is over the top!! I made this new recipe on a night that we were running late for a concert, and we were scarfing this down, wishing we had more time to savor the amazing flavor! And there were not leftovers for the next day! My whole family loved it, even the 2 year old!! It is super healthy and takes almost no time to prepare!! I will definitely be making this again!!

Chicken with Roasted-Pepper Sauce
Everyday Food
Martha Stewart Living

2 red bell peppers, quartered lengthwise, ribs and seeds removed
2 garlic cloves (unpeeled)
1 tablespoon red-wine vinegar
 3 tablespoons olive oil, plus more for grill
coarse salt and ground pepper
4 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves (about 6 ounces each)
arugula, for garnish (optional)

1. Heat broiler. Place peppers and garlic on a foil-lined baking sheet; broil 4 inches from heat source, skin side up, until peppers are blistered and blackened in spots and garlic is soft, about 20 minutes. Let cool, about 5 minutes. Use paper towels to rub off pepper skin; squeeze out garlic cloves (discard skins.)
2. Make sauce: In a blender, combine peppers, garlic, vinegar, 2 tablespoons oil, and 3 to 4 tablespoons water; season generously with salt and pepper. Blend until emulsified.
3. Heat grill to medium; oil grates. Rub both sides of chicken breasts with remaining tablespoon oil; season generously with salt and pepper. Grill chicken, turning once, until browned and cooked through, 5 to 8 minutes per side. Serve with sauce, and garnish with arugula, if desired.

I made the chicken with this super simple recipe out of the same magazine for Roasted Asparagus with Parmesan:

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Trim tough ends from 2 bunches asparagus. On a rimmed baking sheet, toss asparagus with 1 tablespoon olive oil; season with coarse salt and ground pepper. Spread in an even layer. Sprinkle with 1/4 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese. Roast until the asparagus is tender and cheese is melted, 10 to 15 minutes. Serve immediately.

You will not go wrong with these recipes! 

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Almost Done With School!!

At the homeschool group Spring Fling, displaying her volcano and artwork!

Well, we have almost survived the whole school year of homeschooling with Madelynn!! We joined a local homeschool group at the beginning of this year, and it has been a great fellowship of moms, a lot of which go to our church, who are encouraging in what we are all doing at home with our kids. I have made some good new friends who are doing the same things I am doing everyday and that is a huge thing to have in common with other moms!!
The kids got to feel the sting rays at the Aquarium!

School certainly got a little crazier when Ruth came along! We took a couple of weeks off school, but then we got right back into it so that we can finish in some time to have a summer break!! At the moment we are doing 6 school days in a week so we can finish by mid-June. We will definitely be ready for a break!! We recently visited a new homeschool group called Classical Conversations that meets once a week and holds classes for homeschoolers. Maddy's age group meets for 3 hours and they study lots of things and learn by way of song and other fun methods. They learn pretty advanced things at this age, but they make it fun and easy for them to learn, and it makes it easier for them to learn things when they get older because they have already learned the basics. When we visited, they were learning a verse in Latin, the distributive law (a basis for algebra), prominent features in the United States, the Bill of Rights, orchestra, and more. We were really impressed with the program, and are excited that Maddy will be in it next year!! We will do homeschool during the week, and then once a week she will go to these classes, and we will expound on this learning throughout the week as well.
Maddy visiting the Classical Conversations class

I am so glad I stuck with homeschooling this year. It was rough at first, I'm not gonna lie, and I wasn't totally into it. But it has been a great year and I'm really pleased with Maddy's progress. I feel like I must have done something right! Honestly, I pretty much put together the pieces for her kindergarten year. I used books that my mother-in-law gave me, and then added workbooks that I already had, and everyday we had an "other" category where we worked on states, capitals, counting, time, tying shoes, drawing, etc. We had field trips with the homeschool group to see a threshing bee, aquarium, a medic-vac helicopter, pottery/wool class, and a day with a lady from Critter Tales who talked to the kids and showed them live Oklahoma animals.
Touching a skunk at the Critter Tales day

I'm excited to plan her first grade year, possibly go to the upcoming Homeschool Convention, get the ball rolling with Classical Conversations, and rest with our summer break!! I love homeschooling, but the summer will be a nice hiatus from doing the work all throughout the week!!

Inspecting different things at Critter Tales

Just had to include a pic of the kids!!

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Try New "Adventures" Thursday - Hiding Out

It was kind of a crazy weekend here in Oklahoma. If you watched any portion of the weather, then you heard about all of the tornadoes that ravaged through towns, 2 of which were pretty close to where we live. Scary! Since we just moved here a little over a year ago, I am not used to living in a place that could so easily get a tornado. But the funny thing is that people who are from here don't really get phased about the threat of tornado. Some people do, but a lot of people just roll their eyes when I express my extreme concern!
We ended up packing up and spending the weekend with my in-laws, since they have 4 bedrooms in their basement. We slept there so we would be safer, and the kids were soundly sleeping during the storm instead of being woken up to hide in the closet or drive to Grandma's. We didn't hear much of anything down there. I heard a couple rumbles of thunder during the late-night feedings, but that's all.
We had just gone to the town of Woodward a couple weeks ago for a field trip. That's the town that got hit with tornadoes that destroyed about 89 homes, killed 5 people, injured a lot, and destroyed 13 businesses. They were taking volunteers on Sunday at church to head over to that town to help clean up the mess and move things. That's how real the threat was. That's how scary it was to live where the warnings were.
I guess I am really struggling with God being in control of the chaos. It doesn't mean that bad things won't happen, or that the tornado won't hit your town, or your house, or your kids. I am scared for my 3 kids and their safety, and my responsibility to keep them safe. And I know that this is just the beginning of tornado season. Basically our plan is to be at Grandma's with the basement during the really bad storms. I'd rather be safe there than sorry here in our house where we would all have to hide in our walk in closet. With 3 kids. Involving a newborn. No, thank you!
So, maybe God is really testing my trust in Him. It's hard for me to give this over to Him. To have peace in the midst of storms. I'm not sure what that looks like, releasing my kids to Him no matter what might happen to them. I am so sad for the 2 little kids who were killed in Woodward by the storms. It's real. I've got to get a hold on some peace or I might be a wreck every Spring that we live here! God will really have to work on me!

image credit

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Breakfast Casserole

I LOVE breakfast casseroles!! I didn't realize how much I loved them until I was on tour with Women's Concert Choir and we would stay in host homes. After some of our host homes made a wonderful casserole for breakfast, I was spoiled!! It was my favorite thing to have in the morning!! I have tried some different recipes, but I finally came across this recipe in an old church cookbook from Leroy Community Chapel, where I grew up going to church, and I love it!! Some recipes call for lots of bread, and I don't like that mushy texture. This one only calls for 2 pieces of bread, and that seems to work just fine!! It has sausage and mushrooms and cheese, which are all favorites in this house!! I admit I have made it a little too much, and I think Tad is a little sick of it!! But we had it for dinner the other night, and Maddy would have finished off the whole pan if I let her!! So, if you love meaty breakfast casseroles, then this recipe is for you!!

Egg and Sausage Casserole
June Olds
Leroy Community Chapel Cookbook (old one!!)

1 lb. sausage
2 c. milk
1 tsp. dry mustard
1 cup grated cheese (1/2 cup cheddar, 1/2 cup Swiss) (I usually just use all cheddar)
6 eggs
2 slices bread, cubed
1 tsp. seasoned salt
1/2-1 onion, chopped (depending on how much onions you want in it)
1 small can mushrooms, drained

1. Cook and drain the sausage. Add in the onions and mushrooms and cook until the onions are soft.
2. Beat eggs and milk, and add dry mustard and seasoned salt. Add to the milk mixture the sausage, onions, mushrooms, bread, and cheese.
3. Bake in a 13 by 9 inch glass pan, uncovered, for 45 minutes at 325 degrees. You can also mix this up the night before and then just cook the next morning. This is what I always do!! Love to make things ahead!!

This is a keeper!! It makes the house smell wonderful too!! You can serve with toast, fresh orange juice, and coffee! Or whatever suits your fancy!!!