Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Our Typical Day: May 2016

It seems like time flies by and life changes so quickly that it's hard to remember what life use to be like.  What did we do in the evenings before BB arrived?  What did I spend my free time on before I was married?  In an attempt to try and remember what daily life is like, I figured it might be fun to periodically do a recap of a typical day.

I haven't been shy about telling people that I had a really rough transition into this parent thing.  But this stage we are in now is an absolute blast.  I can't tell you how much fun this little red headed fella makes our lives.  So let's take a look at a normal day.

BB wakes up between 7:00 and 7:30 and beckons us to his room.  Usually by the time we get in there he's standing up peering over the crib rails with his blue eyes and a big grin.

As soon as he wakes up, BB has his bottle.  8 oz of formula and this kid is a happy camper, ready to start his day.  While he plays with toys (or water bottles, or drawers, or the humidifier...), I get ready for work.

Next, we load up in the car and head for town.  We have about a 45 minute drive (one way) every day.   BB is usually really good--playing with his toys, talking to himself, or taking a nap. 

I drop him at the baby sitter and he is always all smiles when he sees his sitter and her kiddos.  After that, I head to work. 

During the day, BB plays, has 2 more bottles, breakfast (fruit and cereal), and a snack or two. 

At lunch I generally either go for a run at the pond by my office, go to the gym, or run errands. 

I pick BB up about 5 and we head home.  He almost always sleeps on this trip, so when we get there he arrives ready to play!

He is usually all over the house for the next couple of hours while I make dinner.  Running laps in his walker, playing in the mirror, chasing toys and water bottles around the floor...it's hard to keep up.  Depending on the weather, we may take the dogs for a walk. 

Usually around this time, The Boy from Texas is outside working on the barn he is building himself, mowing, feeding the dogs, etc.  When he comes in, BB enjoys some dad time. 

Before we eat dinner, BB has one last bottle.  Then he plays while we eat, and he usually ends up standing at our feet wanting to share in our meals.  We oblige and he seems to like pretty much any food we give him. 

After dinner, the playing continues until he eats his dinner about 8:30.  He has meat,  veggies, and cereal.  After that, it's bath time with Dad. The Boy from Texas has handled baths from Day 1 and I think they enjoy the big time splashing and playing with the fishies. 

When he is all cleaned up, it's time for lotion and jammies.  Then we get his binkie and walk or rock until he goes to sleep.  Some days this takes a few minutes, some days an hour.  He is almost always out between 9:30 and 10:00.  I put him in his crib and (knock on wood!) he has been sleeping through the night like a champ!

After he is snoozing, The Boy from Texas usually watches tv, I get stuff ready for the next day, and we hit the hay pretty shortly thereafter. 

And there you have it.  It's not flashy or exciting, but I sure would not trade this little life of ours!

52 Week Photo Challenge: Week 20

Monday, May 16, 2016

52 Week Photo Challenge Weeks 13-19

I suck at posting these, but I am determined to keep going. I have the photos but just can't seem to get them up on the blog.  Because the 2 minutes it requires from me is apparently too much?  What do I do all day?

Anyway, hopefully I can get back to the weekly posts after this one big catch up!  Here we go!

Week 13 

Week 14

Week 15 

Week 16 

Week 17 

Week 18 

Week 19

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Advice to the Class of 2016

Graduation season is upon us. I just love seeing the smiling faces of sweet kids on their graduation announcements.  I got to thinking the other day about things I wish someone had told me when I was 18 and about to head out into the world.  So I jotted down a list. Maybe I will make this an annual thing.

My senior class photo....14 years ago.  How did that happen??

1. Always send thank you notes.  Paper ones. That you place in the mail.  Texts and Facebook posts don't count. When someone gives you a gift or does something kind, buy a box of thank you notes, get a pen, and write a note. It matters.

2.    If you need money for something, work for it.  (I am not referring to anyone in particular here and I am not trying to piss anyone off. Also, there are emergencies at which asking for help is more than ok and I, myself, frequently send money to people in crisis and donate to non-profits and charities. That's not what I am talking about here.) There is something that makes young people today think it's okay to ask everyone for money.  Can't afford the expensive weight loss shakes and video? Start a go fund me account.  Can't afford to pay for school or lessons or classes?  Beg for cash donations.  I see this kind of thing on Facebook constantly. This makes me nutty. Don't have something you need?  Go get a damn job. Already have one? Get two.  Chasing your dreams is hard. Get to work. 

3.  Learn to be smart with your money.  I swear, there should be a "don't be a  money dummy" class for all seniors in high school.  It's so easy to get yourself in trouble. Get on a budget now.  As soon as you can, start a monthly contribution to a savings account.  Even if it's just $25, make it every month without exception.  And for the love, don't get caught paying the insane credit card interest rates.

4. Do not knock your hometown.  It's okay, good actually, I think, to leave and go see the world. Go meet new people with different ideas and experiences. But don't bash on your hometown. Because the people in that town are the ones who cheered you on at basketball games and brought casseroles when your grandma died, and bought whatever crap you were selling as a school fundraiser.  That town, those people are your roots. They made you who you are. Appreciate them. 

5. Be kind to people different from you.  Just because someone is different than you does not mean you have to be rude or hateful. In fact, you can even be friends. And you might be surprised what you can learn from each other and what you have in common.  I grew up never knowing anyone who was vegetarian, Jewish, or a tree hugger.  I am a meat-eating, cattle raising, non-hybrid car driving Christian, but I have friends now who fit into each of these categories.  I have friends who I guarantee you have never once voted for the same political candidate as me.  I have friends who pray the rosary, a former classmate who reads the Koran, and a buddy who spent two years as a Mormon missionary. And I am better for knowing them all. What would the world be like if we all were kind and respectful to those different than us? I pray one day we will know. And I plan to do my part to make that happen. Please do yours. 

6. Go to class. It is seriously very hard to fail a class in college when you show up. I don't care if you are tired or hungover or heartbroken or whatever. I had one class where me and two of my guy friends literally played Sudoku puzzles Every. Single. Day.  But we were there. Go to class. Butt in the seat.  One day when you put on a cap and gown again, you will thank me. 

7. Dream big.  Then go a little bigger. I think this is the number one piece of advice I would give kids. Especially kids form small towns.  You don't even know what possibilities exist.  No one ever talked to me about law school when I was growing up. I literally never thought of that as an option.  I never knew anyone who traveled to Europe on vacation or even thought about living in a big city apartment by myself.  It never occurred to me that I could watch golden helmets run out of the tunnel in South Bend or not die after running a half marathon.  But I was able to do all of these things. Dream big. Keep your mind open. Never sell yourself short.  You have no idea how much you are capable of. 

Here's to you, Class of 2016.  The world needs good people.  Go be one.

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

16 in 16 Report: January - April

Okay, I am guessing maybe I'm just bad at these things, but I swear these lists are harder and harder for me to keep up with.  I blame a little red headed boy for distracting me.  Here's where things stand after the first four months of 2016.

1.  Run a half marathon. Keep running during the pregnancy. (So far, so good.)

So....once again, a baby is going to prevent this list item from happening this year.  No worries though, I will run a post-two-babies half marathon in the future!!  For now, I'm hoping to continue running during my pregnancy.  Last time, I was so sick and losing so much weight, I had to stop in the first trimester.  This time, I'm good to go!  Here we are in the second trimester and I'm continuing to run (just a mile at a time) several times a week.

2.  Continue monthly photos of The Baby from Texas until he is one year old.  (7/12 complete)

Although the 7 month photos were a couple weeks behind schedule, we took them so we're calling this one a success so far.

3.  Read a classic.  (No progress)

4.  Go on 5 dates with The Boy from Texas.  (2/5 complete)

I'm going to count our afternoon at a pig show for this one.  BB's Grammie watched him and we just hung out watching our friend judge a county stock show.  Probably not the classic date, but we really enjoyed it!

At the end of April we went to a 4-H fundraiser and had an absolute blast.  BB spent the night with his Grammie and we really enjoyed a kid free evening of dinner, dancing, and sleeping in the next day!

5. Send an encouraging note to a friend once a month.  (4/12 complete)

January: I sent a little note along with a book to a friend who recently found out she was pregnant. 
February: Failure.
March:  Failure.
April: I made up for the last yep months by sending 3 in April. First, I sent notes and onesies to 2 pregnant friends. Second I sent a little note and some stationary to a friend contemplating a new adventure.

6.  Go to adoration twice a month.  (4/24 complete)

January:  I went to St. Hyacinth, down the road from my office one Thursday and while on a work trip I found a tiny little perpetual adoration chapel in Waco.

February: I went to my very favorite Adoration Chapel while on a work trip to College Station.

March:  Failure.

April:  I went to St. Hyacinth down the road from my office.

Going to have some major catching up to do on this one. Why is it something that is one of my favorite list items is so easily set aside?

7.  Read 5 new books. (1/5 complete)

I recently finished "For the Love" by Jen Hatmaker. I  love everything she writes, but this one was hands down my favorite.  Here are a few of my favorite quotes.

"The gospel is perfectly demonstrated through the daily labor of parenting."

"Do not look sideways for answers."

"Theology is either true everywhere, or it isn't true anywhere.  If it isn't also true for a poor, single Christian mom in Haiti, it isn't true!"

"God measures our entire existence by two things:  how we love Him and how we love people.  If you get this right, you can get a million other things wrong."

8.  Knock off three more bucket list check marks.  (No progress)

9.  Cook 20 new recipes.  (6/20 complete)

You can see all these recipes if you click here.

- Potato skins
- Stuffed bell peppers
- Turkey cranberry wraps 
- White green chile chicken enchilladas
- Chicken stir fry
- Cajun chicken pasta

10. Pray the Divine Mercy 200 times.  (9/200).

I'm way, WAY behind on this one for no reason other than I've not made myself do it.  Getting serious now.

11. Add 10 new clothing items to my wardrobe.  COMPLETE!

I was able to knock this one off the list completely thanks to Stitch Fix and my Christmas gift cards!  I've added the following items to my wardrobe.

- White jacket
- Polka dot sweater
- White work shirt
- Orange flowy shirt
- Grey sweat shirt
- Green sweat shirt
- White cut out shirt
- Wrap dress
- Black blazer
- Work jeans 

You can see several of these here.
12. Make 4 Shutterfly books. (2/4 complete)

So far I've knocked out 2 Shutterfly books thanks to the free book deals they offer!  First up, I made one book of my pregnancy with BB.  Second, I made a photo book of  his birth.  I am not a scrapbooker and there is no way I'd have time to keep up with something like that, but these books are so quick and easy to do that they work great for me!

13. Hike in Palo Duro Canyon.  (No progress)

I'm a bit concerned about whether my big ol' pregnant self can pull this one off, but I'm not taking it off the list just yet.  Hope springs eternal!

14. Complete a  52 week challenge and a monthly family photo.  (Minor progress)

I've managed to get behind here, but I'll be catching up in the next few weeks!

15.  Keep up with my perpetual calendar.  (Minor progress)

I'm way behind again.  I'll get on it.  Why is it that I don't take the time every night to just stinkin' write something down.  I keep it right next to my bed for crying out loud!!

16.  Finish Uncle Black Belt's book.  (Minor progress)

We are rolling on this one!  Uncle Black Belt is writing away and I've got Chapters 1-5 completely finished.

Bonus: Project 365 with the girls. (So far, so good!)

In 2014, High School Friend, College Roomie, Mrs. Arizona and I completed this. When the three of them all agreed to do it again, I could not chicken out. 

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Current Snapshot {May 2016}

I'm stealing this blog idea from College Roomie and doing a little snapshot of what's happening around these parts.

Making:  A dent in the week's to do list.  The last month has been absolute chaos with our lamb sale and The Boy from Texas' grandpa being in the hospital and passing away, so I've got a LOT to catch up on.

Wanting:  To spend some time outside in the sunshine!

Looking:  Forward to a weekend at home.  I'm hoping to do some gardening, dog walking, and help The Boy from Texas with some pen building.

Eating:  Fruit strip from Target.  I am obsessed with these.

Wishing:  My girlfriends lived closer so I could see them and their cute babies!

Enjoying:  This stage of life with BB.  He's now crawling up a storm, pulling up on anything he can find, and into everything.  It's chaos, but a lot of fun too.

Cooking:  Planning on some delicious chicken stir fry for dinner tonight.

Drinking:  Water.  Always water.

Loving:  My handsome husband.

Reading:  The Orphan Train by Christina Baker Kline.  I'm in an online book club and this is our second book of the year.

Hoping:  BB's bull in a china shop ways won't cause injury to his poor noggin that he keeps smacking.  I've serious considered getting him a helmet.

Needing:  A nice, long nap.  And a laundry fairy.

Smelling:  Lavendar from my Scentsy warmer.

Feeling:   Content.

Wearing:  An orange sweater and plaid work pants.

Watching:  Last night we watched a special on Fox News called The Man Who Killed Osama bin Laden.  It was fascinating!

Monday, May 2, 2016

Newlywed in the Kitchen {2016} Recipe #6: Cajun Chicken Pasta

I love it when a Pinterest recipe works out just like it should.  It's even better when The Boy from Texas likes it enough to want seconds.  This recipe is really easy and it was seriously delicious!

Cajun Chicken Pasta

2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (sliced or diced)
2 T olive oil (divided)
2 T cajun seasoning (divided)
8 oz Penne pasta
2 T unsalted butter
3 cloves garlic (I used garlic powder....)
Salt and Pepper
1 C heavy cream
1/2 t lemon zest (I didn't use this because I didn't have any)
1/4 C grated Parmesean
2 Roma tomatoes, diced
Shredded Parmesean

In a gallon-size Ziplock bag, add chicken, 1 T olive oil and 1 T cajun seasoning.  Shake well to coat chicken thoroughly. 

In skillet, add remaining olive oil and cook chicken until browned.  Set aside.

In medium pot, cook Penne as directed.  Drain and set aside.

In medium saucepan, melt butter.  Add garlic and cook until fragrant (1-2 minutes).  

Gradually whisk in heavy cream and lemon zest.  

Stir in grated Parmesean until slightly thickened (1-2 minutes).  If too thick, add more cream.  {Warning here....the sauce will thicken as it cooks and when you mix in the pasta.  I got worried it was too runny and added more cheese and it ended up being a touch too thick.}

Season with salt and pepper.  

Stir in pasta until combined.  Serve topped with chicken, diced tomatoes, parsley, and shredded cheese.

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Grandpa Joe and the Question

I never knew my grandfathers. Both died before I was born. But when I married The Boy form Texas, I gained a Grandpa Joe.  A tall, thin, grandfatherly man with white hair and a dry sense of humor.  We hit it off right away.  The first time we met, he hugged me as I left and told me I was welcome back anytime as long as I brought more dessert when I came.  And after I delivered him a red headed great grandson, I was definitely in his good graces. He was loving, funny, and very stubborn.  Qualities I find important in people.

After 3 terrible weeks in the hospital, he decided his time had come and he wanted moved to hospice. As we sat in the room waiting for the ambulance to arrive, the nurse asked him, "so, what did you do?"  A simple west Texan reply of, "I farmed and raised cattle" ended the inquiry. 

But I wanted to scream, "He did so much more!" He raised quarter horses and took my husband all over the state to horse shows.  He loved fish fries.  He believed in Jesus.  He has strong opinions that he sure didn't mind sharing. He liked to watch judge shows on daytime television and Duck Dynasty at night.   He worked hard, he enjoyed life, and he always wore the shirts we bought him for Christmas anytime we were coming over. 

And maybe most importantly, he raised a family. A good one, by my calculations. Four generations of which were there that day to stand vigil as his time came. He was married to the same woman for over 60 years, and they sure loved each other.   He got the chance to play with his 5 great-grand children.  Just hours before he took his last breath, my baby crawled up on his bed and babbled for several minutes.  As one of my friends often says, babies are the closest to Heaven since they were there most recently.  Made me wonder what he was saying and if Grandpa Joe might have understood.  He did so much more than he could tell that nurse in those few seconds. 

But as we spent the next 12 hours saying goodbye to Grandpa Joe, I could not get the question out of my head. What did you do? I suppose one day, we will all be asked that question. Perhaps by a nurse, maybe more likely by our God.  What did we do? What difference did we make? How did we show love? Show Jesus? Make a difference? 

Grandpa Joe died about 12 hours after his conversation with the nurse. No doubt, he was ready to go home and he had a good answer to that question when he arrived. 

His was a life well lived. He left behind people well loved. One day, may we all say the same. 

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Newlywed in the Kitchen {2016} Recipe #5: Green chile enchilada casserole

A good New Mexican lady needs turquoise jewelry, the ability to snow ski, and a good enchillada casserole recipe. Let me share one of those with you today. 

Green Chile Enchillada Casserole

1 pound ground beef
Garlic powder
Cooking spray
12 corn tortillas 
2 cans cream of chicken & mushroom soup (you can use just cream of mushroom but I prefer the can of the two mixed together) 
3/4C milk
Chopped green chile
Colby jack cheese 
Bush's pinto beans (optional)

Brown hamburger meat in skillet. Season with salt, pepper, garlic powder.  Drain greese. When cooked, add about half of the green chile to the skillet and mix well.

In a medium sauce pan, add soup and about 3/4 C milk.  Whisk and heat.  Add the rest of the green chile.  

Spray 9x13 casserole dish with cooking spray. Lay 6 tortillas in the bottom of the pan. (They will overlap a lot,  that's ok!)

Spread half of the hamburger on the tortillas.  If using beans, spread half on the meat.  Next spread half the soup mixture.  Top with cheese. 

Then build second layer just the same.

Bake at 350 for about 10-15 minutes just to melt the cheese. 

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Newlywed in the Kitchen {2016} Recipe #4: Chicken Stir Fry

This is one of my favorite recipes.  It's easy, quick, tasty, and healthy.  Hard to beat those things!  The Boy from Texas eats it without much complaint, and considering it involves no beef, potatoes, or tortillas, I'd say that is a pretty glowing recommendation from him.

Chicken Stir Fry

1 pound chicken breast

Olive oil

Salt, pepper, garlic powder, crushed red peppers (optional)

About 5 cups mixed veggies (I like bell peppers, carrots, broccoli, cauliflower, squash, and cabbage)

Rice (I personally would make this with jasmine or brown rice.  The Boy from Texas will only eat it with Uncle Ben's long grain rice medley. #marriageishard)

Stir fry sauce (I used Kikkoman, picture below.)

Put olive oil and chicken in a skillet.  Season with salt, pepper and garlic powder.  Cook until browned.

While chicken is cooking, steam veggies.  (You can use a steamer, or you can just put a bit of water in the bottom of a sauce pan, put veggies on top, place a lid on and leave it over LOW heat for maybe 10 minutes or so.)

Put veggies into skillet with chicken and add Stir fry sauce.  (I probably use 1/2 a bottle.)  Allow to simmer on low heat.  Add crushed red peppers for a little spice.

Prepare rice as directed on box.

Serve Stir Fry over rice.

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