Sunday, May 29, 2016

Thirty-One

Weeks along: 31
Baby Size: Coconut (3.5 lbs.)
Symptoms: HEARTBURN! Like mad. Swelling has gone down a little since I upped my water intake to 100 oz./day.
Currently reading: You and Me Forever by Francis & Lisa Chan
Sleeping: Pretty good. I get up to pee about 3 times and my back and hips ache a little in the morning.
Emmie kicks: A lot right now. And she is super responsive to voices and pushing my belly. She is positioned head down but is directly against my pelvic bone and anytime she wiggles it actually hurts. Isaiah and Maci sat more on my tailbone so I had more back pain, so the pelvic pain is new. Oh joy!
New this week: Preschool is out! So we are ready to go full force into the summer and have some fun before Emmie gets here. Praying I can keep up! :)

Monday, May 23, 2016

Thirty.

Well, 30 weeks came fast...and so did the sweatiness. So sweaty. Constantly. Lower back and hip pain has kicked in and my feet hurt at the end of the day thanks to the 25 lbs. I've already gained. But in all honesty, I still feel pretty good. I'm still keeping up with all my people for the most part (though I need frequent potty breaks). My mood is pretty level - definitely more emotional but also way less crazy than my other two pregnancies (seriously, ask Darren).

Isaiah and Maci are super excited that we named our girl and when you ask Maci what her name is it's always: Emmie-Jo (like it's one name). And she says with a slight Southern twang that makes the name even more precious. She is so ready to be a big sister. I've also had a few friends have some babies recently, one I got to hold during Isaiah's t-ball game, and he came over excitedly from playing right-field to say, hello and pat the baby on the head. I'm pretty sure he thought it was Emmie. (Ta-da! Here she is!) I love that boy and his big heart.

I'm still pretty hungry all the time and like either super spicey or super sweet foods. I've been obsessed with Asian food and hamburgers pretty much the whole pregnancy and now I just want a side of donuts and cookies. Hence, why I've gained so much weight already. Whatever, man. It's my last one. IdowhatIwant.

I also have a new theory on how pregnancy goes month-to-month:
1st month - puking
2nd month- puking
3rd month - puking
4th month - puking
5th month - puking
6th month - GREAT!
7th month - heartburn
8th month - heartburn
9th month - squished

The end.
;)

30 week check up update:
Weight gain: 30 lbs. 😨 For real.
Baby heart rate: 145 bpm
Belly: 30 weeks

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Floral Monogram Letter How-To


Excuse me while I obsess over this sweet, sweet letter I made for baby girl's nursery. (And yes, we have a name!) 

Emmie Jo

I'm not sure who's more excited about it, me or the kids. Isaiah and Maci love talking about her and calling her by name. I think it makes it feel more real to them too. They are actually going to have a baby sister and her name is Emmie. Love.

So anyhoo, I wanted to do a single letter for Emmie's room. At Joann Fabrics they have these large cardboard letters (24" or so) for only $10. The only E left was ripped so I got a discount and it was only $8. Woop. (Nothing a little duct tape can't fix. My daddy raised me right.)

Originally I wanted it to be a sleek gold letter with a floral corner. So I used left over spray paint from a previous project and bought one bunch of fake daisies to hot glue to the corner. When I finished it. I didn't like it. It looked unfinished. 


After consulting my SIL, I decided to sleep on it. It either needed to be plain gold or totally covered in flowers. 

I decided to covered it in flowers. I went back to Joann's and got 3 more bunches of fake flowers (all 50% off). I removed the flowers and cut off the pointy plastic part and used a hot glue gun to randomly glue the flowers all over the letter. (And by randomly glue, I mean strategically place them so the colors were evenly distributed.)

This is what ended up with:


And I loved it! However, once I hung it I realized the bright pink flowers were too bright for her lightly colored nursery. So I popped those flowers off and added another round of soft pink flowers. I ended up with this:


And I love it. It suits the room perfectly and cost me less than $25 to make.

Supplies needed:
Letter(s) - $10
3-4 bunches of fake flowers - $12 ($3 each on sale)

What I had on hand:
Metallic gold spray paint (optional)
Hot glue gun & glue
Scissors

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

24 Meals for $170


I always love the feeling I get after doing a big round of meals. It's such a relief knowing I have these tastey, healthy meals ready to cook in my freezer. This round I made 24 meals for less than $170 (averaging about $7 each meal).

Menu| {make 2 of each}

Baked Spinach Artichoke Chicken w/ Pesto
Caribbean Jerk Chicken on Pub Buns
Pulled Pork on Hawaiian Rolls
Mesquite Lime Chicken Flatbread Wraps
French Dip
Greek Meatballs on Pita Bread
Chicken & Rice Burritos with Red Sauce
Sausage Bake
Fish Tacos
Sweet 'N Sour Meatballs
Beef Lettuce Wraps
BLTs

Grocery List|

Meat:
4 bags of frozen chicken breasts
2 3-pound pork loins
2 2-pound packages of stew beef or beef cubes
3 lbs. of ground beef
1 cooked rotisserie chicken
1 bag frozen tilapia filets
4 small bags of meatballs (about 24 each bag)
2 packages of bacon
2 smoked sausage links

Produce:
2 tomatoes
1 small bag of fresh spinach
Fresh mint
2 lemons
2 bags frozen broccoli florets

Canned:
1 can artichoke hearts
1 jar of pesto
2 cans of red or green enchilada sauce (whichever you prefer, I chose red because they didn't have green)
1 can black beans

Marinades/Seasonings:
2 bottles Caribbean Jerk marinade
2 bottles Mesquite w/ Lime marinade
2 Memphis BBQ Pit seasoning packets
2 Au Jus seasoning packets
2 bottles of BBQ sauce
2 bottles of grape jelly
1 bottle teriyaki sauce
1 bottle rice vinegar
**I buy the Lawry's marinades because I think they taste better than the packet marinades.

Dairy:
1 small bag mozzarella cheese (shredded)
Feta
1 small bag Mexican cheese

Dried Goods:
2 cups rice
1 small bag of brown sugar

Bread:
2 bags pub buns
2 bags Hawaiian rolls
4 bags of pita flatbread
2 bags of hoagies
2 packages of tortillas
2 bags corn tortillas
2 loaves of French or Italian bread

Other:
1 box gallon Ziplocs
2 disposable aluminum trays
Slow cooker liners (because this is always a great time to stock up)

Other seasonings I had on hand:
garlic powder
dried oregano
cinnamon
chili powder
cumin
salt
pepper

As always, once home from your shopping trip, label all bags and trays then start dumping. All the bread (except the flour tortillas), smoked sausage links, bags of broccoli, and bacon will just go directly in the freezer.

**There are lots of new recipes on this round - pictures will be added as I make them. :)

Baked Spinach Artichoke Chicken w/ Pesto


In a disposable tray, place 4-6 chicken breasts, seasoned with basil, garlic powder, salt and pepper.
Smother with half a jar of pesto
Layer 1 sliced tomato and half the can of artichoke hearts
Add 1 handful of roughly chopped baby spinach
Top with 1 cup mozzarella cheese

Bake at 350 for 30-40 minutes.

Caribbean Jerk Chicken on Pub Buns

4-6 chicken breasts
1 bottle Caribbean jerk marinade
(make two)

Freeze ciabatta with this. Thaw and grill (usually 7 minutes per side on a medium-low grill). Serve on pub buns.

Pulled Pork on Hawaiian Rolls

1 Packet Memphis BBQ Pit seasoning packet
1 3 lb. pork loin
1/4 cup brown sugar
Add 1 cup water and cook on low for 8 hours. Serve on rolls with BBQ sauce.

Mesquite Lime Chicken Flatbread Wraps

4-6 chicken breasts
1 mesquite with lime marinade

Thaw and grill. Serve with flatbread and eat as a wrap.

French Dip

1/2 package of stew beef (1 lb.)
1 cup water
1 packet au jus seasoning

Add 1 cup of water and cook on low for 8 hours. Serve on hoagies with provolone cheese and use extra juice to dip.

Greek Meatballs on Pita Bread


3 lbs. ground beef
1 bunch minced mint
the juice of 1 lemon
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp oregano
1/4 bread crumbs
1 egg
Salt & Pepper

Mix everything together with your hand, roll into meatballs, and divide in two separate bags (meals).

Bake at 350 for 30 minutes. Serve with the pita pockets (freeze them with the meatballs) and tzatziki sauce (greek yogurt, lemon zest, cucumber, and dill).

Chicken & Rice Burritos with Red Sauce

In a rice cooker, cook 2 cups of rice
Once cooked, mix in 1 can of black beans, rinsed.
De-bone the rotisserie chicken, shred or chop the chicken and add to the rice and beans.
1/2 tsp chili powder
1 tsp cumin

Spoon the above mixture into tortillas (both packages), add a little cheese and put in bag. To prepare, defrost, smother with red or green sauce, top with cheese, and warm in the oven.

Sausage Bake

Freeze 1 bag of frozen broccoli with 1 package of smoked sausage.

To prepare, defrost the sausage, add the broccoli florets and combine with cubed potatoes and other veggies if desired, drizzle with EVOO, garlic powder, oregano, sage, salt and pepper. Toss and bake. (Note: I have tried freezing the potatoes with this...it doesn't taste as good so I only buy the freezable ingredients and add the fresh ones later.)

Bake at 425 for 45 minutes.

Fish Tacos

1/2 bag of tilapia
1 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp chili powder
Juice of 1/2 lemon
Drizzle with EVOO

Thaw and grill. Warm the corn tortillas on the grill too. Serve as tacos with cabbage and fish taco sauce (which is just a combination of sour cream, mayo, lime juice, oregano, cumin, dill, capers, and a little cayenne).

Sweet 'N Sour Meatballs

2 bags of meatballs
1 bottle BBQ sauce
1 bottle grape jelly

4 hours on low.

Beef Lettuce Wraps

1/2 package of stew beef (or 1 lb.)
1/2 bottle of teriyaki sauce
2 TBSP rice vinegar
1 TBSP brown sugar

7-8 hours on low. Shred beef and serve in iceberg or butter lettuce cups.

BLTs

Freeze Italian or French bread and Bacon. Yep, this is one of those easy ones.

To prepare, defrost both. Cook bacon in the oven at 375 degrees for 25 minutes. Serve with Tomatoes, lettuce, mayo, and avocado.

And that's all folks! 24 meals for less than $170. Bon Appetit!

Monday, May 16, 2016

Twenty-Nine.

Weeks along: 29
Baby size: bigger
Food: I keep telling myself, "don't eat too much, you will want to puke and the heartburn will kill you."
How I feel: heavy

That's all for now, folks. ;)

Sunday, May 15, 2016

My 8 Favorite "Take Them A Meal" Meals

Is it just me or is everybody having babies lately? One of the easiest ways to help a new mama out is to feed her - and feed her something good, hearty, and easy. People tend to bring a lot of the same types of meals to people who are signed up for a meal train, and you might end up eating a month of pasta and rotisserie chicken. (To be clear, I am guilty of providing both.) Sometimes those things are fabulous meals but can easily get old. The following meals are inexpensive, freezable, provide large quantities of food, and can be dropped off earlier in the day (because sometimes dinner time is witching hour for all the people).

Here are my 8 favorite "Take Them A Meal" meals that are not pasta...or rotisserie chicken. ;)

Pulled Pork

1 Packet Memphis BBQ Pit seasoning packet
1 3 lb. pork loin
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 cup water

8 hours in the crock pot (I usually drop it off in their crock pot in the morning with crock pot liner so they don't have dishes), shred and serve on pretzel rolls with chips and salad (I usually buy a salad mix to make life easier).

BBQ Mac & Cheese
1 can cheddar cheese soup
2 cups shredded Monterey jack and cheddar cheese
8 oz. sour cream
1/2 c Milk
1 box elbow macaroni
1 tsp. Salt
1/2 tsp. Pepper
1 tsp. Garlic Powder

Cook noodles and stir in above ingredients. Pour into disposable aluminum tray and top with some cheese. Deliver with cooking instructions to bake at 350 for 30 minutes. Also, bring the above Pulled Pork recipe with instructions to use that to top the mac & cheese with BBQ sauce (I usually get a bottle of Sweet Baby Ray's). Bring a salad and/or some fruit too.

White Chicken Enchiladas

1 can diced green chilis
1 can cream of chicken
8 oz. sour cream
 3-4 Chicken Breasts
1 tsp. Cumin
Salt and pepper to taste

6 hours on low. Shred chicken, roll in tortillas, top with extra sauce and cheese. Deliver with instructions to bake for 30 minutes at 350 and bring tortilla chips, salsa, sour cream, and shredded lettuce for toppings.

Sausage Bake
1 sliced smoked sausage
2 sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed
2 red potatoes, cubed
1/2 bag frozen broccoli

You can add whatever other veggies you'd like to this as well. In a disposable tray, drizzle the above ingredients with EVOO and sprinkle with garlic powder, sage, salt and pepper and toss. Deliver with instructions to bake at 425 for 45 minutes.  Bring a salad too. This is a great meal for all those gluten-free folks in your life.

Sweet & Sour Meatballs
1 bag frozen meatballs
1 bottle BBQ sauce
1 bottle grape jelly

4-6 hours on low. This is one you can make at home and deliver or drop off early and put in their crock pot. My kids love these so if it's a family with kids, this can be a great options. I usually bring a salad and chips.

Italian Sausage Subs
2 lbs. cooked ground Italian sausage
1 diced green bell pepper
1 diced red bell pepper
1/2 bottle of pinot noir
1 tsp garlic
1 tsp basil

6-8 hours on low in the crock pot. Serve on hoagies or Italian rolls and sprinkle with cheese. Add a salad to this one.

Caribbean Jerk Chicken on Pub Buns
1 bottle Caribbean Jerk marinade
4-6 chicken breasts (depending on their family size)
1 bag of pub buns

Let the chicken marinade a few hours and grill. Store in a disposable tray or Ziploc and deliver with instruction to heat and serve on the buns with BBQ sauce with a side salad and fruit and chips. This is beyond easy and simple but sometimes that's all you need. This is one mine and Darren's favorite meals.

California Burritos
1 lb. beef chunks (can also use shredded beef or carne asada cuts if they have them)
1 taco seasoning packet
1 cup water

8 hours on low. Shred and serve with tortillas, taco toppings, and French fries (you can either drop off a frozen bag from them to heat up in the morning or prepare them before coming over).


These meals are not fancy or perfect but unless people have been lying to me, they will be a hit for any family needing some extra hands in the kitchen.

Sunday, May 8, 2016

Twenty-Eight


Weeks along: 28
Sleep: good but sweaty
Baby Size: Eggplant
Energy: yep, I'm tired
Name: I have a name and I call her it all the time and Darren is yet to correct me or agree with me.
Cravings: cereal, French onion dip and potato chips, cookies, hamburgers...so, you know, so healthy
Exercise: kickboxing and walking
Symptoms: I am so swollen. My fingers felt so tight in the middle of the night and I had to remove my wedding ring (already!) and buy a fake one. I never had to do this with Isaiah and Maci but the third time's a charm. I'm going to work on my water intake to see if it helps. My sciatic nerve pain is actually improving [most days] which is great. I'm mostly feeling the third trimester fog rolling in and doing my best to ignore it.
Mood: I'm in [mostly] a good mood, but I am feeling drained much faster than I want to. We have two weeks left of school and I am thrilled, ready for some relaxing days having fun with my kids.
Things I miss: jumping on the trampoline with the kids (it's been long enough), my balance, wine

Saturday, May 7, 2016

Being A Mom Isn't That Annoying

There are a lot of mamas out there in the interwebs that say they just want to "keep it real." They tell funny stories of poop, puke, and permanent markers. They constantly talk about going to the bathroom with an audience and "starving" kids that are suddenly full at dinner time. Most of these stories crack me up because they are real and things like this do happen...often. I don't have a problem with these folks at all. I enjoy them. The issue is the constant talking about it. The constant complaining about the hard stuff, the gross stuff, the I-just-want-a-shower-for-mother's-day stuff. Lately I've felt the need to just say it: being a mom isn't that annoying.

In fact, most of the time it's downright awesome. I am constantly and unconditionally loved by my two earthlings. They say things that are HIL-ARIOUS. They have great insight on life. Sometimes they are annoying, it's true. But so am I and so is my husband sometimes (sorry, honey). Still, it is mostly awesome. Here's why:

1. There is constant entertainment. Sometimes this is hard because you are tired. I get it, but I can't tell you how many times Darren and I break out in belly laughs over something our kids say or do. Whether they're yelling, "Get this ship out of here!!!" and we hear another less appropriate word. Or they call peacocks, "cocks" and have a miner obsession with them so they yell, "COCK!!!" randomly and persistently in public places. Or they make up songs and dances for only you to hear. I am constantly entertained by my kids. It is constant, which can be hard but there aren't very many dull moments.

2. You care less about what people think. This might take a while to happen - certainly everybody has an opinion when you first have your first baby. [Make sure you buckle them in their car seat this way, she/he should eat/sleep this much, you should feed your baby this, you should breastfeed, don't use a pacifier, I would never use my cell phone around my baby.] After a while, you figure out you are doing what's best for you and your kids. You get into a groove of how to be a mom and even though you never completely have it figured out, you care less about the Judgey-McJudgersons out there. [Especially that parent that gives you side eyes at the park while your second-born has a miner meltdown because you took the granola bar completely out of it's package. The travesty. It's okay, mamas, it happens.] Since becoming a mom I've gotten really good at smiling and nodding my head when people get too forceful about their opinions on a wide-range of topics - politics, vaccinations, public school, discipline...everything. (Side note: moms, can we please stop posting articles about whether or not you circumcise your boys? It's getting inappropriate. Our children are one day going to be teenagers and grown adults and will have their mother's social media to thank for the world knowing about their penis. Not cool. It's getting weird.) Anyway, I digress...

3. There is constant love. Nothing makes me feel more loved and wanted than my kids. They need me all the time. It can feel draining but if I really think about it, I'm not drained, I'm overflowing. Bursting at the seems. I don't always have the energy to contain all the love and wants and needs but I don't think I'm always meant too. Kids not only know how to love hard, they forgive easy when I'm not my best. That makes me feel even more loved.

4. They teach you things about life. The parents of two of Isaiah's friends passed away a couple weeks ago. It was both unexpected and tragic - shocking, really. I worried about how to explain it to him without fully explaining it. I wanted him to know that they had passed away but not scare him about it or cause him to worry. When Isaiah brought it up, we asked him if it made him sad and he said, "My friends didn't die though so that's good." Yep. That is good. There's nothing that made the situation better or right but Isaiah reminded me that the kids are alright...a silver lining I forgot to remember. This just scratches the surface of what my kids have taught me. They remind me of the good in this world, because there is still so much of it. And they've taught me just how much God loves us by simply knowing how much I love them.

5. You get to be a kid again too. This is my favorite. I get to spend summer running through sprinklers, going to splash pads, and laughing in the wave pool. I get to skip rocks at the beach and build sandcastles on the daily. I eat popsicles and Cheetos...be jealous. I hunt for worms and build mud pies. I tell knock-knock jokes and dance in the kitchen. At Christmas, the magic of Santa Claus comes to life. I get to jump on trampolines and teach my kids how to climb trees. Just this morning I have been a doctor, a princess, a giraffe, a superhero, and their parent. Being a mom is actually quite fun if you let the kid in you out.

Some days I really look forward to bedtime. Some days I want to be alone to nap or shower or pee. Some days I really wish they would just ask dad for anything...for once. But being a mom isn't that annoying. It is mostly awesome and should always be celebrated.

Sunday, May 1, 2016

Twenty-Seven

Weeks along: 27
Sleep: good
Energy: down a notch this week
Cravings: cereal and meat
Exercise: kickboxing and walking
Mood: some days I feel like there are just too many words in my house. Too many questions. Too much, "mom...mom...hey mom" and it makes me feel so tired and slightly annoyed.

 Third trimester always arrives with a vengeance, doesn't it? I also woke up this morning with swollen eyes and an aching back. My gracious. It doesn't matter how in-shape or healthy I am each pregnancy, third trimester is the third trimester and shows no mercy. Here we go, y'all. 

Let the countdown begin. C'mon sweet baby, be nice to me.