Menu Monday

Well, Whole30 was going great. Until it wasn't. I made it 16 days in and was just so grumpy about it that I decided to quit. I think 2 failures means it just isn't quite for me! I am doing whole-ish30 but not obsessing. The worst part of quitting on day 16 was that I had gone to MOPS, skipped the most delicious brunch because it was not-compliant, and then decided that night that I was done. MOPS brunches are my favorite! I'm still trying to limit my bread and dairy & drink lots of water. SO, here is what we are eating this week!

Chicken Zucchini Casserole

Monday: Chicken Zucchini Casserole (this is an old favorite of ours!)

Swapping bread for sweet potatoes makes eating a Sloppy Joe so much healthier! One serving is just 259 calories, and also happens to be gluten-free, dairy-free, whole30 compliant and paleo.

Wednesday: Chicken & veggie stir fry over rice noodles -- using the Trader Joe's Soyaki sauce!

Thursday: Burgers (I love this copycat Fuddruckers burger recipe but I have been omitting the brown sugar!) I put an egg on my burger last week & some compliant chipotle mayo. I think I will try the sweet potato bun this week! Serving with roasted Brussel sprouts.

Friday: Thai Coconut Chicken Curry over rice noodles -- this is a Skinnytaste recipe & she uses shrimp. Sadly, I am the only one in this house that loves seafood so I switch a bunch of her things to chicken! It is really good!

Saturday: homemade pizza night! (I will probably skip this meal and do meat sauce over spaghetti squash)


Menu Monday

I have made it to my second week of Whole30! I have to say, I didn't love some of the meals this last week & that makes it a lot harder. I'm more excited about the food this week...let's hope the new things turn out the way I want them too! Whole30 is a huge mental thing for me. Learning when I am truly hungry and not just stress/comfort/bored (I haven't been bored in 6 years. who am I kidding?) eating. I had some people ask where I find meal ideas. Most of my recipes I have found while scouring Instagram. I follow a lot of really great whole30/clean eating/paleo people & they post recipes a lot. Here are some of my favorite IG accounts:


Here is what we are eating this week!

Slow Cooker Chicken Chile Verde | 5 ingredients | The Real Food Dietitians | http://therealfoodrds.com/slow-cooker-chicken-chile-verde/

Monday: Slow Cooker Chicken Chile Verde -- Ben & the kids will make soft tacos with the chicken & I will eat over cilantro lime cauliflower rice!

Whole30 Sticky Pineapple 5 Spice Slow Cooker Chicken Wings - Let the slow cooker do the work for you with these Asian-inspired chicken wings! You'll never know they're secretly whole30 and paleo compliant! Perfect for game day! | Foodfaithfitness.com | @FoodFaithFit

Tuesday: Sweet & Sticky Asian wings, sautéed sugar snap peas, & roasted sweet potatoes

Wednesday: Tacos for the family & plantain nachos for me! (Making the taco meat with my own compliant seasoning & topping with tomatoes, avocado, & red onion.)

this paleo chili recipe is all meat, lots of veggies, full of flavor!

Thursday:  Meat & Veggie chili

Friday: Chicken & Veggie stir fry (chicken, bell peppers, sugar snap peas, & broccoli sautéed with coconut aminos)

Saturday: leftover chili

Sunday: Burgers (mine with no bun or cheese) and roasted potatoes


it's a snow day!

I never know if I should listen to the weather people when they predict we will get snow. We live in what people jokingly call "the snow dome" and it seems to snow everywhere around Nashville but misses us. Well, they predicted snow for us earlier in the week and I woke up to Grayson yelling, "MOM!!!! IT SNOWED A TON!" I stumbled out of bed at 7am, looked out my window, & it was snowing but definitely not a ton.  Luckily for the kids, it kept snowing all morning and we ended up with about 2 inches (us Southerners think that is a lot, ya know) of fluffy snow! We also ended up with a high of 18 degrees. yikes!
I do love the way our house looks when it snows! Even if it is missing a shutter and we still have our outside Christmas decorations out.

The kids were SO EXCITED to go outside. I don't mind playing in the snow. However, I do look forward to the days where my kids can get themselves ready for the snow. No joke it took about 40 minutes to round up all the gear and get all 4 of us prepped for 18 degree weather and snow. It was exhausting!
It was so cold. But, we trucked along in the backyard for about half an hour. The boys played on the playset and Cheney rode in the dune buggy with Griffin. Ellie and Hudson LOVE to frolic together in the snow. They were so funny!
Grayson loved making snow angels!

Cheney loved the idea of the snow, but did not love the freezing wind and the fact that she couldn't really use her hands. There was lots of, "I cold, Mama!"
The one thing that Griffin has been asking about since our huge snow storm last year is snow ice cream! We came in to warm up & made a batch of snow cream and they pretty much licked the bowl clean. I am still doing Whole30 but I was bad & gave it a taste test. shhhhhh.
Ben even got to come home early from work!
Griffin enjoyed the snow the most! We were all freezing after our second round & came in to warm up. He stayed out for about an hour and a half playing in our yard with the older neighbor kids. This boy just loves people and loves being included. He had so much fun! He looked like an icicle when he finally decided he was ready to come in!

The kids are already wishing for more snow later this winter so we can actually build a snowman!


I got goals, y'all.

I am not usually a resolution person. I've just never really made big, specific goals for a new year. This year is a little different. I have decided that 2017 will be the year of me.  That sounds a little narcissistic. I don't mean it in that way, promise. I just mean that the past 7 years have been all about housing babes in my body, caring 24/7 for very small children, and pouring myself out for my kids. I don't say any of that like I didn't appreciate it; it is just hard to focus on yourself when you are in a cycle of having small humans. Are you with me on that?! Well, the baby days are ending at our house & I feel like I can really set goals for myself & not feel overwhelmed about achieving them. I can put a little more time in for myself.

My first goal is to read the entire bible in 2017. Cover to cover. I have tried to do this a couple different times but have never succeeded. My soul has just been hungry for the Word. I'm craving it. What better way to dive in than read the entire bible? I have the Bible app on my phone and downloaded a reading plan. It's even going to send me push notifications every morning reminding me to stick with it. I really feel like the Lord has made me step out in faith a lot over the last several months. He has opened doors for us & it has just been a big season of growth for me. I want that growth to continue. I've gotten back into journaling -- something I had not really done since high school -- and it has been good for me. I love writing & looking back at how things have changed over the last year. How God has answered prayers. How He has paved the way for certain things to happen. If you see me, hold me accountable! Ask how my reading plan is going...I know I will need accountability.

My second goal kind of goes a long with the last. I want to get back into blogging. I hate that I have been so inconsistent since Cheney was born. I did not do well at actual baby books & I haven't made a Shutterfly memory book since Cheney was born...this was supposed to be how I kept track of memories! oops. I know; life happens. But, I really love having this as a way to look back at our life and I will always love my little blogging "community." I need to make time for things that are important to me & even though it may sound silly, this is important to me. I think it would make my Granddaddy happy, too. Hi, Granddaddy!

My third goal is to be more intentional with my time. I mean this in lots of different ways. Not spending my nights after the kids go to bed watching meaningless tv (looking at you, House Hunters & Hoarders). Not wasting time on social media.  Just being intentional with my time regarding getting stuff done around the house & with people. Filling that alone time at night with more meaningful things...spending time with Ben where we actually talk, reading, being creative.

My last goal is to change the physical part of me. I am starting Whole30 tomorrow. I tried to do it in December and made it 10 days. I will finish this round. I just need to take better care of myself. I'm really doing it to adjust my lifestyle. I have never had a great relationship with food and need to change that. I have also been using my kids as an excuse to not go to the gym instead of making them my reason for going. Even if it is not their favorite place, it is something I need to do for myself. I have to remind myself that I am allowed to do things for me. One thing that is also so important to me (especially having a little girl) is to teach my kids about being healthy. Making good food choices, taking care of your body, exercise. God gave us ONE body and we need to take care of it. I want to clean up my diet and feel good.

I am excited for 2017. What are your goals??



looking back at 2016

Look how little they look at the beginning of 2016!

One of my favorite things to do at the end of the year is to go back through my pictures and see all of the fun things we did throughout the year. 2016 was a good one for our family. Our kids all grew up so much over the last year!

In January it snowed. A LOT. I'm talking a blizzard for the south! We got like 7 inches and the town pretty much shut down. It was beautiful & the kids loved it...but 4 days of being homebound was a bit more than we can handle. I look forward to the days where it doesn't take 45 minutes to get the kids ready for snow.

This girl was sick a majority of February but she knows how to rally. She is the toughest girl I know!

February was hard. We started a rough 6-7 weeks of constant sickness for sweet Cheney. She had lots of high fevers & lots of stomach viruses. She and I missed a bunch of school, spent lots of time with our favorite pediatrician, & even some (not so fun) times at the hospital. We also learned that my mom had lung cancer. February was full of scary & unknown things but it really taught me to lean on the Lord. He is good all the time. (and also? we got some answers about our girl AND my mom is now cancer free. YAY!) I also got a minivan in February and it was a GAME CHANGER. I never thought I would be excited about a minivan....but I am obsessed.

In March it finally warmed up; a time our family always appreciates because we love being outside! Baseball season started for Grayson & he had a fun time playing with several friends. We went to Georgia for spring break and spent the week at my old house hanging out with family. We also celebrated Easter with lots of egg hunts with friends!

We spent our weekends at the ball fields in April. Cheney was finally HEALTHY. Grayson got to have kindergarten sneak a peek at Lipscomb & we all got to ride the bus and take a tour of the school. He LOVED the bus and was officially ready to start in August!

May was a fun & busy month! We spent Mother's Day at the Sounds game with Grayson's baseball team! They got to go out on the field with the players and stand out on the field during the National Anthem. It was so fun! The little kids also finished out their preschool year with the preschool program (Cheney totally stole the show--little performer) & Grayson graduated from pre-k!

In June we spent a week in Hilton Head with my parents! We had so much fun that we booked our 2017 trip almost immediately after! Grayson really learned how to swim & really enjoyed the water. The kids also did a day camp at church called Playcation & it was awesome. They had a blast and it gave me 3 days of kid-free time. THAT IS WHAT DREAMS ARE MADE OF!

In July we celebrated the 4th of July at our favorite little downtown Franklin festival & then went to see fireworks with friends. Sadly, it thundered right before it started so we had to wait a night for those. We also started celebrating our family birthdays! Ben turned 32 and Griffin turned 4! We did a combined birthday party for Cheney & Griffin and had a petting zoo in our backyard. Ben thought I had lost my mind but it was amazing! Now I would like a small farm.

August brought about a huge change for our family: Grayson started KINDERGARTEN. He wasn't really nervous & loved it from the start. He has done so well, is learning so much, and has already made lots of new friends. I love his teacher and his school! He is also obsessed with his bus driver, Ms. Andi:) Our Cheney girl turned TWO on August 6th & is turning into such a big girl! Grayson also starting playing baseball in the 7 year old league. I was apprehensive about bumping him up, but he did so great and improved so much. Their team was a great group of boys & I am hoping they will get to play together again this spring!

In September we let our kids in on a little secret we had been keeping from them. We were planning on spending a week in Disney World during the week of Grayson's birthday! As if that wasn't a fun enough surprise, Mimi and Pops showed up in our resort lobby--the kids were pumped! It was a magical week with our crew & we definitely have become that family that is Disney obsessed. Grayson turned 6 & is so grown up. He is sports obsessed & so athletic. The little kids started preschool & love their new classes. I became lead teacher in my preschool class & still love spending two days a week with a group of 3 year olds!

October was spent exploring all of the local pumpkin patches (it is our favorite thing to do) and going on hay rides. We spent Halloween with some neighbors at a block party & then went trick or treating. We also went to our first Trunk or Treat with some friends & had a blast!

November as a sports-free month which meant some relaxing weekends! We of course started decorating for Christmas before Thanksgiving because that is how we roll. We spent Thanksgiving in Alabama & got our bellies full of yummy food! Hudson gave us a scare when his back started hurting again, but thankfully he was fine and it just meant he got to tag along on our road trip.

December was so much fun with all of our Christmas activities! The kids all had classroom parties, we went to Opryland to look at lights, we saw the Jellystone lights for the first time, watched way too many Christmas movies, & got lots of fun new toys.

I am so ready for 2017. God has opened new doors over the last couple of months & we are excited to see what He has in store for us. Happy New Year!


our Christmas

We had such a wonderful Christmas with my parents in town!

This is such a fun age with each of the kids. Grayson is all things Christmas obsessed. I feel like he is our very own Buddy the Elf! He was so excited about Christmas Eve this year so he could track Santa's sleigh on my computer. We had been watching Santa and the reindeer on ReindeerCam & he is just so intrigued.

My parent's got here the afternoon of Christmas Eve & we let the kids open up the gifts from out of town family. They were super excited!

They sure do have a lot of people that love them!

We went to church on Christmas Eve before dinner. It was a beautiful, candlelit service.

Cheney slept through about half of it. She was worn out! We sang Lauren Daigle's "Noel" and those words are just powerful. That has been one of my favorite songs this advent season. It is beautiful.

We ended Christmas Eve with the Pioneer Woman's pot roast (make it!), tracking Santa one last time, & finishing our Storybook Bible advent story.

Christmas morning started bright and EARLY. I had told the boys not to wake up before the sun on Christmas morning. Well, I heard them in the hallway walking towards our room & I got up to take them back into their room. I looked at the clock and said, "guys. seriously. it is 6am!" Grayson immediately looked at his clock and said, "NO IT ISN'T! It is 6:01." ha! They stayed in their room for about half an hour while the adults got ready & then it began!
Santa came!
 One of the only things Grayson asked for this year was some athletic leggings. He is OBSESSED with only wearing basketball shorts & this was something he wanted so bad. He cracks us up! Look at that face. He was so excited!

Griffin is just the sweetest. The smallest things make him so happy. He was honestly just as excited about giving me this snowman he made at school as he was about opening his own presents. He was so proud of this snowman!
All Cheney has said that she wanted for Christmas was "TWO BABIES!" Well, she is a lucky girl because I found these Bitty Baby twins before they discontinued them. They look like a little Cheney & Griffin. She loves them!

We spent the day playing inside & outside -- we had beautiful weather -- and eating way too much yummy food. The perfect way to spend Christmas!

We ended Christmas by taking Nana and Poppy to see the Sunnyside lights. We love Sunnyside & are so sad that next year is his last year. It was a great Christmas...I can't believe it is already over!


on Christmas & traditions

I love family traditions & Christmas is just about my favorite. I vividly remember so many things about Christmas with my family growing up. I loved digging out all the decorations with my mom, turning on our favorite Mitch Miller Christmas cd, & decorating the house and tree. The candlelight Christmas Eve service at our church was one of my favorite things. It was beautiful & I loved spending Christmas Eve singing "O Holy Night" by candlelight.

I have become especially sentimental since becoming a mom. Our mentor moms at MOPS last week talked about traditions they started when their children were younger & which ones have lasted now that their children are adults. It got me really thinking about how the things we are doing with our 3 now will carry on & even may continue on as we eventually add grandkids to our family. (how's that for thinking ahead?!) I wonder about the things that I do to try and make Christmas more special and memorable & about what the takeaway will be for my kids as they grow up. What will they actually remember? What traditions that we do now as a family will they continue to do with their own families one day? I love the magic of Christmas & I love how fun it is to celebrate with my kids but I have been really convicted this year about making sure that the focus of the season is on the reason why we celebrate in the first place. Looking back on their childhood Christmas traditions I want my kids to remember that Jesus was the focus of our holiday season. His birth is the whole reason we celebrate & while there are lots of fun things that also get thrown in, I hope they can look back and say that Jesus really was the center of our Christmas celebration.

I always wrap 25 Christmas books before December & the kids take turns opening one book a day. That has been a fun way to countdown to Christmas. We have so many great children's books about Christmas but I wanted to add something else this year. I searched for Advent readings that were appropriate for young kids & found this great one! It is a Jesus Storybook Bible Advent reading plan & we have been reading it each night before we do our bedtime books. It even has a cute free printable that goes along with it!

One of my favorite things we do in December is drink hot chocolate while driving around looking at Christmas lights. Grayson LOVES all things Christmas and he gets so excited when he sees lights. Even if you have one tiny bush with lights, he loves it. He is the one that I think will remember helping me decorate one day:) We also love going to Opryland each year and looking at all the beautiful decorations. We will be adding the drive through lights at Jellystone to that event this year!

I also look forward to Operation Christmas Child each year. Samaritan's Purse does Operation Christmas Child and it is a great way to teach your kids about serving others & that giving is better than receiving. We love filling up a couple shoeboxes every November to send off to children in need. It's fun for Grayson, Griffin, and Cheney to shop for these kids & pic things out that they think will be fun and useful. We even have them track our boxes and they will eventually email me & let me know where the boxes end up! Last year they went to Ghana & they traveled to the Philippines the year before last.

One thing that my kids look forward to each year is getting their special ornament from Ben & I. I add it to their stocking and it is special for that specific year. They get to hang it on their own tree and one day all of those ornaments will go with them to their own home! I love pulling them out each year and seeing what all they have.

Christmas is pretty spectacular as a child, but it is even better as a parent. I love starting special traditions with these 3 & seeing the magic of it all through their eyes! What are some of your favorite traditions?