Five on Friday

1. Last night Griffin decided that he was an artist. I walked to their room & saw green crayon ALL over the place. He had decided to draw and practice his "G" on the bedroom door, the wall, AND the carpet. He claims Cheney helped and that she drew a dog. He is so mischievous! As crazy as it made me, I was pretty impressed with his "G."
2. I made play dough for my preschool this week. I feel like a legit preschool teacher since this was my first time to ever make it! It was SO easy & the texture wasn't sticky at all. I don't think I will ever buy it again! Here is the recipe I used:
1 cup of water
1 tbs vegetable oil
1/2 cup of salt
1 tablespoon of cream of tarter
1 cup flour
food coloring/tempera paint
Combine water, oil, salt, cream of tarter, and food coloring or paint in a saucepan. Heat until warm. Don't boil, just get it warm and blended.
Remove from heat and add flour.
Stir & then then knead until smooth. I even added some Wild Orange from my doTerra stash to make it smell good!
3. I found a new show that I really like! I am pretty random with what I watch. My favorites are Law & Order SVU and the Chicago trilogy. I love Tuesday and Wednesday night tv! We finished Making a Murderer a few weeks ago and were obsessed. Now I am loving Mercy Street on PBS. You heard that right. PBS. It's about a Civil War hospital in Virginia & I am liking it so far!
4. I don't have a picture for this one & I apologize for that. However, I wanted to share the recipe for the Buffalo Ranch Ritz Cracker chicken we had this week! We ate it too fast to snap a picture...that means it was a winner! Here is the recipe:
Mix 1/4 cup of your favorite buffalo sauce and 1/4 cup of your favorite ranch. Coat chicken strips in that mixture & then coat them in crushed Ritz crackers. Bake at 375 for about 20-25 minutes.
Ben LOVED these & he doesn't say that about many things. I did just ranch for the kids and they gobbled them up, too! They both said I make really good chicken. Getting food compliments from super picky preschoolers is tough, so I will definitely make these again!
5. Speaking of recipes, I found a new place to hunt for them: SkinnyMom.com
My co-teacher just started using this meal plan but they have tons of healthy recipes on their website too! I'm excited I found a new resource for dinner ideas! 


The New House Tour: Dining Room and Kitchen

The biggest difference in our current house & our old house is that we went from a new build to an older home.  The house we live in now was built in 1998. Thankfully, the kitchen has been pretty much renovated and although some parts of the house need updating, it was move in ready. By the way, these house tour posts are really hard because it means my house has to actually be clean enough for pictures. I'll start with the dining room!
We haven't done any painting downstairs yet. I think I may keep the dining room colors...I can't decide!

Real life. There is a framed picture and candle sticks in the corner on the floor.

My assistant!

This dining room is a little bit bigger than our old one. I would love to eventually add a corner china cabinet to display some of my pretty dishes!

This is also the home of our beloved Roomba, Roberta. She's kind of like my housekeeper.
And here is the heart of the home...our kitchen!!
 Our old kitchen had dark cabinets and dark granite. I wanted a light & bright kitchen so badly after a few years of living there. I was so happy when we looked at this house and it had white cabinets, lighter granite, and HUGE windows.

This is the only room downstairs that needs to be painted.  I really don't like the dark burnt orange color that it is. One huge (and I mean almost deal breaker for me) downfall of this kitchen is that it doesn't have a pantry. We looked at it the first time and it didn't occur to me until later that night that it didn't have one. We went back a few days later so I could inspect their cabinets & see how they organized food. It definitely is not easy but it is doable.

I love the layout of the kitchen and how much more open it feels to our family room.
I kinda miss the days of magnetic refrigerators...this is one of my favorite spots in the kitchen! We have preschool pictures of our kids and our little Compassion child, Charles!

Our newest addition to the kitchen area is Cheney's new kitchen. She LOVES it!

I really love these huge floor to ceiling windows. We took the blinds down recently and it just brightens the whole room. I still look at our huge backyard and can't believe we live here! Our kitchen table is new (to us). Our lovely movers broke our old one and it was not fixable. Thankfully my friend, Mary, gave us her old table & we decided to refinish it! It was a lot of sanding and staining, but I love how it looks now. It fits our family of 5 better, too.
Our house is definitely a work in progress but it feels so much like home!


Menu Monday

Monday: Cashew Chicken with fried rice (using this recipe for the chicken minus the lettuce wraps)
Chicken and Potato Chowder - Just like mom's comforting chicken noodle soup, but it's even creamier and loaded with cheesy goodness!
Tuesday: Chicken and Potato Chowder with cornbread (we had enough leftover last week to freeze!)
Wednesday: Buffalo Ranch Ritz Cracker Chicken with baked sweet potatoes (this is a recipe I saw on Instagram...if we like it I will share it next week)
Thursday: Ranch Chicken, mashed potatoes, and green beans (I didn't love the Bacon Chicken Ranch casserole from last week..too dry for me. BUT, I did love the chicken in it so I will be prepping it the same way!)
Friday: Salsa Chicken tacos (these were a big FAIL last week. I left them in the crockpot while I was working and came home to burned salsa chicken. Note to self: 3-4 hours only in crockpot!)
Saturday: out
Sunday: Pancakes and bacon


snow fun

We have had quite the wintery week here in middle Tennessee! We had snow on Wednesday & all weekend! I was sitting at dinner with friends on Thursday night when we got the call that school was cancelled on Friday due to the winter storm heading our way. Well, we woke up on Friday and there was nothing but a little sleet. The kids were disappointed. Ben called me after he got to work and said the roads were slick & around 8:30 the snow started to really fall. It fell really hard, really fast. Luckily Ben left work after a couple hours and although he got stuck a few times, he made it home for a long snowed-in weekend.
By Saturday morning we had about 6 inches! I have never seen that much snow in Nashville. It was beautiful and looked like a winter wonderland. It has melted some today, but we still have plenty to play in!
Cheney was not a big fan of the cold wind in her face but she loved the snow! She looked SO cute in her fluffy snowsuit. She has never looked so chubby!
Grayson was definitely our biggest fan of the snow! He loved it! We tried going sledding but the hill behind our house isn't steep enough. He did make a snowman and helped Ben shovel all the snow off our trampoline!
Griffin prefers a warm house over the cold snow. He doesn't like his hands getting cold but he did love eating our snow cream we made!
We had a fun weekend of playing outside, lounging in pajamas inside, & looking at the beautiful snow. It is so cold & messy, but it really is so pretty.  Now that we have had our big snow fun, I think spring weather can come! 


the bittersweet part of the last baby

I'm so ready for the next chapter of our lives. I promise I am. This stage of life is so fleeting & sweet, but three kids who are pretty self sufficient sounds glorious.
and then I rock her. My sweet, wild, spicy, curious, always moving baby girl. It's almost like time stands still in that rocker.  It truly is the only time she lets me snuggle her & we might just be rocking her to sleep until she goes to college.  She is the sweetest little toddler baby. I say all the time that I wish I could freeze her just like this. Keep her as a 17 month old just a little while longer.
We've been in this baby stage for so long now that I sometimes forget that it won't always be like this.  I won't always have tiny little fingers clawing at me while I cook dinner. I won't always hear a sweet little voice yelling, "mama!!! mama!!!" One day I will even get to take a shower without having a child in the bathroom at the same time as me. (at least I hope that part is true)
These kids are growing up so fast & I feel like the last year literally FLEW. Our last baby won't be a baby much longer and it's a weird, happy, heartbreaking place to be.
I've got Psalm 126:3 written on our kitchen chalkboard right now & it seems to perfectly describe how I am feeling about life right now: "The Lord has done great things for us and we are filled with joy." 
So. much. joy.  There's just something about that last baby. 


The New House Tour: a room for our boys

When we moved in to our house, the boys were not sharing a bedroom. You might remember that we had tried that once before when Griffin was a few months older than Cheney is now. It was a disaster. We nixed that whole idea and came to terms with the fact that they would never share and we would never have a true guest room again.
Well, about a week after we moved into this house, they decided they wanted to be roommates again! The guest room still looks like it could be Grayson's room because I am sure they won't share forever, but for the time being it has been great! Here is a peek at their shared space.
It was hard to arrange their room because the closet has 2 huge doors on the opposite wall. They have just enough space now to open their window & some floor space to play. We've even gotten rid of Griff's rail since these were taken & it makes bed making SO much easier. Not that bed making happens on a regular basis or anything. Just being honest!

All I need to add on Grayson's side is a place to hang his artwork.

I love their little wall of pictures and art. I really need to add this to Cheney's room!

 I am also still in love with these beds built by my father-in-law. They are perfect! The room sharing thing can drive us crazy (especially when Griffin wakes his brother up at the crack of dawn) but the fun memories they are making is priceless.  I sure do love these brothers!
I am so glad that their room is basically finished. We will replace all the upstairs carpet eventually and Grayson has been begging for a fan in their since we moved in. I guess we will replace the ugly brass light fixture eventually! I'm just happy that they now love sharing a room!


Menu Monday

I'm going to be honest. Last week we had a fully planned menu. Last week we had take out WAY too many times. I will blame the sick stage 5 clinger on that! Sorry, Cheney.  This week will be better!
Chicken and Potato Chowder - Just like mom's comforting chicken noodle soup, but it's even creamier and loaded with cheesy goodness!
Monday: Chicken and Potato Chowder (we haven't had this yet, but this is one of my favorite food blogs. She has great recipes!)
Tuesday: Crockpot Salsa Chicken tacos (1 big jar of salsa, 2 chicken breasts, cook on low for 6 hours, & shred. So easy!)
Chicken Bacon Ranch Casserole - Creamy, cheesy and comforting! Loaded with Ranch chicken, homemade alfredo sauce and bacon. Can be made ahead of time!
Thursday: out
Friday: French Bread Pizzas
Saturday: Grilled chicken/apple sausage & baked sweet potatoes


Five on Friday

IT'S FRIDAY. Hallelujah!!! This week has not been the greatest & I am excited for a weekend with very little plans! I am really, really working hard to get my blog back in business. I finally cleaned off our desk in the office (we had not really been able to SEE the desk since we moved. in April. oops.) and I have my own little nook to write! So, here's my Five on Friday! Well, four, because I can't think of five;)
1. The only reason this week wasn't the greatest was because Cheney was sick again. We have become frequent visitors at the pediatrician lately. I wish they would let me have a punch card or something. You know, one free visit for every 10 we have? She woke up super early Tuesday morning with a 104 degree temp...that is crazy high for our kids & it freaked me out a little. I didn't go to work that day & took her to the doctor. We saw a different one in our practice & after he checked out her chart, he said, "let me guess...she's a daycare baby!" Nope. No she is not. Just catches ALL THE VIRUSES. Luckily she is acting almost back to normal today. yay!
2. Well, I kind of got a maid for Christmas. Except not really. I actually got a robot that cleans my floors for Christmas and it is just as awesome!! My parents got me a Roomba and it is the greatest invention ever. I always had to sweep at least once every day since we have shedding dogs and messy children.  It was usually the first thing I did every morning. I haven't had to sweep the first floor our house since!!!!! (well, aside from kid crumbs after meals) It's amazing. If you have dogs, GET THIS.
3. Speaking of Christmas, Cheney girl got some pretend makeup that she loves. She plays with it every day and loves doing all of our makeup. Daddy included:) I decided she needed another set to keep in our master bathroom because she is always in there when I get ready. I remember seeing a DIY thing on Pinterest and gave it a whirl!
Here is her new makeup! I had 2 things of eyeshadow and blush that were basically empty. I just scraped the rest of it out, rinsed it, and then poured in some cheap nail polish. Voila! Fake makeup! It took a full day to dry and get the horrible smell out. Cheney loves it! Now she can do makeup when she's upstairs and downstairs...such a girly girl!
4. We have entered into the dreaded winter months. The months that feel so dark, cold, & dreary. Winter is HARD with little boys. Grayson and Griffin have so much energy but it has been so cold lately! They have rediscovered our Wii lately and think Just Dance is so fun. It's the old version from 5-6 years ago but they LOVE dancing to it. It is a really funny energy burner before bed. Plus watching G get really into it is funny!


The things I don't want to forget

This is, essentially, the baby book for all my kids. Thank goodness for the internet! Here are some things I don't want to forget:
-how Cheney LOVES getting kisses from the dogs. Hudson and Ellie happily oblige but she is still working on Jack. She walks up to them with her mouth open wide & they know that she wants a kiss. Ha! Sister girl loves her dogs!
-the difference in sibling relationships at this age. Grayson is more of Cheney's protector and caretaker. He always makes sure she is safe and has things that she needs. He is loving to her and wants to hug on her all day long, but she screams. She longs for personal space. Griffin is her silly playmate and she thinks he is hilarious. I'm pretty sure she thinks they are the same age (poor tiny Griff) because she gets MAD when he tries to help her do anything.

-Cheney will cry and cry each morning until I go to her room. As soon as I turn the light on she sits down, turns her music on, and wants to just stay in her crib for about 10 minutes. I will ask over & over if she wants to go downstairs but she adamantly shakes her head no. Funny girl!
-Griffin can memorize any song after hearing it once. I think he will be the musical kid. He can carry a tune and it just seems to come naturally to him. We love listening to him sing in the car!
-Grayson causes all the drama getting dressed in the morning. It makes me laugh (when it isn't making me pull my hair out). I try and help but I can't get it right. He is particular about which things go together and which tall Nike socks he wants to wear! Such a mini teenage boy.
-Cheney loves her snowboots and picking out multiple bows. They rarely match her outfit, but I am just thrilled that she wants one!!
-Griffin says "mank you" instead of "thank you" and I refuse to ever correct him. It's my favorite. Especially during prayers. "Mank you God for my family. Mank you God for my friends."
-Cheney has started playing with my hair while I read her stories at naptime and bedtime. It's pretty much the sweetest thing ever.
-When Ben walks through the door he always gets the BEST Cheney greeting. She squeals, dances, and is genuinely so happy to see her daddy.
-Grayson is all of a sudden obsessed with magic tricks. He hides things all the time and shows me his "tricks" and "how magic he is." It is so random!


Menu Monday

Are you impressed? I'M BACK!
Before I share our menu for this week, I wanted to share my newest obsession when it comes to grocery shopping: ALDI. I remember as a newlywed in Franklin I walked in to Aldi and left a very confused customer. I was unaware that I needed a quarter for shopping carts. I was unaware that they didn't provide you with bags. You can buy them or bring your own. I was not expecting it to look like a warehouse. I bought some groceries and didn't return for 6 years.  One of my MOPS mamas who has 4 kids told me earlier in the fall that she could buy groceries for her entire family at Aldi for less than $100/week. That seriously grabbed my attention. We were spending roughly $140/week at Publix for our family & to be honest, our kids don't eat much. So, this fall I started switching up my grocery routine. I always shop on Sundays and I start off at Aldi & end at Publix. I am able to get probably 90% of our groceries at Aldi each week and I spend about $60.  The only things I have to buy at Publix are deli items, bananas, & Cheney's milk. I've been impressed with most of their own brand items & have quickly learned the things I can't buy there. If you haven't tried to do your shopping there, you should! Just make sure you bring your own bags & you have a quarter handy:)
Now, on to the good stuff!
Mustard Herb Crusted Chicken Breasts - quick, light and delicious!
Monday: Mustard Herb Crusted chicken, baked potatoes, & honey glazed carrots
chicken zucchini casserole 2
Tuesday: Chicken Zucchini Casserole (this is one of our new favorites!)
Taco Bubble Up Recipe - taco meat, beans, salsa tossed with refrigerated biscuits - fun twist to taco night! Quick Mexican recipe with everyday ingredients. Top with your favorite taco toppings!!
Wednesday: Taco Bubble Up
Thursday: Girls night out!
Friday: make your own pizza night! (we use tortillas as crust and they are perfect if you love thin crust like us!)

Baked Chicken Parmesan - kid-friendly and much healthier than frying!
Saturday: Baked Chicken Parmesan & spaghetti with marinara.


Menu Monday...a day late

Well, I said I wanted to do better about blogging and thought it was easy to jump back in with my weekly menu! Except I was supposed to post it yesterday. That basically sums up how I feel like my brain works these days...a day late & a dollar short. OH WELL. Better late than never, right?
I am so tired of cooking the same things over and over. I decided to get out my real (you know...actual paper pages) cookbooks this week and try some different things!
French Dip Sandwiches
Monday: French Dip sandwiches with fries ( I can cheat since we had these yesterday and say they were SO good! I usually just buy those Au Jus packets but this au jus was so much better!
Tuesday: chicken cutlets with brown gravy, mashed potatoes, & peas
Wednesday: Mustard Rosemary Chicken with red potatoes and carrots (this is a new recipe that I had written down from a friend...I love an easy one pan meal!)
Thursday: BBQ chicken tortilla pizza
Friday: Honey Lime Enchiladas (this is one of Ben's very favorite meals!)


a fresh start

I love the start of a new year. It always feels like a the slate is wiped clean and we get a fresh start. 
I am claiming this verse for 2016. I want this year to be a year of growth for me. I constantly need the reminder that His mercies are new every morning & that God's love for me is unending...even when I am unlovable! I really hate the word "blessed" because it is so overused (ex: I got a new Mercedes. #blessed), BUT, that's how I feel starting out this year. Unbelievably blessed to be the mama of 3 precious kids. I am not a perfect parent by any stretch of the imagination, but if there is one thing I want to get right, it is that my kids grow up hearing a lot about Jesus.  I pray that I am a better example of that kind of love to my kids this year.
This will also be a year of simplifying & organizing. Moving helped us simplify some. I am tired of all the stuff...especially since a lot of it is stuff we don't need. I want to purge & make our house more organized & functional.

Oh, and I want to blog more. I am sad that I didn't keep up with Cheney's first year of life as well as I did with the boys. This is like my scrapbook and I want to share all of our memories here again.
Here's to a great 2016!