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A U D G E | monday round-up

Happy Monday y’all! It’s always bittersweet to see the weekends come and go, but instead of mourning the loss of that glorious two days let’s just roll up our sleeves and embrace this new week full on… whaddyasay? To make the transition less painful, here are a handful of things that we’re looking forward to and a couple that we’re remembering fondly… aaah. Here we go!

wild explorers1 | W I L D  E X P L O R E R S  C L U B | There’s finally a little breathing air to spare now that the pollen is calming down a bit, and we are itching to get out and start some exploring! A few friends of ours introduced us to the Wild Explorers Club, and we are totally stoked to get out there and do some nature-y things! You can join their community via a monthly subscription, and they give you an assignment to work on every week. There are different animal levels, and they can earn badges for each level as they complete their tasks. We literally just signed up, so haven’t tried anything yet… but it sounds promising!

cfcp2 | C F C P  K I D S  A R T / N I N J A  C A M P | Tacie is gonna FLIP when she hears about this… of course, I can’t tell her yet, otherwise she’d be asking me about every 2.5 minutes if it’s time yet. And let’s be real. MAMA AIN’T READY FOR ALLLLL OF THAT.  Our beloved gym, Crossfit College Park, is hosting a summer camp June 6-10 for kids ages 4-13 focusing on creativity, movement, and community. Basically, by the time they’re finished they’ll be artistic ninjas doing parkour everywhere. ;) Better hop on their list fast for this! Spaces are limited, so don’t drag your feet! I’m kind of bummed that I’m too old… maybe I’ll just live vicariously through T-baby for the week. Lucky duck.

AndreaBakes_0013 | A N D R E A  B A K E S | Y’all. I have this friend… and she bakes cakes that will BLOW. YOUR. MIND. Andrea is one of those people that can just “whip something together with whatever I’ve got in the kitchen” and it still tastes better than anything I’ve ever made in my entire life… and that is absolutely not an exaggeration. She’s getting pretty into the world of cakery (is that a word? If not, I’m making it one) – and for good reason! Because these cakes are too good to not be shared with the public. You’ve gotta GIVE THE PEOPLE WHAT THEY WANT! And they want cake. Really, really good cake. She’s done a few birthday cakes for us, and this past weekend she did one for our friend Kristin’s baby shower – AH-mazing. Daydreaming about it is basically what’s going to be getting me through this week, no big deal. Follow her on Insta to keep tabs on what she’s got cooking… but grab a napkin before you do, the drool is a-coming.

arches-brewing-press-release-old-world-beer-atlanta-georgia[image via Arches Brewing website]

4 | A R C H E S  B R E W I N G | Hapeville is one of our neighboring cities, and they just got a brand spankin’ new brewery! We were able to drop in their grand opening this weekend, and their place is niiiiiiice! The indoor space was done so well, and the outdoor space made for a great hangout atmosphere. Not to mention, their beer was SO good!! I sampled four different brews, and I seriously loved them all! We brought our whole crew, little people and all, and had a great time… we’re definitely looking forward to future brewery hangouts! Super excited for these guys! You can pick up some of their beer at Beer Girl in the near future, so no need to fret! You too can drink a cold Arches brew. (-whew!-)

What are you guys itching to get into this summer? Any adventures we need to add to our list??

Until next time,

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C A S O N | showering baby liliana!

IMG_0957Joanna, Kat, and I hosted a baby shower fiesta this past weekend. Our BFF for life, Holly, is expecting her first baby (GIRL!) in May. As some of you know, I’m kind of an event planning freak. (I mean that in the WORST way possible.) All the little details completely consume me and I go a little crazy. Poor Joanna and Kat always get roped into my crazy ideas. BUT if anyone deserves to have the most fabulous baby shower fiesta you ever did see, it’s Holly. Holly is one of the most kind, tender-hearted people I know and I’m so thankful she’s mine. If baby Liliana is anything like her mother, we’ll all be in love in no time!

If you’re looking to throw a fiesta, you have come to the right place. I’m sharing allllllll of my fiesta knowledge with you! Let me go ahead and get my shameless plug out of the way. Take a look at the invitations Kat and I designed for the event!

First thing’s first, THE FOOD. My mom made a batch of her famous Cowboy Caviar for guests to snack on when they arrived.

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For the main meal, we had Willy’s cater for us. Best decision we ever made! I found it to be super affordable and insanely delicious. They literally deliver everything you need – steak, chicken, taco shells, salsa, lettuce, cheese, sour cream, chips, rice, beans, and guacamole! I knew Holly was a fan of street corn so we added this recipe to our spread. SO GOOD. For dessert, we ordered churros from Kakao. If you’ve never heard of Kakao, just stop. Clear your morning and get there for a breakfast burrito. I guess we kind of cheated a little bit on the food by having everything catered – but it just meant we could focus on the atmosphere more!

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We found tons of elaborate piñata garlands on Etsy and Pinterest but they were like $40 a letter. Sorry Liliana, I’ll think about spending that much on a garland for you when you are old enough to remember it. SO, we found this great alternative on Etsy. The letters are made of tissue fringe but it’s not actually a piñata – much more budget friendly! We also picked up tons of these papel picado garlands from this website.

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Joanna has an awesome outdoor space at her house that she let us decorate. We schemed with both of Liliana’s grandmothers to get baby pictures of Holly and JP. There were definitely some photos they will have to reenact with Liliana!

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I know this isn’t realistic for everybody, but if you just so happen to have a trip to Mexico planned while you’re in the midst of planning a fiesta themed event, it’s really helpful. This photo was THE inspiration for Holly’s shower so I just had to have these table runners. I actually found tons of Etsy shops that sell similar blankets….for $50 each. Kat and I were on a mission to find these blankets in Mexico and found them for $8.50! Yeah, I said $8.50. So we bought one blanket and had my mom turn them into table runners. Thanks, Mom!

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So cactus’ are kind of expensive – you know I love you Pike but I just couldn’t spend $8 per cactus. We found a supplier out in California that ships mini succulents and cactus plants all over the US for weddings and events. I was super impressed with this company! We were able to get 30 baby cactus plants for the same cost as FIVE at a nursery here in GA. Other than the cactus thorn I had in my finger for 2 weeks, everything with Cactus Limon went smooth and I’d highly recommend them. Kat and I hand painted each of the pots and then let guests take them home as a party favor.

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What’s a fiesta without a piñata? I’m not sure if Holly loved it or hated it, but we filled this gold star fringe piñata with lots of goodies for baby Lily. (We added our own tissue tassels. I’m a total weirdo and can’t just leave things alone.)

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We love you Holly and can’t wait to meet baby Liliana in just a few weeks. I love her so much already!

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A U D G E | bedtime battles: how i got my toddler to sleep

So if you are a parent and you’ve gone through the experience of bringing a newborn baby into your house for the first time ever, some of the following thoughts may have crossed your mind: “WHATAMIDOING OMGI’MSOTIRED I’MNEVERGOINGTOSLEEPAGAINNNNN” (written just so, because that’s kind of how you’re actually saying it in your mind.) And then that day magically comes where your baby decides, “Y’know? I’m too old for this crap. It’s about time for me to get a full night’s sleep.” And you wake up feeling like a normal human being again, and the angel choirs descend from on high, and you’ve MADE IT. You’ve crossed the threshold into the land of the living again… the land of the people who actually sleep at night. Welcome back, friend.

But, imagine this: After crossing that threshold of relief and re-gaining that sacred most precious part of your life back, you re-enter into that same territory all over again a few years later. You are now entering THE TODDLER ZONE. You are completely blindsided, and at a loss because nobody every really told you about this part of the sleep struggle. And now your “baby” is doing way more than just pooping and eating and staring lovingly into your eyes all day… these sweet little creatures are filled with opinions and feelings and curiosities and rebellion and questions and OMG THE QUESTIONS. So when you hit the end of the day and bedtime is here, there’s nothing you want more than to physically, mentally, and emotionally crash into your pillow face first. But then, it keeps going. For HOURS. Tantrums, full-blown screaming. Illogical communication. And you’re kind of at your wits end.

Processed with VSCOcam with c1 presetLet me pause here and say that every child is different. I totally recognize that. So if you have yet to experience this, it’s not a guaranteed thing. You might completely skip this whole ordeal, and to you I tip my hat!! (And secretly give you the stink eye because I’m so totally jealous.) But if you do find yourself in this spot, I just wanted you to know that you’re not alone. You’re not crazy. And this actually will not last forever… despite the fact that it feels like it just might.

So anyway, I wrote about the beginning of our bedtime battles with our 4-year old  about 7 months ago (which sounds totally depressing to say out loud – has it really been that long?!) – and there have been a few good stretches sprinkled throughout where she would go to sleep without a full-blown scene, but it would last almost a week and then we’d be back to square one. Nothing has really consistently stuck. Until NOW! I don’t want to totally jinx it, but I think we’ve FINALLY landed on a bedtime plan of attack routine. And this, I give to you! I’m no expert on these things though, so… just take that for what it’s worth. ;)

1 | Enlist prayer partners. This has seriously been THE MOST helpful of all. When people started asking me, “How are you guys doing?”, I started getting real. I told them exactly how we were doing. Exactly how hard this was on the whole family, and how much of a toll it was taking on my sanity. And then the prayer warriors really stepped up. And y’all… I saw an IMMEDIATE change. I don’t know why this surprises me every time, like “Oh? You were actually listening up there? Right on!” but I mean… WOW. God surrounds us with the body of believers for support in times of need, and that’s exactly what they did, and are still doing. There was even one girl who set an alarm in her phone every night at Tacie’s bedtime so she would remember to pray. And they ask us consistently about it. It’s not trivial y’all. It sounds like it is, but it’s a big deal for us and God knows that. And He not only hears, he LISTENS. Even if it doesn’t happen immediately, He wants you to bring those things to Him. He cares. He really does.

2 | Quiet playtime. This is something I found on the almighty google awhile back in a time of sheer desperation, but it made sense when I read it and worked surprisingly well for us. We of course had to work through a few kinks, but here’s the gist of it: Your toddler is allowed to play quietly in their room with a low light on (she’s got a little bedside lamp – it’s more than a nightlight but not as bright as an overhead), and they are only allowed to come out of their room ONE time. Once they come out, they can say good night and play time is over. The light goes off and they have to lay down for sleep. If they start getting too loud or yelling in their room while they’re playing, playtime is over. The idea is that they have time to unwind slowly for bed, just like we do as adults. If I can help it, I try to keep them off screens an hour or two before bed as well, which seems to help.

They can play legos, color, use a dollhouse, something that’s relatively quiet and low-key. We had to explain that we were having “grown-up time” and that was an important part of our day too. We also moved towards calling this “rest time” instead of “bedtime” – I don’t know if that really helps, but sometimes it’s all about presentation, right??

TIPS: Make sure they have everything they need before they lay down. Cup of water, check. Blanket, check. Special tiny toy that you can never find but HAVE to have to fall asleep with, check. This avoids a lot of the “excuses” for coming out of their room.

They definitely test the limits, but you have to be consistent or the rules won’t set in. We let her come out to use the bathroom (because we’ll soon start night potty training), but that’s it. Anything else, play time is over.

Know their limits. We know that she has serious FOMO (“Fear of Missing Out” – it’s a real thing), so we don’t have friends come over in the middle of her unwinding. I tried it once, it didn’t go well. If we need to get together with someone, we either tag team out and leave the house or wait until she’s asleep so she doesn’t know how much of a raging good time she’s missing. ;) We used to have people over for dinner and late night hangouts at our place all of the time, and while we desperately miss it we’ve just had to come to terms with the fact that this is a season of life where that won’t fit. And that’s okay. It’ll be back again one day! Nothing lasts forever.

3 | Audio books + stories. This has been a game-changer for us. We used to play lullabies for her which she adored (and so did I), but she memorized every word and then stayed up all night singing her little heart out… which was kinda precious, but defeated the whole point.  So we switched over to Audio books… and she was completely enchanted (and SILENT!). We put a little CD boombox on her dresser and plugged in her Dora headphones, and it was perfect. The headphones helped her to stay put, and she was so intent on listening she would be silent. We started her off with Amelia Bedelia Audio CD’s, then Maynard Moose, and the Uglified Ducky, which were all pretty big hits. Amelia Bedelia was the favorite by far, I think mostly because they spoke with accents and she’s obsessed with accents. (Looking at you, Peppa Pig.) Just this last week my friend pointed me to another resource called LibriVox, which is free public domain audiobooks. We haven’t even fully explored it yet, but it’s got a lot of children’s classics read aloud like Peter Pan, Little Women, Alice in Wonderland, The Wizard of Oz, all the gems. And they’re long and continuous, which is perfect for her so she doesn’t have to mess with it or ask for help. They also have an app you can download, which we put on our iPad and let her use that to listen. It’s been working like a charm! Great for the car too… whenever you need to go a whole minute without answering any questions. Y’know.

4 | Coloring like grown-ups. I got a coloring book for my birthday, and she kept asking if she could use a page from it while she had her play time. Funny thing is, I think the more intricate designs and patterns really help her to focus and unwind as opposed to the more simple children’s coloring books. And she’ll actually spend a few days working on the same page, so she doesn’t go through them as quickly. So for Easter, she got her very own coloring book and she. is. ABOUT IT. Usually she’ll fall asleep with her headphones on, colored pencil in hand, and coloring book on her lap… and it’ll take her about an hour or so to get to that point, but it’s an hour of peaceful, quiet bliss.

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 presetNow when I go in their room to turn everything off and tuck the kids in, I’m filled with feelings other than what used to be my usual rage and defeat. I love my babies deeply, whole-heartedly, and I’m so thankful for them in all of their awesomeness and hot mess-ness.

Thank you, Lord, for the people you’ve propped me up with. Thank you for listening, even to something as small as my heart’s desires. Thanks for loving me, even though I’m a really really small piece of this really giant puzzle. And of course, thank you thank you THANK YOU… for sleep. Praisin’ you hard right now.

Until next time,

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K A T | spaghetti squash pizza bake

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Cason and I tried spaghetti squash several months ago and it was a total dud. I was looking forward to the “noodle” like consistency and it turned out to be a soggy/wet mess. After much encouragement to give it another try (maybe I overcooked it or it was a bad squash) I bought another one! Cason found a spaghetti squash pizza recipe she wanted to try so we altered it a bit and created our very own recipe. Needless to say, the outcome was delish! If you’re craving pizza and want a “healthy” version you’ve got to give this recipe a try.

Spaghetti Squash Pizza Bake:

:: 1 large spaghetti squash
:: 1 lb lean ground beef (or ground turkey or Italian sausage depending on what you prefer)
:: 1/2 onion chopped
:: 1 teaspoon minced garlic
:: 1 1/2 cups pizza sauce
:: 1 teaspoon dried basil
:: salt and pepper to taste
:: 3 eggs, whisked
:: 1/2 cup mozzarella cheese (I used veggie cheese and it worked great but feel free to use the real thing!)
:: turkey pepperoni’s

Step 1 | Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Cut spaghetti squash in half lengthwise (Be Careful!) and scoop out seeds. Season with a little olive oil, salt, and pepper. Place squash cut side down on a baking sheet and bake for 20-25 minutes. Once squash is done remove from oven and reduce heat to 350 degrees.

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Step 2 | Shred spaghetti squash and place in an 8 x 8 greased baking dish.

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Step 3 | In a large pan cook ground beef, onion, and garlic on medium high heat until no pink remains. Add pizza sauce, dried basil, salt, and pepper to the pan and mix well.

Step 4 | Add meat sauce mixture to the spaghetti squash strands and mix well.

Step 5 | Add whisked eggs to the baking dish and mix everything together until you no longer see eggs. Place in the oven and bake 1 hour. When there is about 15 minutes left on the timer, top with mozzarella cheese and pepperoni’s then continue cooking.

Step 6 | Let rest 5 minutes before serving!

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This dinner hit the spot and I can promise you I’m adding it to my list of regular weeknight meals!

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C A S O N | Balsamic Chicken with Roasted Veggies

Do y’all ever find yourselves in meal rut? Sometimes it feels like Kat and I rotate through the same meals and I’m just craving something different. While perusing Pinterest searching for new dinner ideas I stumbled on to this SkinnyTaste recipe and I knew we had to try it. It just screams spring. Roasted veggies and fresh herbs? Yes please! I altered Gina’s recipe a little (We used chicken breasts instead of dark meat and changed up some seasonings.) and absolutely loved the outcome! If you’re looking for an easy, week-night dinner, you’ve come to the right place!

Balsamic Chicken with Roasted Vegetables | Serves 2

:: 2 Boneless skinless chicken breasts, trimmed of fat, sliced in half to thin them
:: 1 Teaspoon kosher salt
:: Fresh black pepper, to taste
:: Cooking spray
:: Asparagus, ends trimmed and cut in half
:: 1 Onion, chopped in large pieces
:: Carrots, sliced long and cut in half
:: Sliced mushrooms
:: 1/4 Cup balsamic vinegar
:: 2 Tablespoons olive oil
:: 1 Clove of garlic, chopped
:: 1/2 Teaspoon sugar
:: Fresh rosemary
:: 1/2 Tablespoon dried oregano

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Step 1 | Because we used chicken breasts instead of legs and thighs we brined our chicken so it didn’t dry out in the oven. We’ve never tried this before but loved the outcome. Here’s the site we used to tell you how to brine chicken.

Step 2 | Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Season chicken with salt and pepper. Spray a large baking sheet (or 2) with oil.

Step 3 | Combine all the ingredients together in a large bowl and mix well. Arrange everything onto the prepared baking sheet and spread out in a single layer. Make sure the vegetables are not touching the chicken so that they properly roast.

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Step 4 | Bake about 20 to 25 minutes, or until the chicken is cooked through and the vegetables are roasted and tender.

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One pan and it tastes delicious it doesn’t get much easier than this!

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J O A N N A | diy boxwood wreath

File Mar 21, 11 27 38 PMBelieve it or not… I made this wreath for my front door. Of course, this was more out of a desire to save some major moolah than it was to be creative, but still… I made it! I have been eyeing boxwood wreaths for a while now, but I couldn’t bring myself to spend the $60-$90 on one, especially since I have TWO front doors. I already had two grapevine wreaths so this project only cost me about $30 a wreath. (Thank you Hobby Lobby %50 off sale!) Check it out…

thumb_IMG_2006_1024thumb_IMG_2010_1024[ Magz – My cute little helper ]

You’ll need:

:: Grapevine wreath
:: Floral Wire
:: Greenery (I used boxwood and eucalyptus found at Hobby Lobby. Took me 3 bunches, 2 eucalyptus and 1 boxwood, for each wreath)
:: Wire cutter

thumb_IMG_2014_1024thumb_IMG_2020_10241 | Use your wire cutters to cut greenery at the base of the stem.

2 | Bend the stem a bit and tuck into the wreath. You’ll layer this throughout the grapevine and work in a circle.

3 | Use the floral wire to tie down and secure branches. You can make it as tamed or as full as you want.

Tips:

:: To make sure it’s proportioned it may be easier to work with the wreath hanging up.
:: Use hot glue if you need extra help securing any branches.
:: Add floral embellishments to make this seasonal or to just add a personal touch. I’ll probably be adding some flowers soon!

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Even though this is a very easy project it can be a bit time-consuming. It took me several episodes of Fuller House to complete my wreaths. (Don’t judge me.) Personally, I think they turned out better than the boxwood wreaths that I was considering buying. I am so glad I decided to make them myself. (Surprise, surprise!)

Spring is here! Let’s celebrate by relaxing on our porches and admiring our new wreaths!joanna_crop

A U D G E | new mama, this one’s for you

We’re edging more and more out of the baby phase of life and diving deeper into the toddler world (*YIKES*), and it seems like we’ve been doing this whole thing forever! (Even though it’s technically only been like 4 1/2 years, but who’s counting??) It’s weird to think that it’s been about a year since I stopped nursing Ollie, that Tacie can now sing a song to a real tune and read a handful of tiny words, and that we are sorta-kinda sleeping through the night again… WHAT JUST HAPPENED?! While our struggles have morphed into something completely different today, it’s SO good to look back and remember what we came from. To see all of the ways God provided when we were in that place that feels like forever ago, but really wasn’t all that far off.

We have a lot of friends that have either recently had babies or are soon expecting their first (YAY!!), so new mamas – here’s to you! You’re amazing, and you should know it. Fight the good fight, and love those babies deeply. There’s nothing else in the world quite like it.

flashbackfriday_edited-1This past weekend I was sitting with a group of women all in various seasons of life, many of those being different phases of motherhood. Some had grown children, some expecting their first, some expecting their second, some with fresh new babies in their arms… and as we were sharing things we could pray about for each other, the walls really started coming down. While having babies is an AMAZING gift and one of the hardest and most rewarding things I’ve ever been able to do, there are so many aspects of it that oftentimes people just don’t talk about. And the more I talked with other moms, the more we came to the same conclusion: I wish someone had told me it was going to be this hard. And not even in a “Man, what have I gotten myself into?!” kind of way, but just to know going into it that this particular area is a struggle, but you’re not the only one going through it. Not by a long shot.

So here’s to you new mama…

What I Wish I Knew as a New Mom1 | Post-baby weight. Yeah, I said it. Some people bounce back amazingly fast and you’re like ‘WHAT THE HECK’, and sometimes it hangs on for awhile. And that’s okay too. One of the best pieces of advice I got from someone in this area was this:

It took you 9 months for your body to make that baby. You need to give your body atleast 9 months to recover from that.

I strongly recommend staying as active as you comfortably can, especially in your last trimester (which is like the last thing you really want to do). Not only does it help keep the blood and endorphins flowing, but it’ll come back to help you during labor. After the baby comes, REST. Enjoy that baby. Snuggle that baby. Love that baby. You can wear those maternity clothes for a little bit longer… but you’ll never get those newborn days back. Cherish each and every crazy/hectic/beautiful one. But most of all, give yourself grace. Even if your “normal clothes” don’t fit for awhile, just remember… you just had a baby. You’ll get there eventually.

2 | Don’t be a hero, ASK FOR HELP. My bestie just had a baby in December, and here’s what she had to say about it:
“Asking for help for me was especially important with nursing. I was still getting acquainted with breastfeeding, but something just wasn’t right. After four weeks of painful nursing (which is unusual for it to last that long), we discovered he had a tongue tie and set up an appointment a few weeks later with a pediatric ENT to get it corrected. I wish I hadn’t tried to stay strong forever but it was by saying to a few people, ‘Hey, I’m struggling’ that I was pointed to an awesome lactation consultant that got the ball rolling. For a few friends of mine, asking for help meant admitting to their doctor that they were struggling with post-partum depression. Then their doctor referred them to an awesome counselor. Or when my MIL came over and asked what she could do for me, all I really wanted was a nap… so she watched my baby for me while I slept.” Honesty can be so freeing, especially in moments of weakness. Don’t shy away from it, you’ll only hurt yourself.

3 | Find your people. As a new mom, you need other moms too. Don’t cut your non-mom friends out by any means, you need them too! But having this can be an amazing resource and a huge encouragement in a season where you need an extra dose! I was one of the first in our circle of friends to have a baby, so I found my mom-people mostly from church and our gym. But if you don’t have that, there are soooo many places to meet new moms! You’ve just got to put yourself out there a little. Try a pre-natal yoga class and make some friends that are due around the same time as you. Check out a La Leche League meeting. Find a stroller gang you can meet up with regularly and walk the neighborhood or the park. Join a mother’s Bible Study if there’s one in your area. And apparently there are a million mom groups on Facebook in every different flavor that are actually amazing resources I hear, and provide a great sense of community. Don’t isolate yourself on newborn island – a good adult conversation with a sympathetic party can be honey for the soul. And you might just end up encouraging someone along the way.

SMH4 | Everyone and their mama is gonna tell you what you need to do for that baby. But you know what? They’ve never had your baby. Every single child is so different, along with every single pregnancy, every single birth story, every single parent… there is no “right way”. And to me, that’s kind of freeing. There is no such thing as a “professional parent”, we’re all just rookies winging it and trying to figure out what we’re doing while we’re moving right along. And while some pieces of advice people will throw your way will be total gems, some can be freely tossed out too.

I totally believe in mother’s intuition. If you’re being told something that doesn’t sit right with you, don’t ignore that feeling. I’m not saying it’s always right, but don’t just blindly follow someone’s advice. You can accept it with grace, and then go home and do what you think is right for you and your family. You’re the mom, and don’t you forget it.

The most important thing to remember, in both the good and the bad… everything is a season. This is what I cling to, and it so quickly puts everything into perspective.

You WILL sleep again, contrary to how you might feel right now. You WILL be able to wear pants again that don’t have an elastic waistband (but who even wants to do that anymore?! Let’s be real…). And most importantly, your baby will know it’s been loved because you’re one amazing mama.

Love! Love love love.

Until next time….

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K A T | peanut butter banana ice cream

Can we talk about how much I love ice cream? Especially in the spring and summer when it’s warm and light outside for longer…gah, I’m getting excited just thinking about it! I remember every year for my birthday begging my mom to make me a batch of homemade because it was SO much better. Fast forward to present day when my doctor ruined everything and told me I was lactose intolerant. What a jerk. I’ve been searching for a good ice cream substitute and I finally found it. B-A-N-A-N-A-S. (Did you sing it like the Gwen Stefani song? Because I did.) I know what you’re thinking…Puh-lease. I read somewhere that frozen bananas blend into the texture of ice cream and it’s true. Who knew? I was a little skeptical at first so I tried it out and it was all kinds of wonderful! (You may have even seen me Snapchat it- that’s how much I loved it!)

Peanut Butter Banana Ice Cream | Serves 2

:: 2 ripe bananas, sliced and frozen
:: 2 tablespoons peanut butter

Step 1 | Slice up your ripe bananas, put them in a freezer safe container, and freeze for at least 2 hours or until frozen. ( I alway freeze them overnight.)

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Step 2 | Put your frozen banana slices in the blender. If you don’t have a powerful blender, I would use a food processor. It definitely takes some work to puree the bananas to the correct consistency so you want a good machine.

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Step 3 | Blend! (Scrape down the slides.)

Step 4 | Keep blending! (This is the dippin dots phase, scrape down the sides and keep going.)

Step 5 | Just keep blending it…you’re almost there. (You will reach a moment when you think “OMG! Bananas make this consistency?”)

Step 6 | Once the bananas are smooth and creamy add your peanut butter and blend one more time. Then serve! (If you like your ice cream harder you can stick it back in the freezer for a bit too.)

2-ingredient-banana-ice-cream-recipe

You’re seriously going to be so amazed at the deliciousness of this dessert! And the best part is you can spruce it up however you want. Instead of peanut butter add a scoop of Nutella, or honey, or dark chocolate…I think you get the idea. You can thank me later! :)

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A U D G E | all the reads

I’m feeling so scholarly these days. I’ve always loved reading, but now that we’re homeschooling I  feel like I’ve always got my nose in a book for some reason or another. So today’s blog post is featuring all the reads that I’ve been feeling lately, everything from children’s books, parenting/schooling, life stories, you name it, I’m reading it. So snuggle up in a cozy corner and get those pages a-turnin’! Because after all… #YouCanReadWithUs too. ;)

nature anatomy1 \\ Nature Anatomy by Julia Rothman | One of the moms in our homeschool co-op brought this book in to class one day for a visual, and me in all of my visualness fell in love immediately! This is no boring reference material… the illustrations are vivid, charming, and just downright cute. Tacie and I sat in the yard the other day flipping through the pages seeing what we could find outside, which birds we thought we could hear… it was great. I’m looking forward to checking out a few of the other books she’s put out!

you are special2 \\ You Are Special by Max Lucado | I learn SO much through children’s literature, and this book is no exception. If I could teach my kids only one thing ever, I would want it to be about God’s lavishly unconditional love for them… how the creator loves and cherishes His creation, and it’s not because of anything we can or can’t do. As we start venturing into the world of noticing differences in the people around us, this book has been an amazing teaching resource to emphasize that very point: we’re all made in the image of God. That’s something special.

honey for a childs heart3 \\ Honey for a Child’s Heart by Gladys Hunt | I actually read this book last summer and loved it, but I’ve been cracking it open again recently for it’s amazing list of book recommendations! Now that I’ve FINALLY figured out how to use our public library’s online system (I know – I’m so behind the times… Love me anyway), this book is one of my first stops for creating our book lists. It’s broken up into recommendations based on age ranges, and there are even lists for special holidays/life circumstances which I’m totally loving. It’ll just make you wanna snuggle up and read forever… which I’d be totally okay with.

jesus storybook bible4 \\ The Jesus Storybook Bible by Sally Lloyd-Jones | If I haven’t mentioned this to you before now, then I’m a terrible friend. This is one of my favorite resources for teaching the Bible… to both kids and adults. We’re all giant children anyway, I’m convinced. I love the illustrations and the word pictures that are created. It’s such a beautiful way to journey through scripture with little ones, and it does a great job of drawing them in. So many thumbs up… as many as I can find around here!

parenting in the pew5 \\ Parenting in the Pew by Robbie Fox Cattleman | I’m currently reading this book (I’m still pretty early in), but I’ve basically underlined over half of what I’ve read… it’s that kind of read. T-baby is now old enough to sit in “big church” with us now, and I’ve been wanting to find ways to invite her into worship more rather than just shushing her and keeping her quiet. Enter amazingly practical and convicting educational resource here. We train our children to hit a baseball, to read, to use the toilet, it would only make sense for us to need to train them to worship. And it’s been such a good reminder for me to step back and look at what worship really is and why we’re even there to begin with. If you’ve got toddler-aged babes and you’re in the midst of this struggle… pick up a copy. And maybe a highlighter. You’ll be busy.

kisses from katie6 \\ Kisses from Katie by Katie Davis | So once upon a time an 18-year-old girl left Tennessee, went to Uganda, adopted 13 children, started a non-profit, and is just loving Jesus and DOING THE DANG THING. This is a real story about just a normal girl following wherever God leads, and I was SO inspired by Katie’s obedience to each step no matter how crazy it seemed at the time. Fun fact, Joanna and I (plus Brett and “Brother”, our #1 blog reader) have actually visited a couple of the areas in Uganda mentioned in this book way back in the day, so it was kind of cool to have a visual reference to some of the things she was talking about. Their ministry is still very much alive and active, so if you want to find out more about them check out Amazima Ministries!

just show up7 \\ Just Show Up by Kara Tippetts | Alright, full disclosure: I haven’t even cracked this book open yet. But it’s come highly recommended, ordered on Amazon,  and I’m really looking forward to reading it. The older I get, the more people I come to know and love who have experienced or are currently wrestling through some serious suffering, and it can take on all different forms. Suffering is something a lot of us kind of fumble with when we’re not the ones going through it. We want to help, or say something to lighten the load, or make a casserole, but we aren’t really sure how or where or when or… ummm. Y’know. It can get weird. This is supposedly a great read and tackles a lot dealing with how to navigate those waters.

for-the-love8 \\ For the Love by Jen Hatmaker | Ok, and again: On my Kindle, and currently in progress! (Are you seeing a pattern here? I think I read like 3 books at a time, minimum.) This is my first Jen Hatmaker book, and OMG I’M ROLLING. Her hilariousness is so refreshing, but still meaty…. there’s a lot of wisdom packed into those chuckles. I heard her speak at IF:gathering this year, and she was great in that too… basically, I’m a new fan-girl. I’ll probably read anything and everything she writes, starting here. [Jen, OMGILOVEYOUCANWEBEBESTIES? XOXO] I’ve read maybe the first four chapters or so, and I’m itching to get to the others!! I’ll keep you posted! (On both book progress and friendship progress.)

Happy Monday y’all! From our library to yours…

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J O A N N A | kale caesar salad + chicken

IMG_4758When kale first hit the scene I was hesitant… I was just fine with spinach and then all of a sudden the hipsters had to make kale the “new thing”. I wanted to be cool so I started putting it in my smoothies; I couldn’t taste it but I got all of the benefits, it was a win/win! Well, do I have news for you guys… as it turns out, I actually like kale! Fast food joints like Chick-Fil-A and Panera are stepping up their salad game big time by adding kale salads to their menus and mama likey! I decided to mix up my routine at home by adding this salad to my rotation and I know it’s going to be a new staple!… well, that is until the next “big thing” hits.

Heres all the ingredients I use to get my kale salad on:

:: kale, stems removed and chopped
:: grilled chicken breast, sliced and season to taste
:: caesar dressing (I LOVE the bolthouse farms caesar dressing, all of their dressings are amazing and low in calories!)
:: dried cranberries
:: parmesan croutons
:: walnuts, chopped

Toss and enjoy!

Because I am on-the-go so much I love that I can enjoy a yummy ( and EASY) salad in the midst of my busy life. If you want to go all out, feel free to check out this copy-cat version of the Panera Power Kale Caesar Salad recipe. It’s a bit much for me to make happen on a daily basis, but please, invite me over if you try it!imageKale is all the rage these days, you should get into it, everyone else is! (In fact, I’m actually eating it as I type this!)   

Until next time,joanna_crop