Rothy’s Shoe Review

September 14, 2020

Mom life and work from home life doesn’t call for my attire to be very fancy, but I do love to get dressed in non-workout clothes most days of the week. It boosts my productivity and helps me feel more focused when I’m in my home office.

My shoe of choice for most work days? Rothy’s! I have a bunch of their shoes in a variety of styles and can’t get enough. Since I have been wearing + loving them for a while now, I thought it was high time to update you on my favorite styles.

The Point
My best advice for those ordering the pointed toe flats? Size up a half or full size. They run a tad on the smaller size because of the point, but I love the way these shoes look. I have them in red, animal print and camel color and love them all.

The Sneaker
These win my vote for most comfortable shoe! They are SO easy to slip on with jeans, leggings and even dresses for a more casual look. I didn’t know how often I would wear this style, and now I find myself reaching for these most often. I can walk miles in them without my feet being bothered and they run true to size.

The Chelsea
These are my go-to for winter weather since they are more of a bootie-style shoe. Comfortable like The Sneaker style Rothy’s, they are easy to slip on with jeans, leggings, etc. I also love how they are the perfect shoe for winter school drop-offs and pick-ups!

The Flip Flop
These were on my feet ALL summer. Truly? I thought I was a little nuts investing this much in a pair of flip flops but once I saw how durable, comfortable and machine washable (?!) they were, I was sold! Mine still look as good at the end of the summer as they did at the beginning. I tried putting on a cheap pair of flip flops the other day and forgot how terribly uncomfortable they are.

Things On My List to Try //
I haven’t tried their lace-up sneakers or any of their machine washable (?!) bags, but both of those are at the top of my list for things to try next. I love the idea of a carry-all tote/bag that can be tossed in the washing machine when it gets gross inside – like most mom purses do, right?

PS: You can get $20 off your first Rothy’s purchase with THIS LINK. But be forewarned: Once you jump on the Rothy’s bandwagon there is no going back!

DIY Daily Harvest Protein Energy Bites

September 10, 2020

You all know by now how much I love Daily Harvest, right? Well when I started to realize that Truett also loved Daily Harvest snacks + smoothies, it because clear to me that I needed to be able to make all these goodies at home, from scratch, because Daily Harvest is way too expensive to justify feeding to my whole family.

One of our favorite Daily Harvest treats are their “bites” that are stored in the freezer and eaten cold. I figured I could make an at-home version, and after four different batches, I think I found a recipe that tastes VERY similar to the original.

Note that I did add nut-butter to mine, but I believe the original recipe bites have pumpkin. I tried pumpkin, and it works, but I felt the taste was much better with nut butter. Adjust as needed to suit your tastes!

1 can (15 oz.) low sodium garbanzo beans (chickpeas), rinsed and drained, with skins removed
1 package (8 oz.) pitted dates
1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
1/2 cup almond flour
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup cacao nibs

In the bowl of a food processor, combine the garbanzo beans and dates. Process for 1 minute or until mixture is fairly smooth and no large chunks remain.

Add in the peanut butter, almond flour, cinnamon and vanilla and process another 30 seconds until well combined. Stir in the cacao nibs by hand.

Use a small cookie scoop or your hands to scoop into small balls. Drop onto parchment-lined cookie sheet. Freeze for 30 minutes to 1 hour. Transfer to airtight storage container and keep frozen until ready to eat. These will be soft enough to eat straight from the freezer. If too hard, let sit a couple minutes at room temp before eating.

Healthy Guacamole Salsa Chicken Enchiladas

August 20, 2020

Hello, friends! Checking in today with a healthier version of my favorite Green Chicken Chile Enchiladas. While I LOVE the original recipe, this is a much healthier “everyday” version that tastes just as good as the original but without the added indulgence.

Our family enjoyed these this weekend and ate the leftovers throughout the week for lunches! If you have little kids, the guacamole salsa might be a tad too spicy for littles. I would suggest using a mild green salsa instead if you want things on the milder side, but I LOVE Herdez guacamole salsa on everything.

Excited to be sharing more truly EASY weeknight meals with you guys as we head into the school year!

1 1/2 to 2 lbs. boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 jar (15.7 oz) Herdez guacamole salsa
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 can (15 oz.) black beans, rinsed and drained
1/2 cup full-fat plain Greek yogurt
8 whole wheat tortillas
3/4 cup shredded Mexican cheese blend
Avocado, additional plain Greek yogurt and salsa for serving, if desired

In the bowl of a slow cooker, combine the chicken and guacamole salsa. Cook on HIGH 4 hours or until chicken shreds easily when tested with a fork.

Remove 3/4 cup of the salsa mixture from the slow cooker and set aside.

Use two forks to shred chicken in slow cooker. Add a can of rinsed and drained black beans along with the 1/2 cup Greek yogurt. Stir until well combined.

Coat the bottom of a 13×9-inch baking dish with olive oil. Divide the chicken mixture evenly between the 8 tortillas. Roll tortillas and arrange in baking dish. Top with the reserved salsa mixture followed by the cheese. Cover dish with aluminum foil and bake at 350°F. for 20 minutes. Uncover and cook 5 to 10 minutes more or until cheese is bubbly and hot.

Cool 10 minutes in pan. Top enchiladas with sour cream, avocados and additional salsa, if desired.


Truett’s CHD Story (part 3)

August 14, 2020

Today marks a year from Truett’s heart surgery. I don’t really know where the last year went – both the longest and shortest time – but some days when I think back, I still feel like our time in Michigan was just yesterday. Something about the one year mark feels monumental, like I’ve been marching toward this date and these memories for months and now, as I sit here today thinking back on last year, I feel ready to let a lot of those feelings and hard memories go.

The days between our arrival and Michigan and the three full days between our arrival and Truett’s surgery day felt like four of the very longest of our lives. I remember it was light outside when I woke from my brief sleep, and when I looked out the window over the forest of threes my first thought was “where am I? Is this a dream?”

Joe and I remarked often that it was so strange how we could do so little during the day and yet the days flew by at the same time. Each morning we made an attempt at showering and putting ourselves together for the day – Joe often went on a long run around the University of Michigan Campus – and I washed my hair, got dressed and put on makeup. All attempts at biding the time and helping ourselves to feel more normal I think.

Our days were a blur, sitting in the small space behind Truett’s bed in the PCTU bay and the window, waiting for Truett’s doctors and care teams to make morning rounds so we could get updated on Truett’s status, learning as much of the lingo as we could, asking our nurses 1,000 questions, and doing whatever small acts we could to make Truett feel comforted and cared for. While his status made it such that we couldn’t hold him, I spent a lot of time sitting by his bedside, stroking and holding his hand. To this day, Truett has always been comforted by me holding his hand and sometimes I think that might be why.

I had anticipated that based on Truett’s status and severe illness, that once we arrived in Michigan they would send him to surgery right away, but what I learned was that it was actually better for him to wait a number of days if possible. When Truett started to go downhill, his heart started to get taxed from the experience of working so hard to pump blood through his narrow aorta, causing a host of issues. So the care team worked hard to find the right combination of medicines (so many medications) to help keep him stable and allow his heart to rest and recover before surgery.

What I learned over the days that we waited was that the upper half of his body was getting adequate blood flow, while the lower half was not because of his coarctation. So any medication they gave him to help increase blood flow and pressures to the lower half needed to be balanced because that would push the upper half too high. Through it all, and all the medications, and all the fear we felt as parents seeing our sweet, new little baby in such a horrible state – vented and sedated, puffy from all the medications – we felt such a sense of peace and calm knowing we were in THE best hands at The University of Michigan. Every nurse, every doctor, even down to the people working at the floor desk or janitorial duties were kind and thoughtful and took time to ask how our child was doing. It’s an amazing place, that’s for sure, and one we hope to take Truett back to some day.

We got the news on Tuesday late in the day that we got bumped up to surgery on Wednesday instead of Thursday. It was a welcome relief, because during the time between our arrival and surgery, Truett was never “improving” or “getting better” – he was just not getting worse. I hadn’t been able to hold Truett since we were in Sioux Falls, but a hospital policy was that all parents be able to hold their babies before surgery. Through a lot of maneuvering through cords, a ventilator, and wires and sitting just so in a chair, Joe and I were able to hold Truett before surgery. I remember holding him and just weeping – feeling the weight of the emotions of the last three days and the fear about his surgery, knowing there was no other way forward for our sweet boy

The time between when they wheeled Truett away until we got to see him again were agonizing. I think any parent who has given their child up to a major surgery can attest to that fact. Our pastor had flown all the way from Iowa to spend time in prayer with us – truly one of the kindest and most humbling acts – and my Aunt Gwen flew in from Florida as well as my sister, Ashley, from Pennsylvania. Having them there with us in the waiting room while we waited for updates was so helpful to keep our mind off what was going on. Every hour or two a dedicated nurse would come and give us updates on how the surgery was going. I remember searching her face as she approached us each time for indications on how things were going, desperate for answers.

After six LONG hours, we got the update that his surgery was a success. Truett’s amazing surgeon, Dr. Si, came to talk with us about an hour later. He said that Truett’s narrowing was, indeed, very severe and was a “pinhole sized opening” at it’s narrowest spot. By being able to go through his back for the surgery, they were able to avoid putting him on bypass and instead – in their words they clamped the blood flow off, cut the narrowing out and “sewed really really fast” – something that to this day just astounds me.

I remember seeing Truett for the first time after surgery and my first observation was how peaceful he was. His little body was no longer struggling to breathe, no longer tense. He was steady and calm and my first thought was “He’s whole now.”

Once we were able to see Truett back in his room, the next four hours were also nerve wracking as we waited to see Truett move all four limbs to signal there wasn’t neurological/spinal cord damage. Thankfully, he came out of surgery well and the following day was doing so well he was able to be taken off his ventilator, making it possible for us to hold him for longer periods of time – something you can bet I took full advantage of. I think I spent most of that first day of him off the ventilator just snuggling him and marveling at his sweet face and refusing to move even when my arms were so numb I thought they were going to fall off. Nothing else mattered in those moments beside holding my sweet boy.

The days following surgery went by much faster than those leading up to surgery. Two days after surgery, Truett was doing so well that he got moved to the step-down floor, a floor with much much less intensive care that meant Joe and I had a lot more to do than before! We learned about how to give Truett a bath with his incision – still a very strange way to give a baby a bath – and our biggest hurdle was figuring out feedings since Truett had gone nearly a week without traditional food.

I was so thankful for some sweet momma friends that I got connected with who had babies who experienced the same journey and were able to encourage me to advocate for myself + Truett and our hope to continue breastfeeding as we worked toward more normal feeds. Once Truett woke up a bit more post surgery, it was clear that he was MAD about wanting to eat. Sweet boy always has been hungry! 😉

While our well-intentioned nutritionist came in with a plan to fortify breastmilk and bottle feed to get Truett the calories he needed post surgery, I was thankful for a nurse practitioner who helped advocate for what we both agreed was best – that Truett just needed to resume normal breastfeeding if possible. There were a good handful of difficult feedings and tears along the way, but we kept at it and he quickly figured it out.

A mere FIVE days after heart surgery, Truett was discharged to go home. Our days in Michigan have forever changed our family and had the biggest impact on me. While our return to home was really only the beginning of my own journey over the last year – one filled with lots of residual effects of trauma and plenty to process and heal from – Joe and I will forever hold those days in Michigan close to our heart. It was a time where we saw God walk alongside us in a thousand different ways and where we surrendered any illusion we had of control over our children’s lives.

A big thank you to YOU all who also walked alongside us as we processed and worked through the last year. Thank you for praying with us and for us, for allowing me my own space and time to process and for loving our sweet Truett and celebrating his milestones along with us.


Chicken Burrito Bowl Bake

August 12, 2020

To say our family has been in a dinner rut would be an understatement. Anyone else feel a little “blah” about meal time lately? With “back to school” fast approaching, I’m feeling the pull to refresh our family dinner round-up. But since Joe is also coaching football and busier than ever, dinner is best in our house if it’s easy to pull together and can be prepared in advance.

This recipe was a hit with our family – well, all besides Ainsley – and we had plenty of leftovers for Joe’s lunches during the week. It was much easier than making separate components and assembling right at meal time and tasted great.

I’ll cut through all the talking and get straight to the recipe, because heavens knows that busy moms really only have time for that anyway, right? Here you go!

Chicken Burrito Bowl Bake
Slow Cooker Chicken Thighs
1 1/2 lbs. boneless, skinless chicken thighs
1 jar (16 oz.) salsa
1 1/2 cups water
2 tablespoons taco seasoning (I like Spice Island from Costco)

Burrito Bowl Bake
2 packages Uncle Ben’s Ready Rice – Cilantro Lime
1 can (15 oz.) black beans, rinsed and drained
1 can (15 oz.) sweet corn, rinsed and drained
1 can (4.5 oz.) diced green chiles
2 tablespoons olive oil
Salt to taste
1 1/2 cups shredded Mexican cheese blend
Sour cream, avocado and tortilla chips for serving

In a slow cooker, combine chicken thighs, salsa, water and taco seasoning. Cook on HIGH 3 to 4 hours or until chicken shreds easily when tested with a fork. Remove chicken thighs from slow cooker and shred with two forks. Set aside.

Microwave rice according to package directions. Transfer to a bowl along with the black beans, corn, green chiles, oil and salt to taste. Stir until combined. Pour mixture into a 13×9-inch baking dish. Top with the shredded chicken thighs. Spoon some of the remaining salsa mixture in slow cooker over top of the chicken. Top with the cheese.

Cover baking dish with aluminum foil. Bake at 350°F for 20-25 minutes or until heated through and cheese is melted and slightly bubbly. Cool 5 minutes. Scoop into bowls and top with desired toppings, such as avocado, sour cream and/or tortilla chips.

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