Family

I’m Thankful for the Hard Weeks

March 21, 2017

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Last week Monday Joe and I had just returned from our trip out to California and I was looking forward to digging into a new week. Fresh off our trip, I had so many good ideas I planned to translate into work and great food finds I wanted to blog about. In my new schedule Mondays are always my at-home days with Ainsley. We go to music class, grab coffee, and do things like run errands, laundry, etc. But Monday morning it became very clear to me that what I thought was a toddler who missed momma was quickly becoming a toddler that was getting really sick really fast.

A day full of cuddles and Curious George gave way to a high fever, irritability and very restless sleep for six days and nights. Of course, we didn’t know that it would last so long at the time, so one day at home with Ainsley for me turned into an entire week, canceled weekend plans and a very tired, emotional and behind on work momma come Saturday. Was it the hardest of the hard? Absolutely not. Was it a really challenging and difficult week? Yes, indeed!

While I’m not eager to have a repeat of last week any time soon, as I found myself reflecting on the week we just had I realized how hard days, weeks and even months give way to such a season of gratitude in my heart. I can, like most people, become easily dissatisfied with the here and how. Sometimes I find myself trudging through a workout or not wanting to do that email follow-up that’s been on my to-do list for a number of days. Or maybe it’s the freelance bookkeeping – admittedly my least favorite part about my job – that I need to reconcile at the end of the month. Sometimes I bring a really crappy attitude to it all when I lose perspective of the gift of work and motherhood and finding a balance between the two.

But this week, with last week still very clear in my mind, I found myself SO eager, thankful and excited to do all the tasks that might otherwise seem mundane. Suddenly doing laundry, making toddler lunch, cleaning up subsequent toddler mess, working through emails and making the bed had an added layer of sparkle. Heck, I was just glad we weren’t watching the same 10 episodes of Curious George over and over! But most of all I was very thankful to have my bright, expressive and even strong-willed toddler back. Seeing her listless and sick for days on end without her usual spark was so incredibly sad; even though I don’t relish the meltdowns and battles of the will that come with this age, I found myself thankful that she was feeling good enough to show off that spunk.

For me, I think one of the best and most difficult parts about motherhood has been that it teaches reliance on God by stripping you of the things you think you need the most. Basic needs like sleep become a rarity and personal space, which for an introvert like me is crucial, can be stripped in an instant. And while it’s important to find rest in the margins of motherhood, God’s grace and sufficiency becomes clear when we don’t have the things we “need” to lean on. (Side note: God’s grace is also very evident in the form of moms who come and spend the weekend with you, organizing your house and doing your laundry…)

I have a feeling that in eight weeks or so, with baby girl is here, I’ll be coming back to read this post and preach to myself as I learn to navigate life with two little ones. 🙂

Madison

Family, Food & Recipes, Pregnancy

a day in the life :: pregnancy eats edition

March 3, 2017

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I’ve documented some of my daily eats on the blog in the past, but I don’t think I’ve ever done a pregnancy edition. Even while pregnant, I still eat like a robot most days, sticking to the same general rotation of foods. Dinner is usually the most varied meal from day to day, but breakfast, lunch and snacks are usually pretty similar. Here’s a look at what a typical day in the third trimester looks like for me:

BREAKFAST
I usually wake up around 5:30, drink a big glass of water and have a cup of (regular) coffee with a splash of half and half. I typically eat breakfast when Ainsley wakes up, around 6:30 or 7 which consists of:

1/2 cup oatmeal with cinnamon, stevia, chia seeds, and unsweetened almond milk
2 tablespoons peanut butter
Fresh fruit, such as raspberries, blueberries of half of a sliced banana

SNACK
I usually try to avoid having a morning snack, but sometimes I’ll have a little something to get me through until lunch, especially if I workout in the morning, I’ll drink more water and half a cup of decaf coffee sometime in the morning, too.

LUNCH
2 whole wheat pita halves, toasted and filled with hummus, as many veggies as we have on hand, avocado and lots of spicy mustard
Salad (usually a portion of a salad kit, prepared with half the dressing)

AFTERNOON SNACK
Smoothie Made With:
1 cup unsweetened almond milk
1 scoop Vital Proteins Collagen
1 scoop Vega Protein and Greens (vanilla or chocolate)
1/2 of a frozen banana
2 tablespoons powdered peanut butter powder
1/2 tablespoon chia seeds
Ice

Sometimes I’ll pair this with a couple clementines, as pictured above, or some other fruit or veggies

DINNER
This is a grab bag! It’s by far my most varied meal of the day since I make something different (with a vegetarian or fish option for me) almost every night of the week. My dinner last night was:

1 oven-roasted wild salmon filet with olive oil, salt and pepper
A huge bowl of Brussels sprouts, shredded and sauteed with olive oil, salt and pepper and a bit of grated Parmesan

DESSERT
Every night. Almost always something healthy-ish. Last night’s dessert was my favorite Microwave Chocolate Mug Cake with a tablespoon of peanut butter and a dollop of Greek yogurt. Other times I’ll have a Quest bar, microwaved for about 10 seconds to make it gooey and soft.

Madison

Family

Ainsley’s “Blue” Themed Second Birthday

February 28, 2017

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Ainsley turned two last Saturday and we had a little birthday party to celebrate! While I didn’t want to go “all out” for a second birthday celebration, I couldn’t resist throwing a party to celebrate our favorite toddler. The party was mostly family, with a few friends as well, and we kept the plan simple: Cake, letting the kids run wild around the house, fun time for the adults to chat and that’s it! Joe and I both have fall birthdays, so I’ll admit that this whole winter birthday thing has thrown me for a loop. My memory of birthday parties revolved around pumpkin patches and time outdoors in the crisp fall weather. Winter birthdays in the midwest? Well, I have a feeling we will have to put our creativity hats on as Ainsley gets older.

The theme for her party was “blue” which I realize isn’t really a theme at all, but what Ainsley wants, Ainsley gets. I had a few people ask if it was “Frozen” themed, and while we love Frozen at our house these days, that wasn’t really my intent with all the blue. Ainsley has been talking specifically about having a blue cake for her birthday for the last two months, so that was where the theme idea came from and the rest of the party sort of evolved from that.

It was an open-house style party from 3:30 to 5 on a Saturday afternoon, with cake and singing around 4 being the only really structured part of the afternoon. The food was equally simple, since we were celebrating in the afternoon. I stuck to serving cake, yogurt cups with fruit and crushed graham cracker topping and snack cups with Goldfish crackers and Teddy Grahams because they are Ainsley’s favorite. We also had little goodie bags as friends left that contained a blue and white striped lollipop but I forgot to hand out half of them!

I’ve done a little sourcing guide below for all the products and goods used for her party, but I have to do a little shout-out to Heartfelt Blooms for their amazing work on Ainsley’s flower crown. I mean, could it be any more precious? Last year I purchased a crown for Ainsley’s first birthday from an Etsy shop and was so in love with it that I knew I needed something for Ainsley’s head this year, too. When Misty reached out to me about collaborating on a crown for Ainsley’s second birthday, I jumped at the chance. Ainsley loves wearing it and I could tell that it made her feel like a little princess. Mission accomplished!

RESOURCE GUIDE
Felt Flower Crown // Heartfelt Blooms
Paper Snack Cups // Paper Eskimo
Blue Lollipops // Fun Express
Ainsley’s Dress – Embroidered Yoke Swing Dress // Old Navy

Food & Recipes

Healthy Chocolate Mug Cake for One

February 21, 2017

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I don’t care what the circumstances are, every single night I need to end the evening on a sweet note. Truth be told, my body just doesn’t enjoy or tolerate sugar well these days, probably because I don’t eat much of it anymore, but I still have a sweet tooth that begs to be satisfied when Joe and I crash on the couch at the end of the evening.

Usually I try to keep my little nightly “dessert” to around 200 calories and like for it to have some sort of nutritional value, too. Meaning I rotate fruit and Greek yogurt with honey, dark chocolate, a spoonful of nut butter, etc. on the regular. But the other night I was craving something different, and behold this chocolate mug cake was born.

A lot of the recipes that I’ve found on the web for “mug cakes” are actually pretty indulgent and hardly healthy – usually containing plenty of oil or butter, sugar, all-purpose flour and more. Hardly what I look for when I’m going for a healthy dessert.

This recipe comes in around 120 calories without the toppings (I highly suggest a spoonful of peanut butter and some fresh fruit!) and tastes like a dense, rich flourless chocolate cake of sorts. I don’t want to over-promise here, because it is a healthy dessert, but it’s totally crushing my cravings for chocolate each night and doesn’t leave me with a pre-bedtime sugar crash. Total win, right?

Healthy Chocolate Mug Cake for One
Author: 
Prep time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 1
 
I LOVE dark chocolate, so two tablespoons of cocoa powder is right up my alley. However, if you prefer a milder chocolate flavor, don't hesitate to use the suggested swap mentioned in the recipe, substituting a little chocolate protein powder for a bit of the cocoa powder.
Ingredients
  • 2 tablespoons Kodiak Cakes Powercakes Pancake Mix (or something very similar)
  • 2 tablespoons powdered peanut butter
  • 2 tablespoons cocoa powder (for a less "dark chocolate" taste, use 1 tablespoon cocoa powder and 1 tablespoon chocolate protein powder of your choice)
  • 1 packet Stevia
  • 6 tablespoons water
  • Toppings: Peanut butter, fresh fruit, dollop of Greek yogurt, chopped chocolate, etc.
Instructions
  1. In a ramekin or small bowl, combine the dry ingredients until well combined. Add the water and stir until smooth. Microwave 35 to 45 seconds or until the edges are set and center is almost set but the very middle is just slightly gooey looking.
  2. Top with a scoop of peanut butter and fresh berries, or desired toppings as suggested above and enjoy!

 

Family

To my momma friends, on the hard days.

February 17, 2017

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Well friends, it’s safe to say that it’s been a week around these parts. I don’t share that to seek sympathy or encouragement, but something tells me that perhaps some of you other moms have had one of those weeks, too?

This week what I thought was a nasty cold or strange sickness for Ainsley turned out to be two year old molars coming in, which should also be known as the worst teething we’ve ever experienced. I’m not sure “teething” really captures the pain, discomfort and volatility that we’ve experienced over the past week. There’s been very little sleep, and the sleep we did get was fragmented and restless. Days have been long, the crying and screaming spells have been loud and as timing would have it, we’ve had something every evening this week.

By the time last night rolled around, I was reeling. Exhausted and more than anything, emotionally drained from trying to muster up every last ounce of patience and energy I had to offer Ainsley. And then, 10 minutes before our baby shower guests walked in the door, Ainsley choked on all her drool and puked up her bedtime milk all over the kitchen floor. The good news is that at that point it had been such a week that I couldn’t help but just sort of shrug, clean it up and move forward rather than get frustrated or cry. #brightside

I would be lying, however, if I didn’t admit that the week took it’s toll on my mental game. Maybe the more accurate way to put that is the week took a toll on my spiritual game. By the time yesterday rolled around I was believing all the lies that so quickly creep in.

Me? Fit for motherhood? Hardly! 
If I am having such a hard time handling one child, how in the word am I worthy to have two? 
Joe has so much more patience for Ainsley than I do. I’m such an inferior parent. 

The lies, friends, were washing over me quicker than I could ward them off. It’s times like these that I’m thankful for a few things.

First, for a much needed distraction. That my husband could cuddle, rock and put Ainsley to bed while I got away from mothering to host a baby shower for a friend who is expecting twins. Do you ever find you just need to “reset” your thinking by getting out of your own head for an hour or two? Sometimes when I’m deep in it, I need a little re-set time before I can even process truth and differentiate the truth from the lies and guilt.

Second, for a serious helping of truth and a reminder of God’s grace to all of us, tired and weary moms included. That although I’m woefully inadequate to be a perfect parent, or even a good one sometimes, my weakness serves to point to God’s power and strength within me. (2 Cor. 12:9)

If you’re in the same boat with me, feeling weary and a little beat down from the week, I would highly recommend some of the resources that I’ve shared below for a hefty serving of truth going into the weekend!

A Prayer for the Mom Who is Worn // The Gospel Coalition
Joy in Motherhood // Risen Motherhood Podcast
10 Deeply Honest and Encouraging Posts for Weary Moms // Devotional Family

Love and joy to you, my mom friends! Praying that your spirit will be renewed as you go into the weekend.

Madison