Friday, October 10, 2014

Kale/Quinoa Salad

I have finally cracked the secret code that ensures your kale salad will be yummy (I know, big claim right?!). My hubby and I have loved kale salads for awhile now, but kale can be super tough so we have always loaded the kale up with lost of yummy toppings and dressing to counteract the toughness. But not any more...I discovered the secret! Lets get real most people probably already do this, but for us, it has totally knocked up our kale salad game to the next level. So here is the "secret"....massage (yes, massage!) the kale and dressing together first with your hands before adding the toppings. I know, it sounds a little weird, but seriously get your hands in there--don't use a spoon or tongs to toss the kale in your dressing--use your hands. Something about massaging the kale and dressing with your hands breaks down the toughness of the kale and it really soaks up the dressing without getting soggy.

This is our current kale salad combination that we have been loving. I make a big batch and the hubby and I eat it for lunch all week. This salad is super versatile, so you can customize it to your taste. Add pine nuts or dried cranberries. Omit the bell pepper or corn. Really the options are endless.

Kale/Quinoa Salad:

1 bag chopped kale
2 cups cooked quinoa
1 red bell pepper chopped
1/2 red onion chopped
1/2 cup sweet corn kernels
1 can sliced olives (drained)
6-8 slices bacon (cooked and chopped)
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese

3 TBS balsalmic vinegar
3 TPS olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

Add the dressing ingredients to the bottom of a large bowl. Then add the bag of kale and massage with your hands till the kale soaks up the dressing and is no longer tough. Next add the remainder of the ingredients and toss till well combined. Serve and enjoy! Like I said, this will last in the fridge for a couple days.

Seriously...SO yummy!! And good for you too. 

Friday, September 12, 2014

Finding Joy Friday

 Today I'm taking time to count some of the recent blessings in my life. Join me as I remember to search for joy in the everyday. To find joy in the little things. 
Happy Friday, friends!

I am thankful for....

Meeting my friend April's sweet baby boy 

 Date night with the hubby AND Italian margaritas 

Watching my son want to be just like daddy 

 Early morning trips to Target with my little sidekick

 A gorgeous bouquet from my thoughtful and talented mom

The little corners of our new house that are beginning to feel like home

Coffee date with my girl and my 1st PSL of the season

 Watching my little sweetie play her 1st soccer game

This amazing quinoa and kale salad that I am obsessed with. 
(Recipe to come) 

Breaking in my new donut pan with a sweet treat for the kiddos

Thursday, September 4, 2014

...Living intentionally...

I feel like I have heard that buzz phrase everywhere recently. Pinterest posts. Blogs that I read. Instagram accounts that I follow. I keep hearing--live with intention. And like anyone else, I nod my head and think to myself--wow, I really like that. What great advice.

The funny thing is. I'm still not sure that I completely know what it means to live intentionally. Then this morning, after school drop off I decided to ENJOY the morning. I intentioned (see what I did there) to not go and wash the breakfast dishes or make the beds or check all my sites and social media on my Ipad. I told myself--this morning I am going to stop and enjoy instead of getting lost in the busy.

So, thats what I did. I pulled into our driveway and pulled the stroller out of the trunk of our car. I buckled my little guy in and went for a long walk. When we we arrived back at home, I grabbed a fresh cup of coffee and then made myself go outside and sit in the sunshine as I enjoyed the cool morning air. I talked to my son. Studied the way his light brown hair curls at the back of his neck. We blew bubbles. We played catch with a bouncy blue ball. We put his shoes on and took them off about a million times. We played chase and had approximately 3 long tickle fights. And we just sat next to each other---me sipping my coffee while he sipped his milk from his favorite cup.

All I can say is that it was worth it. It was worth it to not begin tackling my long to do list as soon as I stepped foot in the door. It was worth it to hear my son's giggles and crawl around on the floor and to just---ENJOY! It was worth it to stop and enjoy this day, this season of life, and this time with my son. It was worth it, because the ironic thing is that although this morning I took time to sit and play and sip my coffee, I still got everything accomplished that I needed to. However,  instead of being annoyed that my son was in the way or getting into things while I was trying to get things done,  I intentionally spent time enjoying him and my morning and then I intentionally finished my list of tasks.

So perhaps, I now understand what all these other bloggers are talking about when they say to live with intention. They just mean to quiet the nagging voices reminding you that the floor needs to be vacuumed and the laundry is piling up and take a few moments, a half hour even, and just enjoy your life and the people in it. It's not an excuse to be lazy or to ignore responsibility, it is just an encouragement that at the end of the day you haven't only scratched everything off your to do list but you have also made a few memories and enjoyed some of the numerous blessings in your life.It is stopping to be thankful. It is living with purpose, not just checking things off a list.

So friends, I encourage you to enjoy your life by living your days with intention, not just living to get by (although there are seasons that feel like that sometimes). Celebrate the little moments. Even the mundane ones. It is worth it.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Back to School

It's that time of year. Back to school time. Some people dread this time of year and others love it. I fall into the "love it" category. I am one of those people who has always loved school, which I guess is a good thing considering I was in school from age 5 to age 28 (CRAZY!!) and during that time I began working in schools and then became a teacher. So, i guess you could say--school has always been a big part of my life.

Anyways, now as a mom, back to school has a whole new feeling and meaning. To me it is the bittersweet reminder that summer is winding down, but also the hopeful feeling that fall (my favorite time of year! Also know as pumpkin-everything season) is right around the corner. To me, it is also the beginning of more structure and routine and schedule, which I quite enjoy. I also enjoy all the little things that add up and make it such a special time--I love taking my sweet girl on a back to school shopping date and buying new clothes and school supplies. I love watching her make the pain staking decisions of what backpack? and what water bottle? should I choose. I love taking her to ice cream and talking about her new year of school and what she is excited or scared about. I like picking out her 1st day of school outfit and packing her lunch. Call me silly, but to me these little things are enjoyable.

All these little things are special and fun but, at the end of the day, back to school season has now become a season of fear for me (honest mom confession). Why fear? you may ask. Well fear, because I want to make sure that I am doing it right--giving my daughter all the best opportunities. Is public school really the right fit? Should we send her to private school? But can we afford it? What about charter school? Are we putting her into enough extra-curriculars? Are her classes pushing her enough? Does she need more speech therapy? The questions are endless and daunting and I have let myself spiral down this dark tunnel of fear and I have never landed in a peaceful place.

But the truth is that there is no perfect education plan. Which is actually difficult for me to even type, as education is something of great worth and value to me. However, the thing that has to be of MORE worth and value is that we serve a great and perfect God. He is orchestrating the details of our lives and that INCLUDES the details of our childrens' education and of each and every back to school season--no matter what it may bring. I learned this lesson (yet again) this year, as our back to school season did not start off the way we planned. In fact, it started in quite a bumpy and stressful way. My daughter started 1st grade yesterday. New district. New school. New classroom. New teacher. New friends. This was not what we had planned for her 1st grade year, but the Lord had different plans when our inter-district transfer was not approved. It is a long story and it was a long week of stressful phone calls and decisions and driving around town to both districts, but in the end the Lord (as always) knows what is best. I already love her teacher so much more than her last teacher and, from what I can see, her new classroom is the perfect fit. Thank you Lord for caring about even the little details of our lives.

I read this quote today and seems to be quite fitting:

"It takes pride to be anxious. I am not wise enough to know how my life should go." --Tim Keller

Friends, whatever may feel out of your control at the moment. Trust the Lord with it. All of it. Even the little details.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

"Gotcha" Day

It has been a year. One full year. 365 days since our world was turned upside down and we became parents. And here is the ironic, it is not our 1st child's 1st birthday. It is, however,  our 1st child's "gotcha" day and she just happens to be a darling 6 year old girl with the cutest freckled nose and the biggest blue eyes.

What is "gotcha" day? Well in our daughter's words..."It is the day we became a family day and now I will be here for all the days."

She moved into our home and hearts one year ago and our lives are all a little brighter because of her. July 2nd 2013, is one of the most surreal days of my life to date. I can still remember sitting on the floor of her new room with her and helping her unload her 3 small boxes of toys and worn out clothes. She was helpful and so happy and so trusting. It brings we to tears just thinking about how trusting she was, when she had absolutely no control or say over her life at that moment. She moved. By herself. And my friends, that was not the first time that she had to move. By herself. I hate that any child, but especially my precious daughter, had to live that and feel that extreme uncertainty.

So what can I tell you about our 1st year together as a family? Well, lets see...I used to not sleep at night for fear she would wake up in tears from nightmares, but now I get woken up in the middle of the night because she is crawling into our bed for cuddles. She used to shudder and cover her face when she spilled a glass of milk but now she says "no big deal" and grabs the paper towels to help clean up. She used to think that having a sleep over at someone's house might mean that you could end up moving there, but now she is confident in her home and in us and can actually enjoy a sleep over with a friend like a child should.

We have grown. So much.  And she has grown. So much. Many days I just marvel at her strength and bravery.

People sometimes comment that my husband and I are the brave ones. Or the selfless ones. The truth is,  we probably could never be as vulnerable and open and brave as she has been. We opened our hearts to her, but really she opened her heart up to us. There are daily struggles and a myriad of painful conversations, but from the minute she walked into this house she was our daughter. 100% and completely ours. (love, not blood makes a family)

For our 1st "gotcha" day, we took her to get her ears pierced. (somethings she has been asking us to do for a few moths now). And then it was dinner, games, rides and WAY too much sugar at John's Incredible Pizza. We told her over and over why today was so special. Every time she smiled and her eyes lit up. We can't wait to celebrate many many more "gotcha" days with our little sweetie,
that the Lord hand picked for us.

Our first 4th of July together (2 days after she came home forever) 

Monday, May 19, 2014

Reflecting on Mother's Day

(Sorry this post is a little late, I wanted to put it up closer to Mother's Day, but I was encountering technical difficulties last week)

 This I year, I celebrated my 1st mother's day and It was special beyond belief.

This little angel made me a mommy on July 2nd 2013

There were so many external blessings:
My husband and kiddos spoiled me with sleeping in and breakfast in bed complete with mimosas and an extra dose of snuggles. My daughter made me a beautiful card and picture frame at school. My mother in law sent me tulips and my mom brought me a beautiful arrangement. I was spoiled with gifts and a shopping spree at Sephora. The night before I got to enjoy a girls night out with one of my besties. We enjoyed pedicures, appetizers, mojitos, and a lot of uninterrupted conversation. I was spolied. I am spoiled. And I am so thankful.

And yet all these external blessings pale in comparison to the blessing of becoming a mom to not one but two precious kiddos in the span of one short year. I don't really expect others to understand what it feels like to take fall in love with a child that you did not give birth to. But, I will tell you that it happens and that love runs just as true and deep.

My Precious Baby Boy. He made me a mommy of  2 on November 14th 2013

I do not know the pain of child birth or the joy that a mother experiences when the doctor hands over her new born child. But I do know what it is like to meet a little 5 year old girl who has not been loved the way that she should have been and to see the pain in her eyes. I've felt the extreme burden and yet joy to know that God hand picked her for me and my husband to raise and love and point to Jesus. I know the grace that I have seen rest on my baby boy, who although he was not protected in utero, he is protected now. I know the pain of siting in court rooms and meeting birth parents and reading devastating reports.

You hear it time and time again...mothers are made in many ways. I can attest that it is true. I had my doubts that I could love one so completely who was not flesh of my flesh, but my friends...the love of Christ has nothing to do with being of the same blood as another. In fact, it is quite the opposite. The beauty of adoption and the Gospel was lost on me until I was in thick of it and now I can see no more beautiful image!

I met my children in ways that may seem odd and in ways that I never would have planned. But, I will tell you, that at the end of the day I see only their faces. Orphan babies. Abandoned children. Precious souls who the Lord, in His gracious way, has hand picked out of their painful situations. And they call me--Mom.

The purpose of this post is not to map out our adoption story (Thats a post for another time) or to convince anyone that adoption is the best course for one's life. Instead, I want to encourage you that children are not for you,mom, or for you, dad. They are not accessories or life enhancers. Parents. Mom and Dad. YOU are for your kids. You are there to love and guide and protect and lead and care for these precious lives. They are not born to make us happy por complete or satisfied. They do not come into our lives to make us feel better about ourselves. Parenting. Motherhood. At its foundation is a calling to be selfless. It is a high calling. A tough and endless job. But, it is a precious gift.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Organize Me!

I assume, many of you have similar stories to mine. The story that reads...I was doing such and such before I chose to be a stay at home mom. I'm not sure what your "such and such" was. Perhaps you were in graduate school. Perhaps you were working full time. Or maybe you were in the military. Perhaps you had your own business. Whatever your "such and such" was before the choice you made to  stay home with your kids, I assume it was a bit more scheduled than life looks when you first begin the journey of being a stay at home mom. And for many, that lack of schedule and purpose and routine can be very difficult and even overwhelming.

My "such and such" before staying home, was that I was a special education teacher who specialized in working with kiddos on the Autism spectrum. My job was demanding and the hours were long. My days were insanely scheduled and routine. I didn't realize how much I would miss that routine until it ended. Don't get me wrong, I am in no way complaining. Its just so interesting that we can be so unaware of how important something so simple, such as a schedule or deadlines, are until they are gone. And by gone, I mean gone for good. Because we all love the lack of schedule that the weekends or vacations might bring, but when day in and day out your days seem to jumble together, it is very natural to look for purpose.

So after about a month or two or staying home full time with my 2 kiddos, I had this realization and I knew I needed to be proactive and add some order and routine back into my life.

These are the things I put into place that helped drastically improve me outlook and my productivity:

1.) I began having a weekly planning meeting. I have read about these on other blogs, but never realized how useful they could be until I entered this season of life. So, each weekend, I carve out an hour to step away with my coffee and planner and Ipad and get us organized for the week. This includes planning in date nights and family activities as well as appointments or meetings.

2.) I add mundane tasks to my daily planner. Thats right...I write it down...everything! Everything I need to do, from cleaning the bathroom, to meeting a friend for coffee to taking my son to a Dr. appointment. I write it down. I write it down so that 1.) I don't forgot and 2.) so that I have something to hold myself accountable for. When I see simple things like chores listed out on my planner it gives me increased motivation to get it done and not put it off until tomorrow. We all know we love to check, scratch, and scribble things off our to-do lists.

3.) I meal plan. I know--super original, huh?! But, I tell you friends--it is a life saver. It saves on time and money and, in general, it causes you and your family to eat better. I, in fact, actually enjoy it! Its one of my favorite things to plan. So, get on Pinterest, grab a cook book, or a magazine-and just plan it out. Its worth it. This is the template I use from (
 There are hundreds of free ones online, I just keep using this one because I laminated it. So, feel free, to find what works for you.

4.) I take time to write down the little moments and the blessings of our day to day. I tried and failed to do this about a million times, until I found a fool proof, easy, and compact tool to help me achieve this goal. This little Mom's journal is set up in such a way that it literally takes one minute of your time at the end of the day. It has one page dedicated for every day of the year. And on each page, a spot to write for 5 consecutive years. It provides just enough room to write a few lines about what you are thankful for that day or what you did or what your kiddos are accomplishing or even the cute things they said that you don't want to forget. And the best part is this book lasts 5 years. So, in one place you are recording simple daily memories that you can look back on year after year. I especially love this for big events or holidays. How fun to look back year after year at what you did and how much has changed and all of the Lord's continual blessings.
(I picked mine up at Target. Surprise, Surprise)

What tips do you guys have for staying organized and productive?