Monday, February 23, 2015

Snow Days

I've come to the opinion that winter must have at least one good snow.

Which means that the Louisiana girl in me is leaning more towards Arkansas than she is to her roots. Because Louisiana people get worried if the temps dip into the 40s.

Truthfully though, I've actually been quite grateful that the temps this year have been rather mild. After last winter, I swore up and down that I would never complain about the hot weather again. Being stuck inside for days upon end with young boys is very similar to forms of torture (this is my personal opinion, not based upon experience, other than the stuck inside with boys part).

Last week my boys were granted their winter wish of being able to play in snow. I was grateful that the precipitation fell as snow and not ice, as some were predicting could happen. All three boys were besides themselves with glee. Tyler would repeatedly exclaim "NOOOOO!!!!" as he looked out of the windows. It was so cute. Unfortunately for Ty, we don't have the best set of gloves for his little hands, so he didn't last too long outside the first day. But he still seemed to enjoy himself, and despite his little fingers being frozen like popcicles, threw an epic fit when he came inside and realized his outside fun was over.
(I'm pretty sure this was taken at the point that Tyler decided he'd really like to feel his hands).

The last of the snow melted over this past weekend, and I'm now officially ready for spring and summer. Keeping my fingers and toes crossed that last week's snow was our one and only snow of the season ;)

Friday, February 20, 2015

Just a Boy in his Boots.

Tyler just turned 21 months old this week.
Someone needs to come scoop me off of the floor because between that and him getting a rather horrible hair cut the other day, I'm about done in with emotions.

He's currently obsessed with boots. There is no preference to the type of boot, so long as it is a boot.

I'm currently obsessed with his big toddler belly. Every time I put a shirt on him his belly protrudes so much that the shirt gapes at the bottom. About does me in every time. Tyler now says "belly? Eat it?" because I have been known to chase him around the house chiding him that I'm going to eat his belly :)

This phase of ushering in toddlerhood is not one that is known to be easy. We definitely have our hard days. BUT. It is SO very sweet.
He is constantly asking for hugs and kisses. To play ball, and will do about anything for a laugh (which is a blessing and a curse).

He greets EVERYONE (and I do mean everyone) with a "HIIIII!", and expects a greeting in return.

He is the sweetest thing (when he wants to be)...
...and he loves his boots.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Everyday Moments.

I was washing the dishes today and it occurred to me that it felt like it had been years since I had blogged. As I was pondering why my blogging has taken a back seat over the past several months, I began to realize two things: life with three kids means that it's filled with more kids stuff and less me stuff, and life with three kids means that life is sometimes more ordinary.

Neither of these points of focus are a bad thing. While life with three kids means more kid things, it doesn't mean that our world revolves around them. I truly believe that a family that stays family centric instead of kid centric will win at life. However, it just means that there are more balls to juggle and sometimes the ones that I'd like to continue to keep in the game just have to lay low for a bit (especially in the ever demanding age of 20+ months... Lord help us all get through this phase again!). And life with three kids means that doing things often means laying low around the house.... things that are seemingly mundane but that make my life sweet at the same time.

A few weeks ago I decided to pull out my big camera. Sadly, it's gathered a lot of dust this winter as we've adjusted to the Kindergarten schedule and have become more busy altogether. As I was looking thru old pictures I realized that while I still have pictures of my younger two boys, I have missed capturing some of the everyday moments that I get to sit back and witness while I sip on my coffee in the mornings or while I am catching up on daily folders in the afternoons. To the outside world, these moments don't mean much. But they are moments that I know I will treasure forever: the chubby toddler hand gripping colors to draw a marvelous scribbled drawing, the boys playing together in the playroom, imagining that their action figures are taking over the world, backyard adventures, trampoline bounces.... the list goes on.

So, here are some of the moments. The ones that I will treasure in my momma heart. Because as hard as this season is, I've not yet met an older momma or daddy who tell me that they miss it. They all say it's the best.
(this is often what I get when I ask to take his picture... no one has time to smile for momma when you're the middle child)
unless Momma says poop. ;)
being almost two is SO SO rough, y'all.
babies are alway sweetest during their slumber hours.
life's just hard.

Monday, February 2, 2015

Whole30: My Favorite Meals, Seasonings & Salads.

When people ask what whole 30 is, and then I tell them basically what I can't eat they look at me, eyes wide and say "what CAN you eat?" I've learned to just laugh it off. To the outside looking in, it does seem like you are greatly restricted. Yet, I never tired of anything I ate the entire month (excluding eggs, which is why I started making monkey breakfast rather early in my whole 30 journey). And like I said in my previous post, I really did have time to cook. My crock pot came in REALLY handy, and I made sure that I made enough to have leftovers so I didn't feel like I was cooking EVERY. SINGLE. MEAL. A little bit of preparation goes a LONG way when you're doing the whole 30, so be sure that you know that going into it if you are thinking about trying it. Also, I know that there are a lot of people on the internets that make big, fancy paleo type meals on these diets and embrace all sorts of new things. I didn't have the energy to try that this go-round, so these are things that were family friendly, that made my life easier and that were all something that I will continue to cook even when I'm not under such a strict regimen. Hope these ideas help any of you who are thinking about doing the whole 30!

Homemade Taco Seasoning

Homemade Marinara
(I cannot, for the life of me, find the link to this recipe, so I'm going to type out how I made it. If I find it, I will hyperlink to the recipe where I found it).
1 yellow onion, finely chopped
3 28oz can crushed tomatoes (I bought one big large 100oz can from Sams and it still turned out fine)
2-3 12oz cans tomato paste
2 cups water
4 T chopped fresh parsley
1 T oregano
4 t minced garlic (I always use fresh garlic)
4 t dry basil
2 t sea salt
4 bay leaves

satee onion in olive oil. Add the remaining ingredients, bring to a boil, reduce heat and let simmer for 2 hours, covered. Once it was cooked and cooled, I put in large ziplock bags and laid them flat in the freezer to freeze. This is possibly the best marinara sauce I have ever tasted. SO SO good. And you can't mess it up, because the first batch I made I accidentally put in 4 Tablespoons of oregano and I still could have drank it straight from the stockpot. Ha!

Avocado Chicken Salad
2 large chicken breasts, cooked and shredded
2 avocados, peeled, pitted and mashed
3 T fresh cilantro, chopped
1 medium onion, chopped finely
salt, pepper, cumin, garlic powder and onion powder all to taste.
juice of half a lime
Mix all ingredients together and store in fridge until ready to eat (tastes better if you allow the seasoning to set in for a few hours before eating). This stays good for about 3 days, and was good wrapped in romain lettuce.

Citrus Rosemary Chicken.
possibly my favorite way to cook chicken on whole30. I usually just squeezed the juice of several oranges, lemons or limes on the chicken (I used all sorts of cuts; my favorite for this was the chicken thighs). Once all the juice was on the chicken I sprinkled olive oil over the chicken, seasoned to taste with salt, pepper, onion salt and garlic powder, and roasted in the oven till done (about 30-45 minutes or so... until the chicken was no longer pink). If the chicken has skin on it, it's especially good to let it broil for a minute or two before pulling out of the oven... gives the skin a little crisp :)

Citrus Cilantro Jalapeno Chicken
Kind of same as above, except I would roughly chop jalapeno and cilantro and put in the pan with the chicken. Gave it a little kick, and worked REALLY well with chicken breasts. The leftovers were GREAT on salads the rest of the week.

Homemade Bone Broth.
If I made a whole chicken in the crockpot, I would save the bones and then make bone broth. Basically remove all of the meat from the bones, and then throw the bones in a large stock pot, filling the pot till it generously covers the bones. Throw in your favorite seasonings (I usually used a blend of Italian seasonings, pepper, salt, and if I had it, fresh parsley, carrots and celery) and then let the ingredients boil in the water for several hours (this is great to do right after dinner and then let it boil all night before you go to bed, checking it periodically to make sure the water hasn't gotten too low). After it's finished boiling, simply strain the liquid from all of the solids, and freeze in ziploc bags laying flat in the freezer (this helps it thaw out faster, and also allows you to go back and set the bags upright, freeing up more freezer space). To get the most use out of the broth, I would use the broth to cook chicken (ie: chicken thighs in the crockpot), then when that was done, I would transfer the now VERY stout broth into a stockpot, shred some zucchini noodles and chop up some veggies and use the leftover chicken thigh meat to make chicken "noodle" soup.

Monkey Breakfast
(I followed the recipe linked above, but also used coconut milk to make it feel like I was eating cereal. I realize that this is somewhat controversial in the whole30 community... however it helped me get over the nausea I was getting from eating eggs every morning. I'm just not a morning person, and so some mornings I just needed a little breakfast that was more doable than an omlette and tons of veggies... although I almost always ate sauteed veggies with this.)

Salsa Chicken (using compliant store bought salsa)
Throw a couple of chicken breasts (I usually use about 3), some taco seasoning and a jar of compliant salsa (I found that the Wild Oats organic brand found at Walmart was compliant and IT WAS GOOD!) and make as a mexican salad. The boys ate this mixture on tortillas with cheese, so it made an easy meal that we could all eat without me having to have a lot of extra steps.

Paleo Mexican Soup 
(I halved the recipe and used butternut squash instead of sweet potato, since that's what I had on hand. Came out DELICIOUS and everyone LOVED it... even my pickiest of eaters. I'm pretty sure all 3 boys asked for seconds or thirds!)

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