Monday, June 30, 2014


I have been bursting at the seams to share this news with you. It feels like just yesterday that my good friend Samantha and I were talking about a dream she had for a mommy website over Panera mac and cheese (while simultaneously trying to wrangle our baby boys who are just about 2 months apart) and now, dreams have become reality. I have signed on as the social media manager and writer/contributor/junky for MOMquery and can't wait for YOU to join our community.

So, what is MOMquery?
MOMquery is not just a website, but a community and network of mommies and writers who provide encouragement, stories, and information on everything mommy related. Sex, pregnancy, infertility, birth stories, sleep training, discipline, postpartum depression....the list is infinite. We are here to serve the mommy (and mommy to be) community because we know it takes a village to raise our littles. 

Now hop on over to MOMquery and give us some love! 

Today you will meet our writers and later this week read some incredible birth stories from our team

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Friday, June 27, 2014

Avocado and mozzarella chicken

This meal is a mixture between a chicken parmigiana and 'Ruthie's random concoctions'. Avocado is one of my favorite foods and I love trying it in new recipes, other than guacamole. This chicken dish is easy to put together and absolutely delicious. I love finding things that Jon and I both can't stop raving about. I don't tend to make the same thing twice too often but this chicken will definitely make another appearance soon. 

4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, raw
2 eggs 
2 cups Italian bread crumbs 
2 small avocados, sliced
1 cup marinara sauce
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese

1. Beat two eggs in a shallow dish and coat each chicken breast in egg wash and bread crumbs
2. Place coated breasts in a baking dish lined with aluminum foil and bake at 400 degrees for 30 minutes (cut into the biggest breast to make sure it is white and cooked through)
3. Remove baking dish from oven and top with avocado slices and marinara sauce, and sprinkle with cheese.
4. Bake another 5-10 minutes or until cheese is melted and bubbling. 
5. Enjoy!

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Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Finish This

I have a quarter to use a pay phone, I call...Apple to find my dang iPhone! I haven't seen a payphone anywhere but an airport in the past 5 years, do they still exist

I found $25 in my pocket, I buy...a maxi skirt from Target and a pair of shoes for Ford... I am obsessed with baby shoes (just bought him some Lacoste tennis shoes for $3 at Salvation Army!)

I have 25 minutes to watch anything on TV, I watch...a rerun of Modern Family. We have about 90 on our DVR and can watch them over and over. Nothing gets me going like Phil and Cam.

A meal I can prepare, from start to finish, in 25 attempts to eat healthier, we've been using our Slice A Roo to make zucchini pasta, "zoodles", and I can throw a meal together in less than 10 minutes.

At the age of 25, I wish I would have known...well I am 25 now and yesterday in my bible study I was enlightened by this: developing your God give gifts takes time. This is a lifelong journey of discovering and growing in our spiritual gifts. God is not not holding out on you, He is growing and revealing your gifts and abilities, some slower than others. (Taken from Restless by Jennie Allen) I find so much rest in this! I don't need to conquer the world or write a book at 25. There is a time for everything under heaven. 

If I drove 25 miles from my house, I'd be...halfway to my parents lakehouse and anxious and excited to relax, unplug, and eat my body weight in Cape Cod potato chips. 

Leave a comment, finish the sentences above!

Linking up with these ladies (Nicole {Three 31Lisa {The Coastal Chicster}and Becky {The Java Mama} Jen {The Arizona Russums}) for a weekly series called Finish This. 

 As a ‘thank you’ for participating in the Finish This link up, the co-hosts are offering $25 gift cards to their favorite retailers. To be eligible to win, you must participate in Week 25 link up. Four (4) winners will be selected using a random number generator. Giveaway ends June 30. 

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Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Gettin' oily

If you've spent anytime on the internet or Instagram, you'd know the essential oils are "in" right now. I am normally somewhat weary of certain internet trends and wait until they fizzle out quickly but something about essential oils grabbed me. Seeing friends post about their babies sleeping through the night despite cutting 4 teeth thanks to lavender oil or flu symptoms diminishing within hours because of thieves or lemon. Our family seems to always get hit with a slew of sicknesses and they come on pretty strong. Ford struggles with congestion and wheezing and Jon has terrible allergies. Nose Frida, steam showers, Dayquil, Tylenol...nothing was cutting it. That is when I turned to Young Living Essential Oils and I'm kicking myself for not jumping on the wagon sooner!

What are essential oils?

Essential oils are all natural oils derived from mainly plants.  There are hundreds of single oils and blends and they date back to biblical days (think Frankincense and Myrrh) to help heal and cure all sorts of illnesses and ailments.  The oil is taken from the most important part of the plant, its "blood" basically.  It is the part of the plant that, for example, protected it from disease or insects and healed it when the plant was injured.  Without this part of the plant, it would die, and so it is compared to our blood.   It is SUPER concentrated, anywhere from 10,000-100,000 times more concentrated than herbs!  So, one drop can do amazing things.  Some people can put a drop of essential oil on their feet and taste it within 30 seconds.  Pretty impressive stuff!  

Young Living oils are 100% pure, and the the process from seed to seal is so controlled so that there are no chemicals used. Because of this, you can ingest Young Living oils, where other brands they don't recommend it.  So, you can use essential oils diffused, applied topically or by ingestion.  

My favorite oils

To avoid sickness and help get well faster, I use Thieves, which is highly anti-bacterial, anti-viral and anti-microbial.  It goes on topically (the feet usually) to help boost the immune system and can be diffused to kill 99.96% of airborne bacteria in 20 minutes!  A few drops on Jon's tongue helps clear up his sinuses and cloudiness from everyday allergies.  There is also a cleaning product line made of Thieves oil that is non-toxic {perfect for those babies that want to lick everything} and as effective as Clorox wipes!

You can diffuse oils to improve your mood {think aromatherapy without the chemicals in candles}, even helping people get off anti-depressants just by using essential oils!  Peace & Calming is a great oil for this.  It is awesome at helping kids {and grownups} fall asleep faster and sleep longer.  When Ford wakes up extra cranky or sensitive, I rub P&C on his heels and I can instantly notice a calming come over him. It’s also been shown to help people stop snoring and others with teeth grinding!

One of the most well-known essential oils is Lavender.  If you look in the baby aisle at Target, lots of lotions and baby washes include Lavender to help with sleep and relaxation.  But Lavender is great for so much more.  A friend cancelled her daughter’s tear duct surgery because using Lavender unclogged her tear duct! And it is amazing at knocking out allergies in our great allergy capital of the U.S. city! I've gotten into a habit of rubbing Lavender on Ford's feet before bed and as I am feeding him, I too, become so relaxed!

Peppermint is another great one for kids.  It lowers kids’ temperatures naturally and helps with nausea, headaches and congestion. I plan on arming myself with peppermint for my next pregnancy to ward off morning all day sickness.

Now that I am a mommy, I am willing to try anything natural and homeopathic before I go to the medicine cabinet. My story is small in this because there are so many incredible success stories from people using essential oils. ADHD controlled, cancer scans clear, asthma, diabetes, and other diseases healed. Check out these incredible testimonies here

Free oils webinar
If you are interested in learning more about essential oils, Allena and Jenna from An Oils Adventure will also be hosting a webcast on July 1.  This webinar is what got me so excited to try them out! Click here to register – there is no cost to join, and I promise it will be 1 hour or less!  Joining the webcast will also earn you 5 extra entries into the giveaway!

Buy an oils starter kit
However, there is even a better deal if you sign up now.  For the first 10 people that sign up and buy a premium starter kit, I will send you a free bottle of lime essential oil.  Think margarita, yum.  The smell of lime and lavender in that new diffuser of yours is also heavenly.  Sign up now to get this free oil! Be sure to sign up as a wholesale member to get 24% of retail prices! It is absolutely free!

Today you have the chance to win your choice of 4 essential oil samples from An Oils Adventure! Two lucky people will win.
Thank you to An Oils Adventure for sponsoring this post.

Friday, June 20, 2014

Working out at home

Jon and I both love leading an active lifestyle. We are members of a gym, walk the neighborhood as much as we can, and attempt to make healthy choices when it comes to food. I say attempt because we love to indulge and that's one of the main reasons I eat what I want. As much as I would love to eat Chick Fila everyday for lunch and cheesy enchiladas and guacamole every night for dinner, that's not reality. I workout so I don't feel guilty about eating carbs at every meal or having a small dessert every night. I want to set a good example for my son and show him that being active and choosing to eat healthy only does positive things for your life.

I worked out most of my pregnancy (read how working out changed during pregnancy here) and assumed I'd go right back to where I was pre baby after he was born. Ford's birth story was unexpected and I had no idea it would take my body so long to heal. I had no desire to be active and I was practically inhaling food since I was feeding my baby so often. And that was okay. A friend once told me about the "4th trimester of pregnancy". A time to get to know your baby, allow your body to heal, and try to figure out this new life of yours (do we ever really figure it out?!). The last thing on my mind for the first few months postpartum was working out. It was around Thanksgiving that I finally started to feel like myself. Breastfeeding was going well and I no longer had to hunch over to protect my healing c section wounds. I started taking longer walks around the neighborhood and felt ready to be active again. I wasn't ready to go to the gym though. It would take baby steps for me to feel physically and emotionally ready to go back, and again... that was okay. I picked up a few DVDs along with some hand weights and a weighted jump rope that way I could get a great workout from the comfort of my own home. 

My at home workout essentials
Jillian Michaels Yoga Meltdown
Jillian Michaels 30 Day Shred
Hand weights
Weighted jump rope
I loved being able to workout at home and still do! I could plop Ford in the swing and he would enjoy watching me bounce around while getting in a great workout. If a certain move was uncomfortable, I could stop without feeling embarrassed leaving a class at the gym. I could workout at my own convenience and at my own pace. Working out at home was a great way to prepare my body for returning back to the gym when Ford was 6 months (and old enough for the childcare). I never knew I could get such a kick butt workout at home... you haven't experienced pain until you've met a Jillian Michaels DVD! Now my goal is to go to the gym 3 times a week, it is a great mama break during the day. And even though I have my membership, there are weeks I can't work it into our schedule so I choose to workout at home, saving myself the 40 minutes round trip in the car. It's already getting pretty hot here in Texas so I prefer cardio indoors rather than the blistering heat. Lately I've been using my weighted jump rope and different online routines for a quick 10-15 minute cardio burst! 

Our kitchen is currently under reno so for the sake of chaos, we snapped these outside! 

Check out my vertical 

2 of my favorite jump rope workouts 
15 minute jump rope workout from Real Simple
10 minute jump rope workout from Fitness Magazine

Someone thought mommy jumping was pretty funny

The weighted jump rope has 4 removable weights allowing you to add up to 12 oz extra weight. It's adjustable which is perfect for my short stature and the handles are extra comfortable to grasp while I'm dying in pain. 

Any other recommendations for videos, DVDs, equipment for getting a great workout at home?

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I received one or more of the products mentioned above for free using Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Portillo's Copy Cat Chocolate Cake

If you are from around the Chicago area then you are most likely familiar with Portillo' Hot Dogs. Yummmmmmmm! We make it a point to eat there every time we visit and we are never let down (we celebrated Jon's 31st birthday there!). Not only does Portillo's have delicious Chicago style beef and hot dogs, their chocolate cake is probably the most delicious cake I've ever eaten. Not. Even. Joking. I try not to let this gross me out but their secret ingredient is mayo. If you think about it, mayo is basically eggs whipped up and cakes require eggs. If you're like me and despise the taste of mayo, you are in luck! This cake is 100% moist and chocolatey and the recipe is laughably easy! I was pumped to find this copy cat recipe and it was a crowd pleaser for sure. 

1 box Devil's Food cake mix
3 eggs
1 cup ice cold water
1 cup mayo
2 jars chocolate frosting

1. Mix cake mix, eggs, water, and mayo in a large bowl and stir to combine. 
2. Using a hand mixer, beat for 4 minutes until batter is smooth
3. Split the batter into 2 9inch round cake pans
4. Bake at 350 degrees for 30-32 minutes, depending on your oven
5. Let cool for 5 minutes then remove from pan. Let cool another 30 minutes- 1 hour before icing
6. Ice one of the cakes with 3/4 of one jar of icing. Put other cake on top and frost with remaining frosting (1 1/4 jars).

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Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Finish This

I could spend all day...snoozin on the couch and watching hours of Dateline and 20/20. Sundays after church for the past few years, this has been our Sabbath ritual. I hate scary movies but love "scary shows". Something about watching them makes my life feel normal ha! 

My primary and most essential goal in life...raise Ford to love and follow Jesus and be a little Kingdom builder. 

You might be surprise to learn...I graduated college in 3 years and I don't regret it one bit (neither does my dad's bank account!). 

My favorite place in the world home. I just love every part of it and the people who live there. I will love it even more when our kitchen reno is done this week! I also love Cabo.

I wish I had known sooner...about Target's Cartwheel app! I had seen people post about it on Facebook but never looked into it... oh how much money I could have been saving! Just yesterday I used it to score 2 pairs of shorts for $24 total (heads up all women's shorts are BOGO half off plus 15% off with Cartwheel). Saving money is like a game for me and I am super competitive at this game. 

Leave a comment, finish the sentences above!

Linking up with these ladies (Nicole {Three 31Lisa {The Coastal Chicster}and Becky {The Java Mama} Jen {The Arizona Russums}) for a weekly series called Finish This. 

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Monday, June 16, 2014

A celebration of Fathers

This weekend was one for the books. We did so much, yet relaxed just as much. We got stuff done around the house, took naps, saw family, saw friends, went to church. It was a great weekend and the best part was getting to celebrate Jon's first Father's Day! We also got to spend time with my dad who has been such a great example of a parent/father for both me and Jon and it is the coolest thing to watch him love on Ford. If you've met my dad, you've fallen in love with him. He is the best friend you will have, the hardest worker you will hire, and one of the most loving, kind, and generous people I know. Yesterday at community group, the wives went around to talk about what makes their husbands special on Father's Day. I love doting on my husband and it's not done often enough in front of others so I really appreciated this! When I think about Jon as a father, I can't imagine doing parenthood with anyone else or with any less love and support. I talked about how Ford's birth was unexpected and not exactly what we had hoped for but from the second Jon met our baby boy, he stepped into this role that God had created for him. Nothing has been hands off for Jon (although he absolutely gags when Ford is covered in food and prefers that I clean him up, ha). Men don't always dream when they are young of one day bearing children and becoming fathers (unlike most girls who have their baby names picked out by their 16th birthday). Jon was destined to be a father all along and I love watching him grow in this role as Ford grows and changes. He doesn't just help during the good times but he is there in the thick of it... sleep training, breast feeding, wonder weeks leaps. The other day I started crying and told Jon, "I love Ford so much and I just realized you feel the exact same way about him". As the primary caregiver for Ford, it's easy for me to have a one track mind about the way I feel about him, his needs, and his everyday happenings, but Jon is right along side me. I pray that Ford grows up to be as confident, generous, trusting, funny, loving, and awesome has his daddy!

Here are a few snapshots from our weekend. 

How cool is it that Ford's hair looks red in this picture? Ryan is everywhere! #redballoonsforryan

Floating with Mimi and Papa...Ford is a little fish!

Summer days really wear him out...he was dozing off on Mimi in the pool

Family selfie

This is how I will remember summer

We stopped by an awesome car show yesterday before church and Ford is already enjoying daddy's favorite hobby!

Ford's first car in 15 years?

I snapped some pictures last week of Ford in Jon's office and had a big one framed for Father's Day.  I remember every year growing up my mom would take us to Olan Mills in my dad's suits and ties to get our picture taken, I just had to live on the tradition!

To the one who teaches us how to be parents, who loves us unconditionally and without limit, who covers us in grace and mercy every single day, God we love you. Thank you for choosing Jon to be the father of my children and thank you for being my Father! 

"I will be a Father to you, and you will be my sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty." -2 Corinthians 6:18

What was the highlight of your Father's Day weekend?
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Friday, June 13, 2014

Being brave for your kids

Earlier this week I briefly talked about becoming brave as a boy mom after Ford had no interest in holding cuddly bunnies at the petting zoo and I found myself with a giant, spikey lizard in my hands. I was deep breathing and whispering to myself "It's okay, he won't bite", and watching Ford giggle and poke at the "dragon". 

Since I was young, weather has always been my #1 biggest fear because it is so unpredictable and destructive. I was caught inside a Target in the 90's during the deadly Jerelltornadoes and I've been scarred since. Last night we watched the clouds roll in as we grilled burgers on the deck and had no idea what was ahead of us. Before bed we saw alerts come in on our phones and on the news, encouraging our area of Austin to take shelter because funnel clouds were forming minutes from us. Gulp. I am so thankful Jon was home because like I said above, weather really gets me going. I started crying reading updates on our neighborhood Facebook page of people talking about putting their kids in bike helmets and babies in carseats and tucking them away in closets downstairs. We brought Ford downstairs and he thought he was pretty cool having a midnight field trip with mom and dad. We crouched in the interior powder room with pillows and couch cushions as the freight train sounding storm came through. In that moment, I knew this was the point in parenthood I had been dreading. Being brave for my son. Ford got antsy and wanted to be sleeping but I know it won't be long before his tears are out of fear and worry. And it is my job to comfort him. That is big for me... I am the one who wants to be held and comforted and told everything is okay, but when you're the parent, that's your job. 

\Even though Ford is less than a year old, he understands so much and can really feed off of how people around him are acting. I can only imagine that his sponge like abilities will get stronger as he gets older. This freaks me out. Children are so smart, yet so helpless. The look to their parents for love, support, wisdom, comfort. We prayed for protection from the storm as it rolled in but I also prayed that The Lord would build my confidence and for Him to give me the strength to be brave for my children. Just as Ford presses into me for truth and comfort, I press into Him, my heavenly Father who provides more protection and comfort that I could ever give Ford. 

But the Lord is faithful. He will establish you and guard you against the evil one. -2Thessalonians 3:3

I know there will come days where I have to put on a brave and confident face when Ford comes home with bloody knees or a broken wrist....or when he's been bullied at school. It is inevitable that Jon will be traveling during bad weather or cranky kid days. The Lord will guard me from the storms and from the fear of the enemy. My rock, my shield, my refuge.

Storm update.... no tornado touchdown in our area, praise God! It's actually the most beautiful morning and we look forward to enjoying the day outside. I hope you have a wonderful weekend!
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Thursday, June 12, 2014

Keeping Cool In The Shade

Disclosure: I got this product as part of an advertorial.

I love being outside as much as the next person but the last place you will find me is baking in the sun. My mom and sister call me out on it sometimes but I adore my pale skin because I know it is healthy! I feel like I've been a laid back and relaxed first time mom but when it comes to sun safety, you can call me sergeant. I want to spend lots of time at the pool, park, and lake with Ford but I would hate if his poor little skin got burned because I didn't prepare. I lather us both up in 50 spf sunscreen but the best way to prevent sun burn and damage is shade. We got this awesome mini splash pad at Target and have already used it a few times this summer. I can foresee it being used almost every week. When Ford is in or near water... he is happy. And when he is happy... I am happy!

One of my favorite summer products for keeping the sun off my precious pale skin is our new JoeShade Portable Sun Shade Umbrella. We have one of those huge EZ up tents for the lake and beach but the Joe Shade is lightweight, portable, and easy to throw in the back of my car to take to the pool or friends houses. It stands 8 feet tall at it's tallest setting but can also be lowered which is great to keep Ford shaded on our deck while he's making a mess in his water table. It's a UV protection umbrella and has a tilt function for when the sun is in funky places. I could write 10 more paragraphs about this awesome umbrella but I will let you purchase one and see for yourself. Keep your babies (and yourself!) safe this summer! I also keep imagining popping up our JoeShade Sports Umbrella when Ford is out on the soccer field in a few years. 

Find Joe Shade
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I received one or more of the products mentioned above for free using Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers.
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