In Blog, Food, Indulgent sweets, Mama, Mi Familia on
January 15, 2019

Going to war with sugar

I don’t know about you but I love dessert. I love chocolate. I love cookies. I love pie. I love cheesecake. I love tarts. I love all the baked goods. For my whole life I have had a mega sweet tooth. I used to joke about it and talk lightly of it but the older I got the more I would wonder if I had a problem with it. It’s always been this weird thing where I value whole and healthy foods and love cooking healthy recipes- I know my stuff about what fuels our bodies and minds and what hurts them but I would always overlook that stuff when it came to sugar. Life without sugar sounded/still sounds miserable! Baking is a love language to me, going out for coffee and a treat with a friend stirs my soul, having a late night glass of wine and chocolate with my husband gives me life. So what’s the big deal? Sugar makes me happy; it brings forth pleasure and merriment. The big deal is that I have little to no self-control with it. The big deal is that the more and more I take the time to dig into this the more and more I realize I am addicted to sugar.

 Anytime I get a craving for something sweet I feel like I need to satisfy it. Whether it’s something more “innocent” like keeping a bag of dark chocolate chips in the pantry and having a handful, or buying a special sweet treat for myself at the grocery store each week, or feeling the sudden need to bake a whole batch of cookies and eat spoonfuls of dough as I go. I haven’t shared this or wanted to share this publicly before because I think it is embarrassing. It feels like this dirty little secret that I’m a human too and I lose control with certain things in my life and can’t get a handle on them. Every year I think “how am I going to tame my sweet tooth?” How am I going to learn to appreciate baking and eating sweets occasionally without feeling a loss of control anytime I have a sugar craving or access to a room full of goodies? I never choose to share publicly because I know I am going to lose the war with sugar. I know I am weak and will cave in so why share? Why don’t I just save myself from the world knowing I am a failure in this area? Well this year, 2019, the same exact thoughts are still running through my head but the difference is this year I had the courage to put it out there to the world that I struggle with self- control when it comes to sugar and I want to change it. I am scared because I worry I will fail, a whole year is a heck of a long time to keep a goal in my opinion. Giving up sugar all together for a long or extended time seems impossible to me and I don’t think I need to do that. What I want to do is to learn how to value my health first and to gain self- control where I can enjoy sugar occasionally without letting it rule me.

My solution to this is my 2019 goal: Eat sugar only once a month. I came up with this because as mentioned earlier, baking is my love language, it is therapeutic to me. Also, I want to be able to have a special dessert date here and there. Those things are ok, we don’t need to beat ourselves up about that, but because I am recognizing I have a problem with sugar and a lack of self-control, I need to set up some rules for myself to work through it. Now if I fail at this goal I will be disappointed with myself and I don’t need shaming from anyone else because I will already feel shame about it, but I feel like this is the strongest I’ve been mentally going into a sugar centered goal and I am excited about it. I think I can do it. So I will describe my “rules” below and if you feel like this is an area in your life that has gotten out of control I invite you to join me! I would absolutely love the accountability and to see what you choose to spend your one day a month sugary treat on.

2019 Sugar once a month challenge guidelines

* One day a month (12 times this year) choose a sugary treat to enjoy.

* You can bake it, go out somewhere and order it, have it at a gathering/party, or just choose something from the store.

* I am allowing myself to still have local honey for my allergies and to sweeten smoothies as well as maple syrup for recipes occasionally.

* I am not going to use coconut sugar or other sugar alternatives for healthier baking as this can become a slippery slope for me.

* Be mindful of labels and if there is added refined sugar. I will not be ridiculously strict on this as my main goal is to get a handle on the dessert kind of sugar cravings, but I will be mindful to avoid sugary drinks and sauces, etc.

* Eating fruit is absolutely allowed and encouraged

So what do you think? Is this a good challenge for you? If you decide to join me in this New Year challenge feel free to let me know! Tag your monthly sugary treat on Instagram with the hashtag #wellfedsugarchallenge2019. You are stronger than you think and so am I. It’s time to stop letting sugar have control!

In Blog on
January 7, 2019

Well Fed Weekly Meal Plan #4: Light and healthy recipes

Happy New Year! Can you believe that it’s already a new year? 2018 was crazy and hard and wonderful and I think that is why it flew by so fast. Who ate way too much during the holidays…? I did. Whoops. I know my body will be thanking me as I strive to put healthy, nourishing, food back into it so I concocted a nice light meal plan for this week. Oh and healthy, light food can still be filling and satisfying. I hope you enjoy this week’s meal plan.

Any recipe I add in these meal plans are my own or recipes that I have found over the years and have been tried and true winners for our family. Next to the recipe I will note any changes I made and any dietary specifications. Of course, you know the size of the crowd you’re cooking for, so if you are going to follow this week’s meal plan, look at the portions to decide if you will need to double/triple/whatever the recipe.  This meal plan includes dinner, lunch, and breakfast. Yes, we eat a lot of leftovers, yes we eat the same thing for breakfast and lunch 7 days in a row (usually) but it saves money and time and that’s why I spend so much time looking for recipes and coming up with recipes we love.

Hey, stop. Before you go any further, if you haven’t read how I meal plan, you might want to check it out to understand this a little better. Cool, thanks.

Dinner 1 (M/TH): Pinch of Yum’s Avocado Kale Caesar Salad with Sweet potato Fries 

Photo by Pinch of Yum

Pinch of Yum is always dishing out some of my favorite go to recipes if you haven’t noticed already. This meal is quick to throw together. Chop up your sweet potatoes and season them as you like, throw em’ in the oven for a while and then as they cook make up your quick and easy avocado Caesar dressing and toss it together with some kale, nuts, and parmesan. Who doesn’t love the salad, French fry combo…?

Dinner 2 (T/F): Well Fed Familia’s Fall Vegetable Soup

I know I am biased because I came up with this recipe BUT this has got to be one of the coziest most comforting soups I have ever eaten and when you live in the frigid snowy north, you need cozy soups. It is vegan, full of nourishing veggies, and oh so creamy, thank you coconut milk! My husband agrees with me on this one too. It is the middle of winter so why not get cozy with this delicious soup?

Dinner 3 (W/Sat): Pinch of Yum’s Moroccan Spiced Chickpea Glow Bowl

Photo by Pinch of Yum

This nutritious and vibrant dish is so satisfying that you won’t even realize how light it is. The flavor packed Moroccan chickpeas go along so nicely with the couscous and crunch of sliced cucumbers and the tanginess of yogurt. Totally a mouth party. Two thumbs up.

Dinner 4 (Sun): Well Fed Familia’s Squash and Lemon Rosemary Empanadas

Overall I am enjoying winter but a little part of me is starting to long for summer. I think that is why these wonderful vibrant little empanadas made it into the meal plan this week. If you are from the South you know all about empanadas but up here in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula the people here would consider this a pasty. Funny how similar foods are called something else in different regions. Anyway, these empanadas are light, fluffy, and filled with healthy veggies and goat cheese and light flavors such as herbs and lemon. Make some hummus and dip them for extra flavor points.

Lunch for all: Cookie and Kate’s Spiced Vegan Lentil Soup

Photo by Cookie and Kate

To pull of feeding 3 of us lunch for a full week I make a GIANT pot of this and then a giant pot of rice because my husband eats 3-9x as much as an average human. This soup is a favorite around here. It is such a healthy and light soup but the full flavors definitely don’t leave you lacking. It is quick and easy to throw together and then you have lunch for the whole gang for days!

Breakfast for husband and toddler: Old fashioned rolled oats with berries, bananas, and peanut butter every dang day because it is cheap, filling, and nutritious.

Breakfast for me: Well Fed Familia’s Vegan Morning Power Protein Smoothie

I get fixated on a breakfast item and eat it for breakfast everyday for about a month and then I get sick of it and take a few months off before I eat it again. Well in September I got on a smoothie kick. Loads of goodness and healthy protein keeps me fueled and full for the morning until lunchtime and my toddler always steals at least 10 sips as well. If you don’t want to do the protein powder just throw in ¼ cup of oats which will give you extra protein and help to fill you up.

I hope this helps give you some ideas for your weekly menu. Whether you use just one of these recipes or the whole meal plan, I wish you happy cooking and eating. As always, stay well fed my friends!

In Blog on
December 17, 2018

Vegan Peppermint Fudge Protein Popsicles and my vegan morning power protein smoothie

Hello everyone and happy holidays! Today I am excited to share that I have partnered with Vegan Smart to share two fun and fabulous recipes with you! The first recipe is for Vegan Peppermint Fudge Protein Popsicles. This was such a fun one to make. I got my toddler involved and she loved helping however I think she more so just anticipated eating one of the delicious pops we made. She also thoroughly enjoyed crushing the candy canes in a bag and stealing little bits as we dipped the popsicles in them. These lovely pops are delicious, festive for the holidays, and a fun way to get in organic plant based protein. Vegan Smart Protein Powder is Vegan, non gmo, soy free, gluten free, dairy free, and has no cholesterol. Cool beans! Definitely something I feel real good about putting in my body.

My daughter crushing the candy canes with a soup ladle

The second recipe is for my Vegan Morning Power Protein Smoothie. Now a funny thing about me is I get fixated on a breakfast item and eat it for breakfast everyday for about a month and then I get sick of it and take a few months off before I eat it again. I do this with oatmeal, granola, smoothies, etc. Well in September I got back on a smoothie kick. I typically don’t like smoothies very much but I perfected my smoothie recipe and I have been obsessed with it for almost three months now. I wake up and get excited about it everyday it’s funny actually. Loads of goodness and healthy protein keeps me fueled and full for the morning until lunchtime and my toddler always steals at least 10 sips as well.


Vegan Peppermint Fudge Protein Popsicles

Yield: 6 Popsicles

Ingredients: 

For the popsicles-

2 scoops Vegan Smart Chocolate Fudge Organic Pea Protein Powder

1 15oz can full fat coconut milk

1/2 cup almond milk

2 drops peppermint therapeutic grade essential oil OR 1/2 tsp peppermint extract

*need a popsicle mold

Peppermint fudge shell-

1/4 cup melted coconut oil

1/4 cup cocoa powder

1/4 cup maple syrup

1/4 tsp vanilla

pinch of salt

4 crushed candy canes to sprinkle on top

Popsicle Instructions:

1) combine all ingredients for the popsicles in a blender and pour even amounts into popsicle mold. Leave in freezer 3+ hours.

2) When you are ready to remove the popsicles to dip them, carefully run each popsicle mold under warm water for 5 seconds and carefully pull off the molds. Set on a tray to dip and consume immediately or put back into the freezer with a lid or foil on top.

Peppermint fudge shell instructions- 

1) Combine all of the ingredients except the crushed candy canes in a bowl. Dip each popsicle into the fudge shell and immediately sprinkle the crushed peppermint candy canes on top while the shell is still wet. Work quickly as the shell hardens fast.

2) The cold frozen popsicles should help the shell to freeze on very quickly.

3) Enjoy!

Vegan Morning Power Protein Smoothie

1 scoop Vegan Smart French Vanilla (or chocolate fudge) Organic Pea Protein Powder

1 tbs milled flax seed

1 tbs hemp seeds

1 tsp chia seeds

1 small banana

1 handful spinach or kale

1 tsp spirulina powder

1/4 cup frozen blueberries

1 spoonful peanut butter

Instructions:

Add all ingredients to a blender and mix well. Pour into a glass and enjoy!

 

 

 

In Blog, Mi Familia on
December 10, 2018

How to thrive after a cross country move (and the hard reason we had to move)

The last few years have been really hard in general. We have had so many challenges and soul crushing hoops to jump through. We couldn’t have survived it without putting our hope and trust in the Lord as he kindly held our hands and helped us see his path. One of the biggest challenges was when my husband lost his job last April. Let’s back it up- my husband is truly an amazing guy. He is honest, smart, skilled, patient, true, loyal, and such a hard worker. Unfortunately he was working under an incredibly unfair, unpleasant, and even malicious mentor in his last PhD program. It was making our life so incredibly stressful and miserable on top of the fact that we had just lost our dog very traumatically, gone through our foster/adoption journey (which was one of the few highs (and highest high) of last year, and then my cancer diagnosis. This guy had threatened poor outcomes for my husband if he took a day off for our daughter’s adoption and made my husband feel bad for asking for a day off when I had major surgery to take care of me. Yeah, it was that bad. We don’t miss being under his unfair and vicious rule one bit.

Many challenging months came and went. In late March I was finally given the green light of health after many oncology appointments. Right after this news was shared, my husband was unfairly kicked out of the PhD program. Anyone who knows my husband was in absolute disbelief. After all of the crap we had just trudged through now we had no vision of our future. It takes months and even years to get into PhD programs and to match with a mentor who is willing to take you on. This was all thrusted on us in April when PhD programs were already filled and mentors had no room for more doctoral students. What the heck were we going to do? How were we going to make a living? We had just moved our life from San Antonio to Dallas and less than a year later we are finding ourselves in this position. How would my husband get to the career he wanted which is impossible without a PhD? We were at a total and utter loss. I will skip the details for time’s sake but God…really that is all I can say.

Our tearful prayers on our knees, our family and friends and church prayed alongside us and we were granted an incredible opportunity that only God could have come up with. In a situation that should have been impossible, too late, too many obstacles we found ourselves moving to the tippy top of Michigan’s upper peninsula. I literally didn’t know Michigan had an upper peninsula until the day my husband brought up this crazy opportunity. We were on the edge of our seats for a good couple of months waiting to see if this was too good to be true, but indeed it all worked out!

 In July we made the move from Texas up to Hancock, Michigan. My husband has almost completed his first semester at Michigan Tech which is a wonderful and very prestigious university. He is respected and treated kindly and fairly at work. It is actually a healthy environment.  It is a vastly different way of life up here. We live in an isolated area surrounded by unreal beauty. The shores of Lake Superior, snowy hills, and waterfalls now surround us. We don’t want to be here forever but what a cool opportunity this is. We are so far from family and everything familiar but we have been able to thrive in our new home. This was the longest intro ever to say that today I wanted to share 10 tips with you about how to thrive after a cross country move.

Saying hello to our new house!


1) Find a church/group to be a part of

For us finding a church that supports our beliefs was key. Church is very different up here and we are still trying to get used to it but we have been able to plug into church and a small group that loves us, prays for us, and most importantly points us towards God.

2) Explore! Moving can literally feel like a vacation for the first few months, enjoy it!

Find all the places, see all the things, find the hotspots that everyone talks about and the less known places that can become special to you. For us that has meant hiking waterfalls, finding sled hills, playing on the shores of Lake Superior, enjoying local bakeries and beautiful views in our new city.

3) Find a favorite restaurant

If you couldn’t have guessed, we are major foodies and good food is important to us. It was so hard to move away from a booming food scene in TX to where we are now. Thankfully we have found a few restaurants we really like.

4) Find a coffee shop or a space you can enjoy being at

I am all about having a place with a nice aesthetic, preferably a good coffee shop, for having time with a girlfriend or getting some work done. There are a couple of coffee shops here that fit the bill for me and have become places I can look forward to spending time at.

5) Check out the grocery stores around you and pick the one that works best for you

This one was hard for me when we moved up here. We are in such an isolated area so we don’t have as much up here. I am used to having any and every store within a 10 mile radius but now I make do with the stores here. Thankfully I have been able to figure out of the handful of stores here who has what and how I can get almost all of the ingredients and products I need. Online shopping is a life saver up here!

6) Put yourself out there to meet new people

This one can be big and scary but you just have to do it in order to thrive. We were made for community with other people. I started going to the library story time with my toddler and that was an outlet to socialize, I added some moms on Instagram that I saw lived in the area, I showed up at community events and talked to people. You have to put in the work to meet people.

7) Join some kind of group that meets regularly

There aren’t many groups up here where we are but we do have a MOPS group (mothers of preschoolers) and that gave me an outlet to meet other women in the same season of life as I am. There are all kinds of groups to find people you might get along well with, especially if you are in a bigger city. It is well worth the effort to find one!

8) Invite people over, don’t wait for someone else to invite you

It can be easy to feel like as the new person in town that you should wait to be invited to other people’s homes, but you can actually be the first to have people over. Just another way to love on others and start building your community.

9) Download the Marco Polo App or facetime regularly with your people; it is good for the soul

Oh goodness this has saved me time and time again. When I am having those sad, homesick moments, longing for familiar faces or friends and family being able to see actual faces has been so good for the soul. Thank goodness for technology. I am able to keep up with my best friends from home and talk with family “face to face (face to phone?)” regularly.

10) Make a bucket list of all the things you want to do in your new place

When you move somewhere new make a big list of things to do in your new area for your time there. This gives you something to look forward too. Things to put on the calendar and new adventures to be had.

Totally new climate means totally new adventures!


Well that is all I have for now. Anytime I open my maps app I still can’t believe my little dot is up almost in Canada. What a crazy journey we have been on. We are making the most of our time here on the Keweenaw Peninsula and it’s been such a fun adventure. As much as we hope to move back to TX or at least closer to TX after Steven finishes school, I would say we are thriving up here. I hope these tips help you too!

In Blog on
December 3, 2018

Grab and Go Trail Mix

Howdy howdy!

Another Monday, another blog post. Does Monday work well as a blog posting day? I am not sure. Honestly it seems like people are starting to prefer no blogs and everything shared on Instagram. What do you think? Do you have an opinion on this? I have so much to learn about in regards to finding success in this whole food and lifestyle sharing thing. I might as well grab a snack as I try to figure this all out. What should I eat…OH! How about my grab and go trail mix?! How is that for the cheesiest most lame segway into today’s blog post? I’m sorry, I really couldn’t not do that.

Ever since I met my husband he has been nuts for nuts. Another lame joke, are you really surprised? He is all about the trail mix or GORP as the true outdoorsy people call it- Good Ole’ Raisins & Peanuts. This little trail mix is one I have been making for him every week since we got married. I love a store with a good bulk bin section and that is the best for making customized trail mix. If your store doesn’t have a bulk bin section then just find bags or cans of all of the individual trail mix components and mix at home.

This is my husband’s tried and true favorite mix. If it were me, I would totally add some dark chocolate chips in the mix because #chocolateislife. Am I right or am I right?

This isn’t a super fancy or complex post at all but here it goes-

1 cup raw peanuts

1 cup raw pecans

1 cup raw almonds

1 cup dried cranberries

1 cup raisins

1 cup banana chips

1/2 cup dried coconut shreds

Add everything into a big Ziploc bag and shake and mix around, maybe even shake your booty a little bit for a good time.

You can of course do a ratio and amount that you like and add or subtract other nuts or dried fruits, etc. He used to really enjoy the honey sesame sticks in the mix. This is what we do around here and it makes for a healthy, protein rich, sweet tooth satisfying snack. Hope you enjoy! Do you have a favorite pre-made mix you buy? Or do you prefer to make your own?

In Blog on
November 28, 2018

Adoption Day

Hello friends,

Today is our one year adoption anniversary! I sat down to write some words about our adoption day and this is what came out. It is more of a walk through of what our adoption day looked like. It is informal and maybe put together in an odd format but this is it. This is adoption day through my eyes.

Coordinating outfits, people gathered, judge in a happy mood because he finally has a happy thing to do in court. Smiles, tears, and celebrating. Months and sometimes years of paperwork. Choosing to love a child for better or for worse after initially choosing to love a child whether they will be with you for a day or for the rest of your life. Ups and downs. One might call that an emotional rollercoaster.

The family court hall is full of people. Some are there for the worst day of their life. Their family is in the process of being broken apart. Some are there for the best day of their life. Their family is legally saying yes to being together forever. If you are lucky like us you have a ton of people rallying in a tiny court room. You have family, friends, siblings in another state watching via facetime, college roommates, and if you are really lucky your foster and adoption journey has extended your family even further by welcoming your child’s biological siblings and their families into the mix.

The judge smiles. The judge goes through the legalities to make it official. The judge cracks jokes that he can only crack during adoption court. The judge asks you if you will provide for, love, and care for your child forever. With a confident but emotional crack in your voice you say yes.  You look at your child, you look at your spouse, you look at all of the loving and caring faces in the room that supported and loved you through this journey to get you to this point. It feels surreal.

So many pictures are taken. Picture with the judge, picture with the CPS workers, picture with your child’s guardian ad litem, pictures with every single one of the people who came to share this day. You leave the courtroom and go back in to the halls of the family court unit. You are reminded again that your best day is someone else’s worst. You don’t let that sit lightly and choose to remember that. Hugs are given, tears are shed, babies are getting grumpy and overwhelmed, but your heart is so full. You officially share the same last name as the small person you call your child.

Thankful. Honored. This is adoption day.

In Blog, Dairy Free, Dinner, Food, Recipes, Vegan, Vegetarian on
November 20, 2018

Fall Vegetable Soup

Happy Thanksgiving week! It really doesn’t feel like Thanksgiving where I live because everything is COVERED in snow. Like multiple feet of snow already. WHAT?! So my brain is already in Christmas mode BUT I love Thanksgiving and I love Fall so I am going to reel it back a bit and throw out a wonderful warm fall vegetable soup that will keep you warm and satisfied this season. This fall vegetable soup would even do great on a Thanksgiving table this week as a unique healthy option.

My fall soup combines butternut squash, sweet potato, carrots, apples, and onion all together with buttery and sage undertones. HECK YES. Mmmm. Major mouth party. Ok, that got a little weird, sorry.

Make it and pair it with a good ole salad and something to dip in it, you know a good soup vessel to soak up all the thick creamy goodness in your bowl. Ok, let’s get to it. This soup doesn’t need any more of an intro!


Ingredients: 

1 yellow onion

1 small butternut squash

1 medium sweet potato

2 medium carrots

2 Honeycrisp apples

4 garlic cloves smashed

2 fresh sage leaves finely chopped

1/4 tsp thyme (dried or fresh)

2 tbs butter (use vegan butter to make this recipe fully vegan)

1/4 tsp cinnamon

4 cups vegetable broth

1 can full fat coconut milk

salt and pepper to taste

Instructions: 

  1. Chop onion and melt butter in a pot over medium heat. Add chopped onion into butter to sauté for 2 minutes stirring often.
  2. Add smashed garlic cloves, cinnamon, thyme, sage, salt and pepper and stir around 2 mins.
  3. Add diced butternut squash, diced sweet potato, diced carrots, and diced apples. Stir for 2 minutes.
  4. Add vegetable broth and bring everything to a boil until vegetables are penetrable with a fork. Then add in coconut milk.
  5. If you have an immersion blender, lucky you, stick that guy in and blend everything up, if not, transfer everything carefully to a blender and blend away until everything is nicely pureed.
  6. Enjoy!

 

 

 

In Adoption, Blog, Foster care, Mama, Mi Familia on
November 13, 2018

Beautiful Heartbreak

I have had these words pent up in my mind and deep down in my heart for a while now. These words have stemmed from thinking of all of the aspects of adoption, of foster care, of infertility, of beauty and of heartbreak, not just the joy that adoption has brought us. How did we get here? How did I get to this exact moment in life where I am a mother of a brilliant little girl through foster care and now adoption?

Ever since I can remember I wanted to be a mom. The idea of family, of nurturing, of growing, of encouraging, of being together, was my biggest hope in life. I knew about adoption because I have extended family members who were adopted and while that wasn’t a big topic of discussion in our family I wonder if that subconsciously played a role in my deep interest in adoption. In fifth grade I did a research project on adoption that was presented in front of my whole school. You see, it seems like I was knit together in a special way that adoption would forever be a part of my life.

While I always hoped to adopt, I didn’t know that I would have to trudge through two painful and heartbreaking years of infertility to get to the place of feeling God’s hand leading us in that direction. Infertility was heartbreak that later turned into the most beautiful surrender of my life. Surrendering what I wanted for the sake of finding peace in what God’s will was for my life.

In adoption there are three parties involved. The birth family, the adoptee, and the adoptive family. It would be the biggest disservice I could do to my daughter not to recognize the heartbreak involved in her coming into our lives. While our daughter sadly was an orphan at the time she came into our family, I still am heartbroken for her birth family. When I take the time to think of her story, I am still heartbroken for her, even though she feels 100% my daughter and to be honest in my day to day life it’s easy to forget that she was born to another woman. I grieve for the loss of opportunities her birth parents had, what kind of parents could they have been if they were given the same opportunities I was? What kind of life could my daughter have lived if her birth parents were able to raise her and love her all of her days? These are the kind of questions that could be easy to ignore and not ask if I wasn’t willing to dive into the difficult intricacies of adoption emotions. You see, if we lived in a perfect world, adoption wouldn’t exist because there would be no need for it. We obviously don’t live in a perfect world though and there are no perfect people. It is my greatest honor to be an adoptive mom. I am just a mom actually. I am no different than any other mom except I have my little girl’s story to honor. I have her questions to answer, I have a delicate dance to do to honor her heritage, one that is so vastly different from my own, I have her birth family, that despite what choices they did or didn’t make, to hold in my heart and my daughter’s heart because she deserves to know her story, her roots.

There is no other way I can describe the emotional aspect of adoption other than beautiful heartbreak. Beautiful because adoption made us a family. Beautiful because adoption gave our daughter parents to keep her safe, to stand next to her and encourage her/be there for her for life. Beautiful because it fulfilled my husband and I’s dream to become parents, it brought life, laughter, boundless joy, memories to forever be made, and lessons that needed/ need to be learned into our home.  Beautiful heartbreak because no matter how beautiful adoption is, it involves heartbreak. As mentioned in the previous paragraph there is so much to be grieved. I wonder how often E’s birth parents cry over her? I don’t know if they do but I would imagine despite the choices they made that their hearts are broken.  As my daughter grows I know there will be times, maybe frequently, maybe infrequently, where she will wonder what life would have been like if she was with her birth family. I can’t say what she will or won’t experience heartbreak over in regards to her story, but I know there will be times where it is hard for her, rightfully so.

As an adoptive mom I am learning so much lately. In many cases, our adopted children grieve and struggle with their adoption quite frequently, especially if they are held back from knowing their story. We need to sit with them, we need to listen, we need to point them to important truths, remind them of how loved they are, but most importantly we need to just listen. Despite how loved they are by us, their adoptive families, and how much they love their families in return, it is something we need to talk about often and stand next to them as they find healing/find answers/process things.

I pray God’s grace in my daughter’s life. I pray that she would be confident in who she is as a Child of God, who she is as a woman, who she is as our daughter, and where she came from. I pray that her story would empower her to help others and be the best person she can be. Beautiful Heartbreak and all. 

In Blog, Dairy Free, Food, Vegan, Vegetarian on
October 15, 2018

Top 10 easy, healthy, toddler snacks

Do you ever get in a snack rut for healthy easy ideas to keep your kiddos well fed? I compiled a list of our top 10 easy, healthy toddler snacks. I hope you get some good ideas off of this list. Happy snacking!

Ruby Rockets Fruit and Veggie Coconut Yogurt Tubes

Yall! These are hands down my favorite healthy toddler snack. Yogurt in a tube is so quick and easy to hand to a little one but most are full of sugar and not dairy free. I came across these in the store over the summer and bought them because they are full of fruit, full of veggies, and dairy free and have no added sugar. What a win! They taste like a smoothie in a tube and sometimes I’ll even eat them too.

Ruby Rockets Fruit and Veggie Better Bars with Coconut Milk

These are such an awesome healthy treat for toddlers, actually really anyone! Your kiddo gets to eat a popsicle that tastes delicious and oh hey, it is full of fruit and veggies, and is dairy free and has no added sugar. Boom. What!? Best mom win and kid win ever. Ruby Rockets was so kind to send us a box of each of their four flavors to try. My toddler’s favorite is the strawberry and my favorite is the fudge. While eating these popsicles you would never know that they have beets, squash, and carrots in them!

Larabar

Made entirely of fruit and nuts, Larabar is a perfect healthy toddler snack. These bad boys are dairy free (even the ones with chocolate chips), gluten free, certified kosher, and chock full of goodness! My toddler specifically loves the Blueberry Muffin and Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip flavors. These are filling and if your kiddo can’t handle holding the whole bar yet just chop them into little cubes and put them in a snack cup.

Popcorn

Popcorn happens to be my favorite snack, so naturally my daughter has developed a love for it as well. There are so many awesome healthy popcorn brands these days that can be found at most grocery stores. We love Boom Chicka Pop, any store brand organic pre-popped popcorn, or better yet when I have the time I pop our own at home. It is so easy- add some oil to a pot, I use coconut oil, once it is heated you add the kernels, it provides quite the fun activity to gather round and watch it pop, then add desired toppings. We like it simple with salt and pepper. I do not recommend microwave popcorn!

Rice cakes

There are so many different flavors to choose from. We like to buy plain rice cakes and spread peanut butter on top. It can make quite a mess letting a toddler walk around with a peanut butter covered rice cake though. If you are worried about the mess just give it to them plain!

Apple sauce

No explanation needed for this. Just a tried and true kiddo favorite through the years. Praise the Lord for applesauce squeeze pouches! Just make sure apple is the only ingredient for the healthiest option.

Picture by My Kids Lick the Bowl

Homemade Muffins

Homemade muffins take some time up front but once they are done you have quick go to snacks for the rest of the week. There are so many healthy muffin recipes online, our favorite is this ABC Muffin recipe which has apples, carrots, and bananas in the muffin. Littles eat these up!

Fresh or Dried fruit

My toddler loves grapes cut in half, apple slices with peanut butter, bananas, ok , she actually loves pretty much any fruit. If you don’t want the sticky hands try raisins, craisins, or any other dried fruit but make sure it is a good size for your child. My little one loves to walk around and eat this out of her snack cup.

Pretzels

This is a simple, non-messy snack! We love the plain pretzel rods and they provide a perfect crunch that my daughter loves. A great easy snack for on the go.

Chocolate cashew milk

One of my daughter’s favorite treats is a cup of chocolate cashew milk. This is the most sugary idea on the list but I included it because it has 55% less calories and 33% less sugar than lowfat dairy milk. It is delicious, filling, and sometimes mama has a glass as well. Just pour a small serving in your toddler’s sippy cup and voila!

In Blog on
October 8, 2018

You aren’t alone if you feel lonely

94% of the time I feel fulfilled, thankful, and happy- I have the kindest husband, an amazing miracle that I get to call my daughter, wonderful family and friends, hobbies, hopes, and dreams- nevertheless there is a persisting loneliness, a feeling of isolation, being different, a feeling of being left out, that I can’t seem to kick the other 6% of the time. There are factors that have caused me to feel this way such as the fact that in the past two years we have moved twice. Both moves were to places where we knew no one. New adventures, new cities, starting over- that can be exciting, I’m the kind of person who welcomes change, but it can also be so lonely. Or sometimes I feel lonely because I feel different or less than. I let these negative feelings isolate me. Often I wonder if I am the only one. Many days, especially as a work from home mom, can feel mundane, same ol’ same ol’. While I am cleaning up the kitchen or changing diapers I think that everyone else in the world must be having a grand old time- dinner parties, concerts, travels- and I am just at home. By myself, day in and day out, with my toddler while my husband works. The occasional play date, date with my husband,  mom’s night out, facetime chat, hang outs with childhood/college friends, are life savers and I am so thankful when I get to do those things. If you are sitting there too feeling like you are all alone in your feelings of loneliness, like life is a party or an exciting adventure all the time for everyone else- first, you are not silly or pathetic for having those thoughts, and second- more and more research shows that that is not the case.

In fact, I did my own tiny little “research study”( if you can even call it that) on Instagram stories. I took a 24 hour poll and asked “do you feel lonely?” I had 149 responses in 24 hours. 116 out of 149 people responded yes. That means 78% of the people who responded to my story shared that they feel lonely. I had 576 people view the story and who knows how many more would have responded yes- maybe some didn’t take the time to read the question, maybe some didn’t care, or maybe some didn’t feel the desire to be vulnerable enough to share that they too feel lonely. The latter is only a guess. Next I asked if those who feel lonely feel lonely occasionally/situationally or constantly. 151 out of 174 voted their loneliness was occasional or situational while 23 out of 174 shared it was constant.  The next question I asked was for stay at home parents or those who work from home to share if they felt lonely in this role or not. 71 out of 100 people shared yes, they feel lonely in these roles, 29 did not feel lonely in these roles. The last poll was for people who work in an office/social setting. I was surprised the most at this response- 49 out of 68 people shared they felt lonely at work whereas 19 out of 68 shared they do not feel lonely at work.

So why are we so lonely? We live on a planet with 7 billion plus other human beings? I asked people to respond to my Instastories with what triggers loneliness and many of the responses involved the following- comparing personal circumstances to others, moving, isolating illnesses such as cancer or a difficult circumstance like infertility, shame from past mistakes, having a spouse who travels or works a lot, singleness, seeing others enjoying time together without you, losing friendships, spending a large majority of time alone for work or as a parent, feeling like no one can relate, mental health struggles, and grieving through a difficult time.  I had pages and pages of responses. I was touched, saddened, and blown away by the amount of responses I got to this question. It is a very vulnerable thing to admit what causes you pain, so thank you to those who took the time to share.

Ok, the most important thing now that we have admitted that many of us experience loneliness- let’s figure out how to work through these hard feelings. First, I want to establish that there is no shame in loneliness. This is a reminder to myself as well. For whatever reason there is a stigma about being lonely, it makes us feel embarrassed to admit our loneliness. Maybe we think that sharing that we are lonely means we have no friends or less than desirable circumstances. Well, remember at the beginning of this blog I shared all the wonderful things I have going on in my life? I have some awesome circumstances yet I still have these occasional feelings of loneliness. I bet you also have some amazing things and amazing relationships in your life. Second, in these times of loneliness remember your worth- whether you believe it or not you are a beautiful creation by the almighty God who created the universe. He looks at you and smiles; after all, you were created in His image. Third, remember the things that are life-giving to you. I mean a hobby, a place you can get to easily, something you can do or look at, or somewhere you can be that brings you joy, something that breathes life into you again. Fourth, take a bold step and call someone up to hang out! Seriously, I know it sounds scary but I have a good idea that person you have in mind is lonely at times as well and maybe wishing someone would initiate a hang out. Be the brave one, call someone up and plan a coffee date, or invite them over for dinner or a play date.  Fifth, why not start up a conversation in the waiting room or if you see another person alone at a coffee shop? As people we crave connection. If you always shy away from talking to others you eliminate your potential to make new friends. Sixth, remember that you are not alone. There are 7 billion plus people on this earth and no matter what each person’s personal circumstances are each of us has emotions that lead us to feel lonely at times. Maybe you picture some celebrity living the high life or a famous instagrammer whose life looks picture perfect- I promise, their life is lonely too sometimes. Seventh, get involved with something– find a place to volunteer- this will allow you to help and meet so many new people, your church, or a church in general if you don’t go, find a group of people who share an interest of yours- a running group, an artist group, a group for moms with toddlers, etc. Branch out! The things that help me when I feel lonely are praying and giving it to God, spending time with my family, time with a friend, making a gratitude list, starting a positive and energizing conversation with someone, watching one of my favorite shows, getting outside and going on a walk, listening to a podcast, and reading.

Loneliness doesn’t have to be embarrassing. It is a human experience. Let’s talk about it. Vulnerability encourages vulnerability. If I am able to help or encourage someone by admitting something taboo about myself, than I am more than happy to do that. So today world, I tell you that I indeed feel lonely and isolated sometimes. You are not alone if you experience this from time to time as well. We cannot eliminate the feelings of loneliness altogether but we can find ways to help our aching hearts in times of loneliness.

“Be strong and courageous. Do not fear or dread, for it is the Lord your God who goes with you. He will not leave you or forsake you.” Deuteronomy 31:6