Travel Often

“I see my path, but I don’t know where it leads. Not knowing where I’m going is what inspires me to travel it.” — Rosalia de Castro

Love Deeply, but Laugh Along the Way

"Happiness is only real when shared." - Jon Krakauer, Into the Wild

View Marriage as an Adventure

"Love is a flower which turns into fruit at marriage." ~Finnish Proverb

Fuel your body with GOOD (It's the only one you get)

He who has health has hope; and he who has hope has everything. - Arabian Proverb

Open your Soul to Motherhood

A Grand Adventure is About to Begin - Winnie the Pooh

A New Kind of Love is Born

Mothers hold their children's hands for a short while, but their hearts forever.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Am I 6 weeks or 7?

week 6 or 7 (February 27, 2014)

I am freezing!!! This weather is madness. Another TWO more weeks of this Polar Vortex. No more, please!!!! My commute in for a whole week has been well over an hour – the roads are so icy!

Anyway, we’ve survived a horrible week of illness. Jackson came home with pneumonia and his first ear infection and had to get on his first round of antibiotics. I’ve been trying to avoid medication but this little man was SICK SICK SICK. He even looked awful. Poor buddy. He was pretty bad for five solid days. It was not fun. Then Karl ended up getting it and then my dad and then Karl’s dad. Whoa. The illness wiped out Jackson’s daycare AND my work. What a nasty bug.
Me at 6 or 7 weeks. Not sure!

I kept praying it wouldn’t hit me, though I actually wanted it versus Jackson. I just knew I had to stay healthy for baby. I have been downing SO MUCH WATER. And I’ve been eating kale and lots of oranges and mangoes and kiwi and berries. I avoided sugar completely. Yes, I know there is fructose in fruit, but it’s the natural kind. The thing is, I’m wondering if this is helping me avoid morning sickness??? I’ve actually felt pretty good.

This also makes me nervous. Everything OK down there???

My symptoms during week seven:

  • HUNGRY ALL THE TIME. I’ll even eat two helpings during dinner and I’m hungry 20 minutes later. When I let myself get too hungry, I start to feel ill. Time to fatten up.
  • I wake up lightheaded and weak most mornings so I shovel down a handful of peanuts before I get out of bed. It’s WORKING!
  • Lightheaded
  • Frequent urination. I’m going maybe 3-5 times during the night.
  • Will get random headaches here and there
  •  Some days I get very exhausted. Friday I sat on the couch and fell asleep during Jackson’s nap. Sunday I laid down when Jackson did and slept for almost two hours. I’m also going to bed around 9:30 and getting up around 5:50.
  • After I eat lunch, my stomach feels nauseous and usually when I’m cooking dinner I am so hungry my stomach burns and then turns nauseous.
  •  I can’t form sentences or think of words very well. I’ve had 5 people ask me so far if I’m pregnant.
  • I’m clumsy. Very. I’m dropping things all the time!
  • Oh, and I have BAAAD heartburn. BAD. I never had this with Jackson. But I had this starting week 3. Painful enough that I wake up in the middle of the night. OUCH! 

There you have it. Oh, we close tomorrow on the house. So yeah, a LOT is going on at once. But that is my life. It’s who I am. I’m getting really good at saying my motto: “Let Go. Let God”. Everything is in God’s hands now. It is. Some things I can control, but a lot of things I can’t. Life is a lot simpler when I just give everything to God. 

Monday, February 24, 2014

Weekly Meal Plan for Busy Family


As a busy mom, I have to meal plan to keep my family HEALTHY and to keep my head on straight. The two most important things, right?

I kept meaning to keep track of recipes to make life easier, but I wasn't sure how to get started. I finally figured it out this weekend once we made the decision to move. I was forced to purge and clean. I knew I needed to clean my giant recipe box, (exploding) with torn out magazine recipes.

Jackson (our toddler) and I spent over 2 hours going through every recipe and tossing the ones I knew I would never make and keeping the ones I knew I could make (under 20 minute) and then ones I knew I had made and we loved. Easy. Jackson dove through the papers and kicked them and slid on them over and over again, but at least I was able to go through them. Whatever works!

Now I have one single binder full of GO-TO recipes (mostly healthy and quick). The plan is to scan these in and make my own recipe book, but baby steps first. I'm just happy I'm semi-organized now. Why? It took me all but 5 minutes to figure out what I'm making for the week and write out a shopping list. BOOM.

Now, bear with me. This might not be HEALTHY HEALTHY, but as long as we're following the 80/20 rule in our house, mama is happy. (Eat really good 80 percent of the time.) AND the recipes MUST be easy. Even the unhealthiest recipe can be made healthy in some shape or form. This must be working because I have been able to get to pre-baby weight and then some, and continue to keep it off.

Anyway, ENJOY!

Lucky us! In-laws called us over for a SMOKED turkey dinner to celebrate my father-in-law's bday. No cooking for me!

Costco has these Organic spinach raviolis. Will be pouring spaghetti sauce over these, serve with fresh bread and salad.

Quinoa, Black bean and avocado salad (I add chicken and throw on top of a bunch of greens)

Beef Taco Skillet (Is this the most healthiest? No. Can I add a ton of veggies to make up for it? YES!)
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Grilled Flank Steak and Watercress Salad with White Beans

Beans and Greens Pasta (I will add Italian sausage to this)

Pizza (we always have pizza once a week. The secret is to either make our own or to order red sauce and TONS of VEGGIES. TONS)
My favorite night of the week. Pizza and beer:) :) :) 

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

I Am Pregnant! - Round II - Week 5

Week 5 (February 19, 2014)

All at Once

OK. Wow. Everything happens at once, right? So we are now home owners and will be moving in May. WooHoo! AND I’m for sure pregnant. WHOA MAMA! Is this not crazy!?!

Let’s just face two HUGE changes at once, right? That just seems to be how I roll these days.

So now I’m worrying about baby since I have been so stressed out. Hope I’m not harming him or her with all this constant anxiety. I pray everything is OK. Jackson and I pray every night for a HEALTHY HAPPY baby.

And speaking of healthy, I NEED TO GET TO THE GYM. I’m going on TWO weeks of no gym. Another reason I’m so stressed out. I need my endorphins!

We don’t go in for our first baby appointment until March 11. I bet that day comes QUICK though…
Oh, crazy life how I love you.

I took one final pregnancy test on the morning of day 29. Those lines turned FAST. And were VERY bold this time.  Still, this hasn’t totally set in and I know it’s because there is SO much going on. Sometimes I forget I am. Sometimes I worry things aren’t right because I know so many who miscarry. That makes my heart hurt.

Here are some stats and symptoms:
Starting Weight: 145 pounds
Height: 5’10”

I’ve been waking up at 4:12 every single morning totally alert. I don’t know what it is. Then I think. And think. And think. So by 3:30 in the afternoon, I’m TIRED. Not exhausted yet, but I know that’s coming. This is why I’m purging our house NOW while I can. I’m a crazy woman. A tornado.

I am HUNGRY a lot. Part of me thinks that I’m hungry so I can fatten up. Once I became a mom, I realized sitting down to eat was a thing of the past. I shovel food in or I share it with Jackson. I’m eating less and I’m moving around more. I’m two pounds from my wedding weight without trying one bit. A diet everyone should try.  

Cramping. I’ve been feeling cramping here and there. On Saturday it was pretty annoying but I thought maybe things were shifting down there and my body was getting ready.

I got my first killer headache this morning. Now, this could very well because I felt TOTAL RELIEF once the papers came back that the house was ours. AHHHH. And I was in TOTAL RELAX mode.

I’ve noticed the more water I drink, the better I am. So I am chugging.

Looking back on Jackson’s blog, week 6 is when things started getting TOUGH for me. Not every morning, but there were definitely some tough mornings in there. Will next week be it for me?

I feel like I’m in a race right now. A race to get projects done around the house while I feel well. A race to get tons of stuff at work done so when I am feeling gross, I can give myself time to step away from my desk and breathe. A race to write up lists of what needs to be done closer to moving day because by then my brain MIGHT be fried. 

Or maybe I’ll get REALLY LUCKY this time and have no symptoms??

Visiting Papa After Open-Heart Surgery

Great Trip Back Home

Karl and I decided to make a quick trip to Illinois to visit my dad. We waited a few weeks after his open- heart surgery so we wouldn't overwhelm him. He was in the hospital for 5 days. The craziest part was I talked to him on the phone 24 hours after his surgery!!!

I wasn't sure what to expect, but when I saw him, he looked like the guy I remember but skinnier and maybe a little jaundice. But he was also standing under a weird kitchen light and tearing apart chicken when we walked in. Only him!

Jackson nursing Papa back to health with his Prayer Shawl

For those of you wondering, my dad is on his second pacemaker. He passed out on our driveway during a HOT August summer day on my older brother's 21st bday (years ago) and this is when they found out his heart was in A-Fib and beats VERY slowly. Since then he's already gone through TWO pacemakers and was STILL VERY out of breath, even if it was walking up three steps. He's not skinny by any means but he's not fat either. So it was weird.

And he was ALWAYS TIRED. Napping shortly after getting up and then once again and again.

Welllll, doctors found a hole LARGER than a quarter in his heart AND discovered that his mitral valve was leaking. Hole is now closed, pig valve in place AND his heart is in rhythm. He claims that he noticed a difference in how he felt the second he came to. Every HOUR after surgery he felt better. The first thing I noticed was he wasn't breathing heavy when he talked. Usually he was gasping for air after every few words.

Isn't it crazy how someone can survive day to day with a large hole in their heart and a leaky valve??? The human body is SOOO amazing.

We wanted to get to their house earlier but Karl and I were running around and made ONE more walk-through on the beautiful house we've been eyeing up (the owners were probably so annoyed with us!). WE ended up getting the house last night!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! WE ARE HOME OWNERS!! YESSSSSSSSSS!!!
Papa made sure Sparkles the horse was all ready for Jackson. Heeee-Haww! (I used to ride this horse!!)

Having fun at Papa's

Someone found the winter clothing stash

Anyway, instead of leaving at night like we usually do and making the 5 hour trip while Jackson is sleeping, we left on Friday during the day. Uffdah. It was pretty stressful but we stopped a couple times and eventually MADE IT.

Jackson was so excited to see Papa and Grandma. He loves them so much. We planned on staying until Monday but a snow storm was brewing so we left Sunday night and that went really smooth, other than Jackson getting a terrible cold. Then Karl getting a fever the next day.
Loving up Papa and Gma

Being silly!

Anyway, feeling really blessed these days with GREAT FAMILY. Sure do love my parents and all they do for us and how much they LOVE US. Such a GREAT feeling. Truly the BEST gift you can give your children is LOVE, LOVE, LOVE.

It's the best feeling in the world to know I AM LOVED, Karl is LOVED and Jackson is VERY LOVED.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

House Hunting Part II - OFFER MADE

We made an we wait... 

Oh man. It’s so hard to focus! My head is spinning. I remind myself often to be MINDFUL. To focus on my breathing. I breathe in God and good and then breathe out anxiety and worries – things I have NO control over. Wasted SPACE in my brain.

I've been waking up at 4:12 EVERY MORNING for the past two weeks. 

Change is SO hard. SO HARD. And the longer I wait to make a CHANGE the harder it IS to make a change. Do you notice that about yourself? You WANT change and you do whatever you can to get there. But then it’s staring at you in the face and the EASY WAY is to RUN and take the easy way out. The comfortable option. But then NOTHING EVER HAPPENS.

How do we grow?

With all that said, I think we found our house. OK, I know we did. The minute we walked in I felt WARM. Same with Karl. The house felt VERY homey and inviting. It was the first house we looked at the second time around. We had four more to check out after this house. My heart was set on BRAND NEW, but this house had clearly been taken care of and you could FEEL the love and joy through the walls. I could almost hear the laughter. It is a FAMILY house. A family of five live here. You know when you just get a “good” vibe. That’s what I had. Even about the owners. Weird. Like I feel as if they are GOOD PEOPLE.

We LOVED the backyard and the deck. SCORE! Not HUGE by any means but it backs up to a little bit of woods. NO houses right in back staring into our windows at night. Granted there is a big hill and the yard even starts to elevate some. There are houses on top of the huge hill in the back (covered in trees), but we know once summer comes, we won’t be seeing them AT ALL. The view is VERY beautiful, even in the winter. There is also an ADORABLE playhouse and a swing set out back too. I could already picture spring, summers and fall with Jackson out back and that GARDEN I’ve been DREAMING of. A drink in hand… :)
Not really our house. But it's fun to dream:) 
Isn't she a beaut? Just kidding...again!

The other part I loved was the laundry room (YES, an ENTIRE ROOM for me FINALLY) has a SLOP sink AND a door leading out to the backyard. Meaning, I could HANG UP CLOTHES OUTSIDE. I also like that the yard is fenced in too. BONUS.  No little boy running away from mommy! And maybe we can get a pet. I mean, once Jackson can take care of him or her:)

Another cool part? A wrap-around porch out front. That has always been something I LOVE as an avid reader. Granted, I haven’t read in a couple years, but someday I will again and I will be grateful for that cozy porch! It is a bonus. Same with the 3-car garage with storage shelves built in. AND a professionally completed basement with a fireplace, built-in surround sound through the walls, cute bar and a 5th bedroom and full bathroom. And SO MUCH STORAGE (well, it seems to us coming from NONE)!  It’s beautiful.

My mom asked me to envision what I would be doing most in this house. COOKING, CLEANING and PLAYING and going on ADVENTURES.  The kitchen isn’t as fancy as most kitchens are these days, but it’s bigger than a lot of others we saw. My worry is if it's big enough to house all our kitchen stuff. And we can’t sit at the island (which was a bummer for me) and the appliances need to be updated, but I really do love this house.

There are a couple other things…like the master bedroom is quite a bit smaller than the one we have now. The master closet is HALF the size of what we have now and there is only one sink in the master bath and no closets…opposite of what we have now. BUT, I am in our bedroom, closet and bathroom THE LEAST. I have been pinning ideas on Pinterest to maximize the space we have been given the best I can. 

Pro: Less to clean, right?  

I love that there is an office when you walk through the front door that could EASILY be turned into a PLAY ROOM and we can use a bedroom upstairs for a guest room OR a workout room OR a play area OR a computer room. Whatever we want. I love when you walk in from the garage there is a big coat closet and the laundry room is right there too. A nice mud area!

I’m nervous because it’s in a different city than where we live now. And it's kind of further away from things. I’m so used to knowing where things are around me. I also know that I spend an hour and 20 minutes every Monday through Thursday night picking Jackson up and bringing us home. So much time commuting!!!!

I worry about the neighborhood. I worry that there isn’t a sidewalk on our side of the street, but that could also be a bonus too. And I worry cars might travel too fast in front of the house. BUT, there is a forest preserve RIGHT down the street with lakes and trees and animals and a PARK.

I think we have our answer… The perfect starter house for us. 

HERE WE GO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Wish us luck!

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Month in Review - 21.5 Months

Almost two years old! Where is the time going?

After that first birthday, time FLIES. Not even kidding. This was the fastest year YET. I realized I have NO updates for Jackson's 21st month... So here we go!

Weight: A whopping 26 lbs!

Favorites: Jumping everywhere, bunnies, buses, trucks, loves reading books, LOVES his aunts and uncles and both Kacey dogs and grandparents (loves looking at their photos and pointing them out everyday), loves the water, loves racing cars on the kitchen floor, black olives, getting my parent's slippers out when they are visiting (and mine when we get home every day), going to church, driving by any church, his "Jesus" book, helping with laundry and cooking and vacuuming, kissing us if we stub our toe or hurt something, flushing the potty, stroking his pinkie-finger when he's sucking on his two fingers, naps (he will tell us when it's time..."NAP! NAP!"), screaming on top of his lungs if he is told "no" or when he has to do something he doesn't want to...

Dislikes: Getting snow on his gloves, this motorcycle race car thing my aunt gave him (Must be too loud). When mommy is trying to cook and isn't giving Jackson all her attention. The cold weather. Learning patience. When mommy gets on the phone. When mommy tries to do anything but play with him... Oh boy.

Potty Training: He was doing great for a couple weeks with pooping in the toilet. Then he stopped. But started again. It's hit or miss. We're just going with it. No pressure!

It's been a fun month even in the arctic blast!! Below are photos in no particular order from the months of January and February 2014!

I was able to get a total workout here! We went for a long sled ride! Trying to get out as much as possible but it's SO hard when it's SO COLD!!!

Obsession with bunnies. Peek a boo!

Obsession with his lawn mower. He is ready for GREEN! ME TOO!

Hanging out with his Uncle Mike who is at the Sochi Olympics right now! Lucky duck!

One day it hit CLOSE to 40 degrees! YES! We were OUTSIDE for that!!!

Enjoyed homemade banana ice cream with Nutella. Naughty but YUM!

Papa MIGHT have left his Cheetos behind... 

Every 1st and 3rd Saturday I have put together Toddler TOT SPOT at my church! SO MUCH FUN! Lots of space to run around in and toys to play with. Jackson loves. 

Fixing mom something real tasty in his kitchen!

Yeah, you read that right. -19. SO SO SO COLD.

Such a HAM

Loves putting on mommy's shoes

We've gone swimming a couple times. Jackson LOVES, but he MIGHT love the shower more...  Yes, that's my bikini in the drain. Whatever. You do whatever works. 

Major obsession with Wheels on the Bus. MAJOR. 

Hit up the park on that 40 degree day!

I try to clean and Jackson loves playing with all the stuff I find and make use of it. Look at those baby browns!
Loves reading books!

My sweet, sweet boy! Love this little FLIRT.

My mom bought Jackson a book that recorded her voice. He has to read this book at least twice a night. He gives the "Grandma Bunny" a kiss on the last page. SO SWEET. 
On top of the world! cleaning again and Jackson makes use of it all!

Went to the Wild Rumpus book store. Lots of animals hanging out. Jackson was in heaven. He kissed ALL the kitties. 

Bonding with dad. 

Looked so old to me here!!!

Having fun on our special Fridays!

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Jumping on dad!!!

More reading!

Aunt Kelly stopped by at day care! Jackson LOVED. Same with the other kids!

Should we be worried? Jackson sucks his two fingers and strokes his pinkie. Now he sticks objects on his pinkie... 

Picking out books at the Wild Rumpus!
Sometimes they end up on the wrong feet but he's getting really good at putting his shoes on! Boy, will he get FRUSTRATED when he can't get them on right though!
We hit up a local gymnastics place for open gym some Fridays. SO MUCH FUN!!!!!

Have a great month!!!