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Patriot Challenge Race!

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

One of the "things" that really connected Aaron and I when we first met was our love for exercise, outdoor activities and doing fun races.  While we were dating and first married, we ran a lot of 5Ks, a couple 10Ks and a half marathon together!  Then going back to school, babies, work, moving, more babies and life in general happened and while we have always continued to exercise together, we put a "hold" on participating in races.  

Back in January, I saw a Groupon for a discounted admission to the Patriot Challenge Race and knew that I had to sign Aaron and I up for it!! I gave him the "coupon" for his birthday and he was SO excited!!

This past Sunday was race day!  While I feel like I am in pretty decent shape, I was SO SO nervous about the various obstacles we were going to have do.  Aaron is ALL about that kind of stuff...but I am not nearly as inclined when it comes to doing things that fall into the "hard core" category- HA!

See- I told you he was hard core!!
The race ended up being a lot of fun and the only thing I couldn't fully do was a set of monkey bars :)  My girls are quite appalled Mommy doesn't know how to do the monkey bars- but ever since I fell off them in first grade and knocked the wind out of me...well- I have been scarred for life! HA!
We climbed a lot of mud piles, waded through several muddy, water pits (like up to our chest deep!), we flipped over huge tires and ran up bleachers with super heavy kettle balls.  We did each obstacle together, even though I know at times my super competitive husband wanted to race ahead :)  It was the BEST way to spend a couple of hours together!
Because we have never lived by family and due to the nature of Aaron's schedule, we don't get the opportunity to do things as a couple very often.  Now please- don't think I am having a pity party for us- it is just the way it is for us!  But because of our few and far between dates, we have a HUGE appreciation for the time we do get to spend together.  
We are so blessed to have met some friends where we live now, that are crazy generous and have watched our children several times for us in the short time we have known them.  And they are not just watching our kids as a "favor," they truly LOVE hanging out with them- which makes me even more grateful!!

So...that was kind of a tangent...but what I was trying to say is that- Aaron and I had a blast running the race together; but more than that, we loved being out in the sunshine, side by side, being reminded of how blessed we are to have another.  
Our marriage is a gift and we are so thankful for it!

Do you enjoy doing races/exercising/outdoor activities with your husband??
If you have older kids, do you do them as a family?  Aaron and I can't wait until our kids are older and we can start doing races and challenges all together!

Hope you have an awesome day!!

Favorite Things: Summer Shoe Edition!

Monday, June 29, 2015

Hi! Happy Monday!! How was your weekend??
We had a great weekend!  We went to a local festival and my husband and I did ran a really fun 5K race yesterday! I am going to write more about that tomorrow!:)

Now onto today's topic...brought to you by Erika and Andrea:

My Favorite Summer Shoe!

So- I am not a huge shoe person.  I own one pair of wedges I wear to church in the summer.  I own one pair of black "dressy" sandals (that I got from Walmart for $9!!) and one of pair of neutral dressier sandals (from Forever 21- I think they were $7?!?)  

BUT- when it comes to flip flops...well that is a whole different story- HA! 
My ABSOLUTE favorite shoes- whether it be summer, fall, winter or spring- 

My favorite pair of Reefs to wear on a regular basis are this pair.  They are called the "Ginger."  I love these Reefs so much because they have a thin strap, but still have a super cushy footbed.  I have had my black pair of "Gingers" for at least 4 years and they still look and feel amazing!
I have this pair of Reefs and they are called the "Stargazer," except mine have silver glitter on top.  They are calling this color "multi" on the Reef website and I think it is SO fun!  These are what I consider to be my "fancy" pair of flip flops and have been wore to church on many occasions with a sundress :)


I love this pair of Reefs SO much! They are called the "Sandy" and are just super classic.  When I think of Reefs, this style comes to mind.  I have worn my black "Sandy's" to the point where my foot imprint is completely embedded in them.  I just love them.  You can't go wrong with these flip flops and they come in a lot of fun colors!
I have one pair of flip flops I wear ALL THE TIME that aren't Reefs.  They are Sanuks and they are from their Yoga Mat line.  The footbed of these flip flops is made out of the same material yoga mats are made of and OMG. they are SO darn comfortable!! I looked on the website and couldn't find the exact pair I own- I have had mine for at least 4 years- but the ones pictured are extremely similar.  If you have never tried on these flip flops before- do yourself a favor and a order a pair now!!
Here is my beloved collection of Reefs....
I seriously think I might have a problem:)- HA!  
(And I am slightly embarrassed to say I left out a few pairs!)
Reefs are definitely not a cheap, $5 pair of flip flops.  But without sounding super dramatic, they are really worth the investment!!  They are made extremely well, ridiculously comfortable and last a really long time.  All of my Reefs pictured are at least 4 years old, with some being up to 10 years old!  

(**If you have tried Reefs and don't love them as much as I do, other brands that you might want to check out are: Sanuk, Rainbow and Teva has a great line of flip flops!)

Now you tell me?? What is your favorite pair of summer shoes? Are you as flip flop obsessed as I am??!

Hope you have a wonderful Monday!!






Friday Favorites!!

Friday, June 26, 2015

Hey!! It is FRIDAY!  YAY! 
How was your week? Ours was great!! We had awesome weather the first half of the week and spent every day at the pool. Then it started thunder storming yesterday and the same is predicted for today.  BOO! Thank goodness for the library and swimming lessons in the indoor pool! :)  We have some fun plans for the weekend...crossing my fingers the weather holds up and delivers some sunshine!!

Here's some good ol' random FAVORITES from this past week! :)

ONE
My girls are OBSESSED with coloring and crafting.  Hands down- their favorite thing to do is color. They are always making pictures and hanging them up all over the house...usually on their bedroom doors for "decoration."  Well, the other day, I walked up to my room to put away some laundry and saw these two pictures taped to my bedroom door....HOW STINKIN' CUTE ARE THEY?!? Can we please talk about the disco ball my oldest daughter drew??  Also- I LOVE how 4 year olds draw body parts...
I have really skinny legs and arms- HA!
It was definitely a FAVORITE moment of mine to walk up and be greeted by these sweet pictures!!
(Charlotte drew the picture on the left and Cora Maye drew the picture on the right:)
TWO
We had such a fun day celebrating Aaron on Father's Day!! We had our 2 oldest daughters take a picture of us and without either one of us knowing- we both made these gorgeous, runway like faces for the camera- HA!  Aaron is always my FAVORITE...we have been talking about some big decisions lately and I am so thankful I get to go through life with him by my side!!
THREE
My brother-in-law is currently deployed overseas and he sent an email to us (and Aaron's parents and sister) earlier this past week just letting everyone know how he is doing, what he has been up to and then he said that at the end of the email he attached some pictures for us to see.  I scrolled down, expecting to see a picture of him standing on a carrier or by his jet (he is a pilot)- but instead- there were two pictures of an ULTRASOUND!!! My sister-in-law is PREGNANT!! We are so excited for them!! I was reading this email at 6 am and I immediately texted my sister-in-law to call me ASAP-HA!  The best thing is- she called me!  Gotta love being an early riser! :)  This is their second child and we could not be more happy to be welcoming a new precious baby into the family!! 
FOUR
We had a playdate earlier this week at one of the local parks/splash pads right by our house...and my girls had SO MUCH FUN!  I just loved looking at the three of them running around, splashing in the water, having an absolute blast. Just pure JOY! I definitely had a "moment" watching them play and it was a FAVORITE part of my week!!:)
(Isn't it such a FUN park?? We are so lucky to live in such an awesome town!)
FIVE
Our first month of summer is almost over...and it has been SO GOOD!
Summer has and always will be my most FAVORITE season!! 

Hope you have a wonderful weekend ahead of you!! 

I am linking up with Andrea and Erika for their Friday Favorites Link Up!
I am also linking up with April for Five on Friday!
Joining Karli for her, Oh Hey Friday Link Up! too!



Feeding picky eaters.....

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Hi!  Happy Thursday! 
How is your week going? We have had some great weather so far...which means we have been living at the pool- LOVE it!

Today I thought I would share some thoughts on having picky eaters and some strategies that have worked for us in getting our picky eaters to eat more :)
Of course, take everything I say with a grain of salt...getting kids to eat can be SUCH a battle; every child is different and what has worked for us might not work for you!  These are just some ideas :)

So...our oldest daughter is 6 1/2 and she has, by far, been our pickiest eater.  Aaron and I take a lot of the blame for this as she was our first child and we kind of let her call the shots when it came to what she wanted to eat at a young age.  When she was starting to eat table food, if we gave her something, like pasta, and she didn't like it or eat it- we immediately just gave her what we knew she liked: peanut butter toast.  That sweet girl lived off of applesauce, yogurt and peanut butter toast for a good portion of her 1st and 2nd years of life! HA!  Then we had our 2nd daughter and got A LOT smarter when it came time to feed her table food.  Around 7-8 months, we just started putting bite size pieces of all kinds of food on her plate.  Cereal bars, a variety of fruit, waffles, pizza, meat- you name it!  We didn't stress out if she didn't care for what we gave her...but we kept on introducing her to the foods we were eating.  Now, she is almost 5 and is a CRAZY good little eater.  We did the same with Celine, our youngest daughter, and she is right in the middle of Charlotte and Cora- she is not as picky as Charlotte- but not nearly as adventurous with trying new foods like Cora.  Since about 6 months old, we have been giving James all sorts of table food to try and he has pretty much loved it all- he is very much like his daddy and LOVES to eat!

I keep breakfast and lunch pretty simple around here and while the kids eat a variety of things for those meals...they are all pretty much food I know they LIKE.  Breakfast is either cereal, a banana/pumpkin muffin with yogurt and fruit, a whole grain waffle with applesauce, or pancakes and a fruit.  Lunch is a sandwich (peanut butter or cheese), pretzels or goldfish and some time of fruit.  We pretty much never have any "food battles" at those meals.
Now dinner time is a whole different story- HA!  When it was just the girls and they were younger, I would totally be a short order cook and make them a separate meal if they didn't want to eat the dinner I had made.  Well...I would say over the past two years and consistently over this past year, since we had James, Aaron and I have gotten hard core and DO NOT mess around at dinner time.  

Our kids are expected to eat what I put in front of them.
They are not only expected to eat it, they are not allowed to complain and need to eat their meal with a grateful attitude.
If they DON'T want to eat it, the alternative is they may immediately go get showered and get in their bed for the evening (versus playing, watching a show and then going to bed) AND their un-eaten meal will be wrapped up and served to them at breakfast time.  We used to be very concerned about "What if they don't eat dinner...they're going to be hungry!!"  Well...that's absolutely right- they might be hungry- and they can wake up and eat a nice, hearty breakfast in the morning- which will be their dinner from the night before! :)  

See??? I told you we have gotten hard core! HA!

Here is why I feel comfortable with our dinner time expectations:
  • I very mindfully plan our dinners with our girls' taste buds in mind :)  I do not cook elaborate, non-kid friendly meals like pumpkin and sage risotto with sea scallops (although that sounds absolutely delicious to me! HA!)
  • If we are having the kids try something new, I only give them a small portion of that food- I am not expecting them to eat a heaping amount of food they have never tried before.
  • I feed my kids YUMMY meals.  
  • I always make sure there is at least one item on their plates that I know they really enjoy.
  • I know for a fact, that if my kids are truly hungry- they WILL eat.
  • There are MILLIONS of children around the world starving and unsure of their next meal; my children are blessed beyond measure to have food put in front of them at every meal and there is NO reason they shouldn't eat it happily.

All of the reasons I have listed above, we openly discuss with our girls.  They know where we stand with our meal time expectations and honestly, since we have gotten "hard core" dinner time has gotten SO MUCH easier!! 

Here are few others things that have helped us have more success in general with our kids being better eaters :
-I really monitor snacks and drinks during the day.  If my kids are snacking and filling up on milk and water all day- well of course they aren't going to be hungry at dinner!
-Smoothies are HUGE at our house- I put spinach, blueberries, peaches, strawberries and greek yogurt in it- SO healthy, the girls and James love them, and it makes me feel good to know that I am getting a good, solid dose of fruits and veggies in my kids!
-Finally- we are not above a little bribery:) You would be surprised how fast food gets eaten when there is the promise of a little vanilla pudding or 10 M&M's!! :)

So...do you think we are mean parents?? HA!
Do you have food struggles at your house?  Have you come up with some effective ways of getting your kids to be better eaters??

Here's to an awesome day and no complaining at dinner time!! :)

Linking up with Annie and Natalie today!

What's Up Wednesday!?!

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Hi!! Hay Wednesday! I am excited to be joining Shay, Mel and Sheaffer for their super fun 'What' Has Up Wednesday' link-up party!!



What we're eating this week: We are grilling out a lot this week and keeping it super simple!  I post my weekly menu plan almost every Monday...here is what is on the menu at our house for this week!

What I am reminiscing about: this time last year I was only a couple weeks away from having our 4th baby! Can't believe our precious baby boy is almost ONE YEAR OLD!!

This picture was taken almost exactly a year ago!  We had just moved to the Indianapolis area, Aaron had just started his residency (and his first on-call shift on his first day- talk about sinking or swimming- HA!) and we were about 10 days away from meeting our new baby!!
And here is the last picture we took as a family of 5, on 4th of July last year!
It seriously does not feel like one whole year has gone by since we took this picture!! 

What I am loving: I am a peanut butter addict. I LOVE it. I just recently found out about PB2 Powdered Peanut Butter and I am HOOKED!  

You can use it in the powdered form in smoothies or add water to it to make actual peanut butter!  It is VERY low in calories, fat, and sugar- and seriously tastes SO good!  My favorite way to use it is in my morning smoothie.  I use 4-5 ice cubes, 1/2 frozen banana, 1 heaping tablespoon of PB2 powder, handful of spinach, 1 stevia natural sweetener packet and 1 cup of unsweetened vanilla almond milk.  OMG.  It is SO good!! 

What we have been up to: We have a pretty sweet little summer routine going: kids are up around 6:00 am and snuggle on the couch watching PBS Kids, then we eat breakfast around 7:00 am, get to the gym by 8:00 am, and are home by 9:30 am so James can take a morning nap. Then when he wakes up- we either head out to the pool, splash pad or library.  We are home for lunch and afternoon naps around 12:30-1:00 pm... and then out again for another adventure around 4:00 pm!  We are home by 6:00 pm for dinner and all the kids are in bed, totally passed out by 8:30 pm.  We aren't really doing anything exciting but I can't tell you much I am LOVING these simple, summer days with my precious kiddos!!

What I am dreading: putting away this huge pile of laundry!! UGH! With all the summer fun we have been having...keeping up with all our laundry has fallen to waaayyyy low on the priority list- HA!

What I am working on: I am embarrassed to admit this because the last time I linked up and did a 'What's Up Wednesday' post- I was working on the SAME thing.  I am still, slowly but surely, getting my daughters' yearly picture books done.  I have my daughter Cora's book totally done- just need to order it.  I need to add text to each page in my daughter Charlotte's book and then her book will be ready to order.  I have almost all of the pictures uploaded for my daughter Celine's book- need to get that one started ASAP.  And then I will need to get James' book started since he is turning one in a couple of weeks! Then I am going to take a break for few months before I have to get started on another one- HA!  You would think I would learn my lesson and stay on top of these photo books!!

What I am excited about: An upcoming beach vacation!! My mom is one of 8 girls and every other year all of her sisters and their families and my almost 92 year old grandpa, get together for a week long vacation!  It is an absolute BLAST and we can't wait to spend a week at the beach with all of our wonderful family!!

What I am reading: A couple of months ago my mom gave me a daily devotional called, Focus Your Day, by Kenneth E. Grabner, C.S.C.  I LOVE it!  It is simple and each devotional  is SO applicable to real life.  I am truly enjoying starting my morning off by reading this book every day!!

What I am listening to: I am currently obsessed with "Homegrown" by The Zac Brown Band- LOVE this song!! My newest favorite workout song is "Rather Be" by Clean Bandit featuring Jess Glynne.  It is SUCH A JAM!! :)

What I am wearing: If I am not wearing my swim suit or work out clothes, I am rocking my momiform for the summer!  I talked about a few of my favorite summer clothes last week- you can check it out here
 My momiform consists of a colorful pair of shorts and a simple tank top!
My 6 year old daughter took this picture of me so I could avoid the ultra awkward/embarrassing selfie in front of the mirror in the locker room at the gym- HA!




What I am doing this weekend: We have some fun plans this weekend! On Saturday- we are going to a festival our town has every year.  There is a whole tent dedicated to kids activities!  We went last year and the girls had a blast- we are so excited to go again!  On Sunday, my husband and I are doing a race called the Patriot Challenge Race!  I registered us for the race as one of his birthday gifts (back in January).  I am not sure what to expect...hoping it isn't super hard core...because I am not good at that- HA!  Either way...we are going to have a blast spending the morning together!

What I am looking forward to next month: We have several fun, little trips planned for next month! We are going camping for a couple of days to celebrate James' first birthday and then just a few days after that, we are going to visit one of our best friends at her family's lake house.  Then after that, the kids and I will be going to visit my parents for several days!  The following week is Vacation Bible School- and all 3 of my girls will be attending while I volunteer in the nursery (and James will be tagging along with me).
We have a busy, FUN month ahead of us!! 

What else is new: not much!! :) Just soaking up every minute of summer!! 

Bonus question: What are our plans for 4th of July: We don't have any huge plans for the 4th of July.  Most likely, if the weather is nice, we will go swimming at our pool and we will definitely have a cookout! My girls want to roast marshmallows and make s'mores while we are waiting for it to get dark to watch fireworks.  We are able to see TWO amazing firework shows from our backyard, so that is going to be the best part of our day for sure!

That was fun!!
Hope you are having a great week so far!
Make today awesome- no matter what! :)

Through pregnancy and then postpartum....two products I am STILL using!

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Hi!
Hope you have had a great start to your week!

Soooo...my precious baby James is about to turn one in just a couple of weeks (insert me fighting back tears)!!  I am trying to figure out how his first year went by so fast...but really- I think the same thing when I look at his older sisters!  
Anyway...it made me realize that it has been almost 2 years since I got pregnant with him- which just seems nuts!  What I wanted to share with you today are a couple of products I invested in during my pregnancy with James, that I used every day.  I continued to use them after I had James and now, with him almost being one year old- I am still using them!! I think it can be hard, especially if you are going to be a first time mom, to know what products to invest in and what items you could probably don't need.  Everything claims to be a "MUST HAVE" or you "CAN'T LIVE WITHOUT IT." HA! So dramatic! :) 
Well...I am here to tell you...I really couldn't have lived without these two items over the past 2 years- dramatic or not- its the truth! :)

Behold: The Bumpnest Pregnancy Pillow.  I went through 3 pregnancies without investing in a good body pillow and I swore that I would not do that again when we got pregnant with James.  I get really bad sciatic back pain when I am pregnant and I really needed something that could help me get a good night's rest!  I saw some bloggers reviewing the bumpnest pillow and forwarded my husband the link to the website.  Well...he surprised me and ordered me one for my birthday and I was SO excited.  This pillow is really all it is cracked up to be.  It is soft and cushy, yet totally supports you.  It truly makes you feel like you are sleeping in this perfect little nest! I used it every night during my pregnancy with James, and then actually continued to use after I had James because I loved the support it gave me as I was healing and dealing with other lovely issues that come with the postpartum stage.  A couple months ago I stopped using it because I thought it was a little silly to still be sleeping with a pregnancy pillow....BUT- I do not have the best pillows (and can't seem to find one I like to save my life) so I started using the bumpnest again on top of one of my pillows and it is just what I needed to not wake up with a crick in my neck! HA!  
Now- here are the two cons I would say the bumpnest has: 1) it is expensive.  it is $99.  I KNOW.  But, I can truly tell you- at least for me- it is worth every penny and I have obviously gotten my money's worth out it! HA!  2) it is BIG. my husband calls it the "third person" in our bed.  Hahaha! It definitely takes up a solid amount of space...but it totally helps me have a restful night of sleep- so I don't really care! :) Also- we have a king bed...so we do have a little more room to work with versus if we slept in a full or queen bed.  
If you are newly pregnant or currently pregnant and are needing a body pillow- try this one out.  I LOVE it!!
Okay...the next item that I have REALLY gotten major use out of is the Bravado Body Silk Seamless Nursing Bra.  When I was about half way through my pregnancy with James, I took stock of the nursing bras I had and decided they could use a little CPR.  I started researching for the best nursing bra- and the Bravado bra just kept on popping up!  I decided to give it a shot and I am so glad I did!! I ordered my regular size in this bra (versus the size I am the first couple weeks after I have a baby) and was able to start wearing it about 2 months after I had James.  This bra is AWESOME.  It doesn't have underwire- but you would never know that because it is so supportive!! I love that the shape of the bra totally helps me have a "lifted" look if you will (I need all the help I can get after nursing 4 kids-HA)! It is cut lower than most nursing bras, which I love, because it means I can wear regular shirts and not have my bra showing!  This is the only nursing bra I wore over the past year.  I would go to put on one of my old bras and immediately would take them off- because the difference in support and how I looked in them didn't even compare to the Bravado bra!!  Now- where this bra really saved me was when I was weaning James just a few weeks ago.  I got extremely engorged and was quite uncomfortable for about 2 weeks as my body got used to no longer nursing.  While I was ready to wear one of my underwire bras (since I hadn't for almost a year)- I couldn't because they hurt!  My Bravado bra was SO comfortable, provided the support I needed- but also didn't cause me any discomfort wearing it.  Now that I am back to "normal" I still find myself wearing this bra!! It currently is the only bra that really fits me correctly...lets just say gravity has been hard at work over the past 6 years of me being pregnant and nursing 4 kids and the result is interesting to say the least- HA! I am going to give my body a little more time to shift and change and then I am going to go do some serious bra shopping.  Until then- you better believe I will wearing my Bravado bra!!  If you are interested in trying this bra out- I got mine on Amazon- here is the link!

So there you have it! Two products I didn't really expect to be using almost a year after I had my baby- but I am!!  :)

What about you?  Do you have any items that have gotten you through pregnancy and beyond??

(and obviously, since no one knows I even write this little blog, these opinions are totally MY OWN! No compensation was received for talking about these two products.)

Menu Plan Monday!

Monday, June 22, 2015

Hi!!
Happy Monday!! How was your weekend?? Ours was a lot of fun...we went to a cookout on Saturday afternoon and spent Sunday celebrating the best Daddy ever! I am totally beginning to sound like a broken record...but I sure do LOVE summer time!!

I don't know about you...but my desire for cooking and planning meals decreases significantly during the summer months.  The last place I want to be is in the kitchen cooking AND most of the time I would just rather grab a couple take-n-bake pizzas or make some sandwiches for dinner.  But...that really doesn't go over well with my husband and my kiddos- HA!
So...my compromise is- I will keep planning our dinners- but they are going to be NO FUSS MEALS.
I am going to keep making sure we are having a variety of meals...but none of them are going to take much effort to put together.  
My family is happy...and momma is happy- WIN-WIN!

Here is our super, simple summer menu plan for this week:

Menu Plan

Monday: Shredded Barbecue Pork Tenderloin Sandwiches, green beans and Harvest cheddar Sun Chips

Tuesday: Taco Tuesday!!  

Wednesday: Grilled "Italian" chicken, white cheddar pasta and steamed broccoli

Thursday: Hot dogs on the grill, galaxy bites and mandarin oranges

Friday: Personal Pizzas on the Grill

Saturday: Shredded barbecue pork quesadillas with black refried beans

Sunday: Grilled chicken, zucchini, and mushrooms + mashed potatoes

For tonight's (Monday) dinner, I am going to put a pork tenderloin I picked up from Aldi over the weekend in the crock pot with about a cup of water and let it cook on low all day until it is all cooked.  I don't need to add any other seasonings because the pork tenderloin came packaged in a yummy barbecue marinade.  Once the pork is cooked, I am going to shred it up and serve it on hamburger buns with some melted muenster cheese and a few pickle slices.  Some steamed green beans and a handful of Sun Chips should make this a pretty tasty summer time meal! :) (The leftover pork we have from this meal I am going to put in the freezer for our dinner on Saturday!)

Tuesday night is Taco Tuesday Night!! I am going to brown some lean ground turkey with a can of rotel (diced tomatoes and green chiles) for our taco "filling."  I love making "baked" tacos by filling crunchy taco shells with some ground turkey and shredded sharp cheddar cheese- then popping them under the broiler until everything is hot and the cheese is melted!  We top our tacos with shredded lettuce, sour cream and salsa. YUM! For my girls, I break crunchy taco shells in half, top with some meat and cheese and melt them under the broiler.  We call them "taco chips" and they love them!  

For Wednesday night's dinner, I am going to have Aaron grill some chicken breast that I have marinated in zesty Italian salad dressing.  Once a week, I buy a couple pounds of fresh chicken breast from the meat counter at our local Kroger.  I trim any fat off of them, put a couple chicken breast each in a freezer storage bag and then pour some zesty Italian salad dressing over them.  Then I put the chicken in the freezer.  All my prep work is done!  All I have to do is pull out a bag of chicken about an hour before we are ready to grill and it is ready to go!  Freezing the chicken in the Italian dressing just really adds an extra dose of flavor...this is our "go-to" method for marinading our chicken!!

Since summer started, Thursday night at our house has become "hot dog" night.  We buy ours in bulk at Sam's Club (we are VERY partial to the Hebrew National Brand)- so we always have them on hand.  My kids LOVE them (so does my husband!)- so at least for the summer months, grilled hot dogs is going to have a pretty regular spot on our menu plan!  Along with our hot dogs, the girls each get a couple galaxy bites, which are basically a cross between a french fry and a tater tot- they come in shapes like moons, stars and suns- they are so cute!  Instead of a veggie tonight- I am going to serve the kiddos some mandarin oranges.  You should see my baby take down some mandarin oranges- HA! I just stare at him in awe of how fast he can shove 10 orange pieces in his mouth!! Needless to say- he enjoys them :)

On Friday night, we are having a couple of the new first year residents from my husband's program come over for pizza.  To make it a little more fun- we are going to have everyone make their own personal pizza.  I am going to make some homemade pizza dough and have that all ready to go.  We will have just a few simple toppings: mozzarella cheese, pepperoni and mushrooms.  Grilling the pizza gives it such a yummy flavor, we have found that we don't need a bunch of crazy toppings.  I am going to have some fresh veggies and hummus out while we are hanging out making pizzas- my favorite kind of hummus is the roasted red pepper hummus from Aldi- SO YUMMY!!  For dessert, I am going to make one of Shay's bundt cakes- haven't decided on the flavor yet- but you CAN'T go wrong with any of them!!

For Saturday night's dinner, we are going to take the leftover pork we made on Monday and have barbecue pork quesadillas!!  During the summer, we actually make our quesadillas on the grill!  We just put down a tortilla right on the grill, on low-medium heat, add some pork and then a mixture of mozzarella cheese (I will have some leftover from pizza night) and sharp cheddar cheese, top with another tortilla and flip it after a couple of minutes.  The tortilla gets grill marks and the quesadilla has a slight smoky flavor- seriously SO good.  And the HUGE bonus is- I am not in my kitchen standing over a hot stove!! Yay for cooking outside!  Alongside our quesadillas, we will have some black refried beans (I pulled some out of the freezer)- I shared the recipe a couple weeks ago- you can check it out here!

Sunday's dinner is EASY. Grilled chicken and veggies + mashed potatoes.  I am going to pull out some of our marinaded chicken from the freezer and put some zucchini and baby portabella mushrooms on some skewers- and put it all on the grill.  I am majorly cheating and going to heat up some prepared mashed potatoes (my husband and girls really like Bob Evans Original Mashed Potatoes- I can get them at our local Aldi).  I am all about making a big batch of homemade mashed potatoes when it is winter time...but summer time calls for some extra help in the kitchen- at least at my house! HA!

That is what's for dinner at our house.  Hopefully if you are feeling the same way I am- pretty unmotivated to cook- and would just really prefer to serve a cereal smorgasbord every night-HA!- you can get a little inspiration from some of the simple meal ideas I am making this week.
I would love for you to share some of your easy recipes/meal ideas that you default to in the summer! I need all the help I can get-HA!

Hope you have a wonderful day!!
I am linking up with Laura today!




Friday Favorites!!

Friday, June 19, 2015

It Friday! YAY!
Except it is raaaaiinnnnniinnnnggg here all day! BOO! 
Oh well!  I am going to have to get creative so my little precious people don't start climbing the walls! HA!  We have the gym and swimming lessons this morning and I have some new play-doh stashed away for after naps...we just might survive another rainy day cooped up in the house! HA!

A couple months I did a Friday Favorites post about some of my favorite items that help me stay on track with a healthy lifestyle....you can find it here!  Since exercising is a part of my daily life, 6 out of the 7 days a week (I take Sunday off), I thought I would share my FAVORITE go-to workout gear.  Nothing fancy, but I couldn't exercise without these items!

Here we go!

ONE
Other than when I am swimming laps, I HAVE to be listening to music when I am working out.  The faster, more upbeat the song- the better.  My husband can listen to some pretty chill music when he is working out- NOT me.  I like "clubby" songs with a really fast tempo to them- it keeps me moving-HA!
So these are the earphones I use when I workout. Mine are SUPER old and I love them. Like they don't have the foam stuff on the ears anymore! HA!  They still work great though- so I am not replacing them until they are DEAD. I can NOT use any earphone that goes inside my ear.  First of all- I sweat so much that they don't stay put and they hurt my ears!!  While these are not the coolest looking earphones ever, they don't hurt and they don't move when I am running!  If you are like me- and can't wear ear buds- try these out!! 

I use an iPod shuffle to listen to my music.   I love this little thing.  It has plenty of memory space to fill up enough songs for about an hour long workout, it clips right onto my sports bra and I don't even know I am wearing it!! I couldn't workout without this little square! HA!   It has a pretty long battery life...I use mine every day for about an hour and don't have to charge it but every 3 weeks or so!
You can get a shuffle here, on Amazon for $52! 

TWO
At least 3 days a week I am running 3-4 miles.  These are the running shoes I am wearing.  I REALLY love Asics.  I know everyone has their favorite brand, but I have worn Brooks, Saucony, and Adidas, and Asics are by far my favorite brand of running shoes! I know a lot of people really like Nike Frees- I have actually never owned a pair of Nike running shoes!
Anyway- these are the Gel Kayano-19 running shoes...I got mine almost 2 years ago, so they now have Gel Kayano 20 and 21.  Basically- just newer "editions" and the prices are higher.  These shoes are very supportive, firm but definitely have some cushiness to them (don't you love my technical description??) and super important- I love the bright colors! HA! They make me happy when I put them on :)  If you are looking for a new pair of running shoes, I would recommend going to a store like Fleet Feet, where you can try on a bunch of shoes and get some guidance on what type of shoe you need (based on how you walk/run).  THEN- you can either buy your shoes in the store or can check the internet to see if you can find a lower price than the store offers.  Running shoes can be crazy expensive...I HAVE to get mine on sale! 
THREE
I am not a big fan of working out in shorts...can you say inner thigh rub?! Ha! During the summer, I am all about capris.  I have two pairs I wear religiously- both from Walmart.
You can find the black pair on the left right here and the pair on the right here!  They are not carrying the black tie dye print I have anymore...but they do have several other fun colors.
Both of these capri pants are my FAVORITE for a couple of reasons. 1) They do NOT move when I am working out and I don't have to yank them up while I am running!  2) They are super flattering! Workout clothes by nature are more fitted and any time I can find a pair of capri pants that are very fitted AND help keep the curves in check- well I am sold! HA!  3) You just CANNOT beat the price of either of these capri pants! And if you don't care for these- Walmart has a bunch of other activewear options you can check out!


FOUR
I swim twice a week- it is one of my FAVORITE ways to exercise!!
I have one "workout" swimsuit- I have had mine for 10 years now and it just now starting to show some wear!This is the one I have- it is reversible!  The only difference is my suit is black on one side and purple on the other.  If you are looking to invest in a one piece swimsuit for swimming laps or any type of exercise in the water, I highly recommend the TYR brand- also Speedo is a great brand!!

FIVE
So...this picture isn't related to my workout gear favorites...but with Father's Day 2 days away, how could I not mention the best daddy ever in my Friday Favorites?!?
I truly have been SO blessed to have been raised by an amazing father and now get to see my children be guided, lead and nurtured by the most incredible father!  Aaron is super FUN, he loves teaching our kids about things, he has a really great ability to be firm, but gentle at the same time with our girls when they need to be disciplined and he LOVES his children more than himself.  
You would know that about him if spoke to him for more than a couple minutes :)  
I am really, really grateful he is my partner in this crazy, awesome journey of parenthood!!

So there you have it!  Some of my favorite workout gear (and my favorite dad:)!  

I am SO thankful for our YMCA.
I am really grateful the hospital my husband works for provides a discount on our monthly membership, which allows us to afford our membership!
I am crazy grateful for the sweet, caring women in Childwatch that take care of my kiddos while I workout.
Most of all- I thankful beyond measure for my health.  God has blessed me and I am so grateful.

I hope you have the BEST weekend and Happy Father's Day to all the Daddy's out there!! :)

I am linking up with Andrea and Erika for their Friday Favorites Link Up!
I am also linking up with April for Five on Friday!
Joining Karli for her, Oh Hey Friday Link Up! too!

Thoughts for Thursday!

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Hi!  Hope this finds you having an awesome week...Friday is one day away! :)  

My two older girls are 6 1/2 and 4 1/2....which are such FUN ages.  They love projects, crafts and making things in the kitchen.  Since we have a lot more available time now that we are on summer break AND we have been cooped up inside a little bit more than we like with LOTS of thunderstorms and rain, I decided to put together an "idea list" of treats and snacks we could make together!  

Here is what I have come up with so far!

We made dirt cake a couple years ago and my girls still talk about it!
This is definitely a treat I want to make with my girls this summer!
There are tons of recipes out there for dirt cake- this one looks super yummy!

I also love the idea of making "sand" too! My daughter Cora doesn't care for chocolate desserts, so she would love this treat! Also- how cute to put in a sand bucket!? Such a fun, summer dessert to make!

We talk a lot about making healthy food choices, so I thought making these granola bars would be SO fun and a great healthy snack!  I also love that you can "customize" them- add chocolate chips to half the batch, white chocolate chips to the other half!  Two of my girls LOVE chocolate and one of my girls DOES not (except she will eat Reese's butter cups and plain M&M's...DON'T ask-HA!)

We have some really, really great neighbors and my girls love bringing treats over to them- so I thought it would be a fun project to bake something for them!  One of their family members is gluten free, so we have to be a little more thoughtful when making them treats.  Aldi has an AMAZING selection of gluten free foods- so I told my girls- the next time we are at Aldi they have to pick out a gluten free cake mix so we can make cupcakes for our neighbors.  They are SO excited and they have promised they won't forget to remind me! :)  While it is a lot of fun to make treats that my girls can enjoy, I love creating opportunities where they are able to do something else for others.  I think baking treats for neighbors is a wonderful random act of kindness! :)  Here is the cake mix we will get at Aldi and then we will use our homemade cream cheese icing to top the cupcakes!

Finally, I thought it would be super fun to show my girls Mix and Match Mama's 100 Bundt Cake recipes and let them pick out a flavor that sounds yummy!  Shay's recipes are so simple and perfect for baking with your kids.  I also love making cupcakes using one of the bundt cakes recipes!  With 4th of July just around the corner, I have a feeling my girls are definitely going to want to make her Red, White and Blue Bundt Cake!  How fun!!

After writing this post, I have decided that for the rest of summer break, my older girls and I are going to bake a treat together, once a week, while the babies in our house take a nap.  I am always trying to think of ways I can be intentional with my older girls and I just know all 3 of us will have so much fun baking together!!

Do you love baking with your kids?  If so, share your favorite recipes with me!! Or are you more of a project/craft type of mom?  Can I send my kids over to your house if that is the case?? HA!

Hope you have a great day!!

Linking up with Annie and Natalie today!
 
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