What's Up Wednesday!

Wednesday, October 30, 2019 is the last Wednesday of the month (how is that even possible?!?!)...which means it is time for a What's Up Wednesday Post!  I am excited to be joining Shay and Sheaffer for their super fun link up party today!
What we're eating this week...As always- our menu for the week is all about SIMPLE and EASY meals. 
Here's what our family will be eating this week!

MONDAY: Chicken strips, mashed potatoes and steamed broccoli
TUESDAY: Shredded chicken tacos, refried beans and corn
WEDNESDAY: Cheeseburgers, chips and green beans
THURSDAY: Grilled cheese and potato corn chowder
FRIDAY: Pizza!!
SATURDAY: Dinner out- our friend is visiting!
SUNDAY: Skinnytaste Chicken Enchiladas, black beans and side salads- you can find the recipe HERE!

What I'm reminiscing about...
This time, FOUR years ago, we were announced we were expecting our fifth baby!! FOUR YEARS ago. WOW. Seriously feels like yesterday!!! SUCH a FUN memory!!!! I LOVED taking these pictures!!

What I am loving....I recently got some of Tarte's Shape Tape Concealer and it is GOOD. It definitely lives up to all of the hype and the crazy amazing reviews it has!!!!
A little goes a LONG way and it lasts all day. I can really notice a difference when I use and when I don't!! It's definitely not cheap ($27)- but SO worth it in my opinion!!!
What we've been up to...enjoying the beautiful fall weather and doing lots of hiking!!

This past weekend we drove about an hour north of us and went to Medoc State Park- it was GORGEOUS!
 We have an amazing nature center about 15 minutes from us and I love taking the kids there to hike!
 LOVE this crew!! Thankful they love to be outside as much as I do!
What I'm the most cheerful, joyful way..I am kind of dreading dragging out all of our Christmas decor. HA! I like to get the house decorated by mid-November and while I LOVE having all of our decorations up- the actual decorating process is not my favorite. HA!

What I'm working on...learning how to play tennis!!! I just completed a 6 week "Try Tennis" course where you are taught the basics of tennis. Now, we are doing a course called "Try Play," where we are actually PLAYING! We are playing doubles and it is an absolutely BLAST. I am terrible and still have so much to learn- but I am loving it!! I play with the nicest ladies who are all learning too and it's just a great, supportive environment!!
What I am watching/reading...we are so happy the "Chicago" shows are back in full swing! We also love Blue Bloods!! And I ALWAYS love watching Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives!! I am not currently reading anything- but I am planning on getting to the library soon and stocking up on some books. Reading is not something that I find easy to do in this season of life...but it's something I really enjoy doing if I find the right book! I am AMAZED by the people who read MULTIPLE books a month. I always think I am going to read once I get in bed and about 2 seconds in the reading, I have passed out. HA!

A couple of years ago I read the first two books from Elin Hilderbrand's Winter Stroll series. I want to read the last two she has written- so that is what I will be looking for when I go to the library!

What I am listening to...Needtobreathe on Pandora! Hands down my favorite station! The kids and I always listen to K-Love (Christian radio station) when we are driving around town. My current favorite song is "Reason" by Unspoken. The lyrics speak to STRAIGHT to my heart! 
What I'm wearing...I have been wearing jeans and short sleeve tops mostly!! The weather is just finally starting to cool down here in Eastern North Carolina!!
Here's a few items in my closet that have been on major repeat lately!!

Super cute top from Loft, jeans from Walmart, waffle tunic top from Walmart, jeans from Target and this cute pumpkin t-shirt from an online boutique called Peach Marketplace!
What I'm doing this weekend...Our friend Michaela is coming to visit us!! I met Michaela when I moved to Chicago back in 2004 and we were roommates for 2 years! One random weekend in February 2006, we took a trip together to Austin and almost immediately upon arriving, I knew I wanted to move there! I moved to Austin in June 2006 and then she decided to join me- so we were roomies in Austin for a year! It was SO fun.
She has since moved back to Chicago where she now owns a gorgeous condo- but we've always kept in touch!! We haven't seen each other in a few years- but I know we are going to have the BEST time and it's going to feel like no time has passed at all!!

What I'm looking forward to next month...Can I be vulnerable for a minute and just share that I am actually not looking forward to Thanksgiving or much about this upcoming month? This will be the first Thanksgiving we have not traveled back to Illinois to my mom's house and this is the first Thanksgiving without my dad. Right now- all I am thinking about is how last November he wasn't doing well- but he was still HERE. And now he is not. Grief is hard and the reality of losing someone that was so BIG and SPECIAL in your life creates an ache that just doesn't go away. I am not sure what we will be doing for Thanksgiving but I am thankful I will be with my precious kiddos and amazing husband. 
The details don't really matter to me :)

What else is new...nothing! :) Life is FULL, slightly chaotic and FUN!

Hope you have the most WONDERFUL Wednesday!!

Hello Monday!

Monday, October 28, 2019

Hi friends!!
Happy Monday! 

How was your weekend??
We had a really good one. The kids were off on Friday and we were watching my friend's daughter- so I kept the kids busy ALL.DAY.LONG. We went to the store, got a car wash, went hiking, had a picnic lunch and ended our fun Friday by going to a super fun event our downtown sponsors the night before home football games. There was a Zac Brown Cover band playing and it was seriously SO fun!

Saturday, we went on a little road trip to check out a lake a couple hours from us. We checked out the area and had a picnic lunch. Then on the way home, we stopped off at Medoc State Park- and went hiking on two different trails- and had a GREAT time. We did a lot of driving around and exploring and the kids were troopers. 
(Obviously there was whining and complaining and a lot of "I'M STILL HUNGRY- but overall they were pretty great!)
Sunday morning we went to church and once we got home and everyone had lunch- I did some baking! I am taking a big dinner this week, to one of our local missionary groups that guides and loves on high schoolers in our town and I wanted to make sure they had some yummy treats to have after dinner! I made a big pan of brownies and two types of cookies- oatmeal chocolate chip and good ol' chocolate chip!
 My girls spent all Sunday afternoon preparing for our annual "Spooky Dinner." I think we have been doing this dinner for at least 4 years now! The girls plan the menu, decorate and make dinner! I took care of dessert :)
 They each made something special for every table setting. Celine wrote everyone a poem. Cora wrote out everyone's menu and Charlotte colored everyone a My Little Pony Halloween picture :)
It's so neat to see how excited they get and how much they love to have their "own" project. And it's especially fun for me, because now that they are older- they are SO much more independent and I have to do less helping!! :)
 I had to really force myself to get a meal plan together for this week...I always have a harder time in the months where there is technically 5 weeks- I just feel like I have run out of ideas! HA!  We've got some easy- but yummy meals on the menu- and hopefully there will be little to no complaining from my crew about what's for dinner. HA!

Here's what our family will be eating this week!

MONDAY: Chicken strips, mashed potatoes and steamed broccoli
TUESDAY: Shredded chicken tacos, refried beans and corn
WEDNESDAY: Cheeseburgers, chips and green beans
THURSDAY: Grilled cheese and potato corn chowder
FRIDAY: Pizza!!
SATURDAY: Dinner out- our friend is visiting!
SUNDAY: Skinnytaste Chicken Enchiladas, black beans and side salads- you can find the recipe HERE!
It's going to be a full week for I am sure it will be for you too- with Halloween on Thursday night!

Here's a few goals I am setting for myself in the midst of all the craziness:

1) Exercise everyday and stay on track with my nutrition. I have had some headaches lately...not sure if they are hormonal? I've been pretty congested the last few that could be a part of it too. Either way- I want to make sure I am doing everything I can to help kick those darn headaches to the curb by drinking plenty of water and eating GOOD, CLEAN food. 
#stayawayfrommehalloweencandy - HA!

2) Stay on top of household chores and laundry- we have a friend coming to visit us on Saturday and I really don't want to be scrambling around on Friday night doing all the things I should have done throughout the week!

3) Every day- write down my "Top 3" I MUST get done. Don't sweat the other 20 or 100 little things I need to do. I can get so bogged down in little things I need to accomplish that I miss my window of opportunity to get DONE what I really need to DO. 
Tell me I am not the only one like this?!? HA!

4) Give each of my kids a bear hug every day and look them in the eyes and tell them I love them. I will be very honest and say is not something I do regularly. I tell them I love them and I give them hugs- but...not always very intentionally. I want to press PAUSE for just a minute and make sure they know mommy SEES them and loves them!!
SO simple and SO important and it's something I am committed to making a habit! :)

What are some goals you are hoping to tackle this week??

I hope you have the BEST day and a wonderful start to your week!!

Linking up with HeatherJohannahTanya and Lindsay!

Friday Favorites!!!

Friday, October 25, 2019

Hi friends!!!

Happy Friday!!!

How was your week???

Our's was good!! Everyone is HEALTHY and I am so thankful for that after our fun experience with the stomach bug last week. HA!

I do have to be honest and say...while we've had a good week- I have just felt "off." I don't know why (well I kind of do...#hormones) but I have just felt funky and like I can't find my groove. I am just chalking it up to life being a constant ebb and flow...and just trying to stay grounded in healthy habits (not eating crap! moving my body! getting outside!) and allowing myself to feel what I feel...but also not letting my emotions dictate my actions.

I am definitely feeling HAPPY about it being Friday! My kiddos are off school today and I am watching my friend's it will be a FULL day...but I am pretty happy about having an extra day off the morning rush! YAY for a three day weekend!!

Here's a few FAVORITES of mine from this past week!!

Two words: APPLE NACHOS.
YUM. I made this yummy little plate for my daughter's afternoon snack the other day and she LOVED it!! Thinly sliced honeycrisp apple slices, a few Halloweeen pretzels, a drizzle of peanut butter and a sprinkling of mini chocolate chips....
this is definitely one our FAVORITE snacks!!
Speaking of yummy food...I wanted to share with ya'll two treats I donated to our school's country store that we have at our annual Halloween Carnival (which was last night!).
So real quick- everyone donates their best treats, cakes, cookies, pies, crafts and casseroles to our country store. Then they are sold and all the benefits go to the school!
It is so much fun to see all the amazing food people make and it's super fun to pick up a yummy treat or a casserole for an easy weeknight dinner!

I wanted to do a little something different this year- so instead of making a bunch of chocolate chip cookies- I made 3 containers of my BEST chocolate chip cookie dough. 
You can find the recipe HERE!
I made a laminated recipe card and included a cute Pioneer Woman spatula!!
I thought it turned out so cute!
 Another item I donated was pumpkin bread! I use Johannah's recipe- you can find it HERE!
I made a laminated recipe card to go with it and wrapped in this really cute dish cloth I got from Walmart! You can find the dishcloths HERE- they come in a pack of two!
I just thought it was fun to do a little something more than just make cookies and bread!  :)

And since all of my favorites this week seem to be revolving around yummy food..HA!...I am going to keep up with that theme and suggest you go check out my post from Wednesday where I share about these symphony bars from the blog Naptime Kitchen!
 FRIENDS. MAKE THESE BARS. They are SO good and definitely the new FAVORITE treat in our house!! And the new FAVORITE treat for me to make when we go to a party/pot-luck/cookout!! :)
As I am writing this blog post, I am wearing my new FAVORITE sweatshirt. 
And if you guessed that I got it at Walmart- then you are right. HA!
This sweatshirt is SO cozy- not overly heavy- and super CUTE.
It's $16.96...and I know I am going to get a TON of wear out of it!!
It comes in several colors including a beautiful baby blue color and a gorgeous rose color. I was particularly drawn to this pretty off white color!!
For sizing reference- I would say stick with your regular size or maybe even size down. I got an XS and there is PLENTY of room in it!
You can find it HERE on and definitely check your local Walmart to see if they have them in the store!
Oh my goodness! This quote is my new FAVORITE quote about fall.
Being outside, exploring, with the fall leaves crunching underneath my feet is truly my HAPPY place.
I am so excited because tomorrow we're going on a little fall family adventure and planning on spending all of our daylight hours in the autumnal sunshine!! We're going to visit an area in Virginia about 1.5 hours away from us and go hiking! 
We're packing a picnic lunch and I can't wait!!!
Like I already mentioned- it's a day off of school for us- so we have the whole day available to PLAY! I am going to pack everyone a lunch and we are going to spend the morning at a local nature preserve!! I am thinking ice cream cones might be in order this afternoon if everyone minds their manners while we are out and about! ;)

What plans do you have for the weekend?? Is it a chilling type of weekend or a jam packed do all the fun fall things type of weekend?

Hope you have a FABULOUS Friday and a WONDERFUL Weekend!

Linking up with TifBeckyDella,and Katie too!

Linking up with AndreaErika and Narci!

What I am Loving Wednesday!

Wednesday, October 23, 2019

Hi friends!!

Happy Wednesday!!

How is your week going so far??

We are having a MUCH better week than we did last week! THANK GOODNESS. 

The highlight of our week so far- and I have a feeling it's not going to be topped- is that my oldest brother and his wife had their first baby on Monday!!!! That makes TEN grandkids on my side of the family! My brother and his wife did NOT have an easy journey growing their family and their precious son is such a MIRACLE. And a HUGE ray of LIGHT for our family in the midst of mourning the loss of our father.  So YAY for a brand new fresh happy healthy BABY BOY!
Okay...let's jump right into some things I have been loving lately!!

After being sick last week and not working out for a couple of days- I have to tell you it feels SO good to be back to exercising/working out/moving my body. 
Whatever you want to call it- I am HAPPY to be back to doing it.
The last few months, I have realized that I actually have stopped working out for weight loss purposes and am solely doing it because it is something that is SO important for my overall well being. And coming to that realization has really taken a lot of pressure off of me feeling like I HAVE to get in a certain amount of miles or I HAVE to get in at least 2 days of strength training or any other "type" of workout for that matter.
 I wake up every day and right before I get to the gym or head outside (if I am working out at home), I decide what would feel good to do. Some days that is running sprints on the treadmill, some days that is power walking while pushing Marshall in the stroller. And somedays I just start running and take it from there. 
I have come to such a DEEP appreciation of my body and my health- and really- what exercising is to me is a GIFT.
It feels GOOD to feel GOOD!
I just added a few new songs to my Ipod shuffle and "Reason," by Unspoken is on MAJOR repeat. It's SO good!!! If you haven't heard this song yet- GO LISTEN TO IT RIGHT NOW!!!
You can find it HERE on Youtube!
I recently started following Kate, who writes a food blog called Naptime Kitchen. I also follow her on Instagram- and she just seems like the MOST genuine, amazingly fun and nice person. She recently shared that she was making a batch of her symphony bars- and I was INTRIGUED. I LOVE a good bar. HA!
This is the EASIEST recipe EVER and in the last week, I have already made 3 batches of them and they come out DELICIOUS and perfect every time!
Click HERE for the recipe!!! Spoiler alert- you only need 4 ingredients (and some water) to make these AMAZING brownies/bars!!!
I am already planning on these being my GO-TO dessert for the holidays!!
(The only thing to consider is that these do have nuts in them- so something to remember if you need to keep nut allergies in mind!)

As I mentioned above- I love Kate- and so it didn't surprise me at all that this post on Kate's IG account @naptimekitchen RESONATED with me SO much!!! I am definitely in a season of parenting many different stages/ages that has me feeling quite stretched. And I don't always deal with that feeling of being stretched in the best way. I loved what Kate had to say how becoming a thermostat versus a thermometer. Check out her post HERE!
And that's what I have been loving lately friends!!

Tell me- what's something that YOU are loving? A new podcast? A fun recipe? A cute shirt? 
Share with me in the comments!!

Hope you have the BEST day!

Linking up with StefanieKeriMauriSarah, and Lindsay today!

Hello Monday!

Monday, October 21, 2019

Hi friends!! Happy Monday!!

How was your weekend??

Well...Our's went a little different than planned. HA!
As I mentioned in my post this past Friday (you can read it HERE), we got hit with the stomach bug last week. Three of my 5 kids PLUS me.
Well...I thought we were in the clear- but NOPE. It hit Aaron on Saturday. 
Which means we had to cancel our date night :( 
(Second month in a row we've had to cancel...but who is counting?!? HA!)

So poor guy had to work for the majority of the day, while feeling awful, then he got sick, came home and was in bed for the rest of Saturday.

Side note: Look at this ADORABLE note James made for Aaron!!! Melt. My. HEART. James was so worried about his daddy.
P.S. Is there anything cuter than the way 5 year olds write?!?
Anyway...we did manage to have some fun on Saturday and I would say the highlight was attending our town's Children's Art Festival!

The weather was beautiful and there were SO many fun art stations set up for the kids!
 While the big girls crafted, the three little ones played with the oversized blocks and have the BEST time!
 Once we got home from the art festival (and an Aldi run), I got busy in my kitchen, baking up a storm for our school's "Country Store." We have a big Halloween carnival every year and one of the fundraisers at the carnival is our Country Store. Everyone bakes and cooks and donates their best dishes and desserts and then they get sold!
 I made 3 batches of cinnamon rolls, 2 loaves of pumpkin bread, a huge triple chocolate cake and a double batch of symphony bars (I am going to share the recipe on Wednesday!)- and I had the dishes to prove it! HA!
It was a lot of work getting everything baked- but I am so glad I just got it ALL done!

I also made myself get organized for the 2nd week in a row- and have a good menu plan set for the week! Here's what our family will be having for dinner!
MONDAY: Spaghetti Dinner at Church- YAY for no cooking on a Monday!
TUESDAY: Crunchy ground beef tacos, black beans, corn and applesauce
WEDNESDAY: Turkey kielbasa, mashed potatoes and steamed broccoli
THURSDAY: At Home Chick-Fil-A night: chicken nuggets, waffle fries and apple slices
SATURDAY: Skinnytaste Crock Pot Sante Fe Chicken, cheese quesadillas and applesauce
SUNDAY: Burgers, sweet potato fries and green beans

Sunday was an ok day. Aaron was feeling much better- THANK GOODNESS.
Aaron went into work, We went to church and once we got home, I tackled the girls closet with them and went through all of their clothes and changed out their shorts to pants and well- you can imagine what a barrel of fun that was. HA!
We went for a walk before dinner and one of the kiddos decided to scream the entire time because his legs "HURT SO BAD." It was delightful. HA!

This made me laugh!! This is what I felt like saying last night, RIGHT as we were finishing dinner and Aaron got another call to go into the hospital (after he already been there earlier in the day). 
I have to be honest...while we had some GOOD moments this weekend: Children's Art Festival! Church! Ending our weekend with ice cream sundaes! 
I am VERY happy to see Monday. Some days/weekends/weeks are just harder than others and I am really looking forward to a fresh, new HEALTHY week. 

Also- I am REALLY hoping one of the 10 babysitters I asked to watch our kids for us this upcoming Friday is available- because we are desperate for a date night! HA!

Okay Monday- LET'S DO THIS. I am ready!

Hope you have the BEST day!

Linking up with HeatherJohannahTanya and Lindsay!

Friday Favorites!!

Friday, October 18, 2019

Happy Friday!!
How was your week?

Well friends. Let's just say I am VERY happy to see the weekend on the horizon. HA! And that's saying quite a bit considering it's Aaron's weekend to work. HA! I mentioned in my post on Wednesday that my sons, James and Marshall, AND my daughter Celine all got a stomach bug earlier in the week. 
Well..mama wasn't spared. UGH. I got SUPER sick and was pretty much down and out for about 36 hours. Which in the grand scheme of things is not a big deal- but we had quite a bit going on this week and the timing was just not super great. ANYWAY. 
I am better and feel SO thankful to not have the chills and actually have an appetite! HA! I feel like the yuckiness would have hit my 2 oldest daughters by now- so I am really hoping we are in the clear and our weekend is puke free. HA!

Moving on to bigger and brighter things....
Time for a few FAVORITES from this past week!

My friend April shared these eye masks with me awhile back and I LOVED them so much- I ended up buying my own stock of them. They are ridiculously cheap, you can get them off of Amazon (HERE's the link) and they seriously WORK. As I have gotten older, my under eye region is definitely PUFFY if I don't get enough sleep or if I have been sick. Gold Eye Masks to the RESCUE!
I will put these little pillows of gold, as I like to call them, under my eyes and then do my hair, brush my teeth, make my bed, etc. After about 10 minutes (I sometimes leave mine on longer)- you just take them off and BOOM! Under eye puffiness is seriously decreased. 
I won't say it completely goes away- but I can tell a BIG difference! 
They are one of my FAVORITE beauty products for sure!
FYI: There are a lot of these types of gold eye masks on Amazon if you did a search for them. I made the mistake of ordering a different kind than the ones April shared with me and I could tell they were if you want to make sure you get the ones I am recommending- check them out HERE!
Aaron was out of town last weekend and one of the adventures I planned for the kids and me to do was go hiking! We had the BEST time! Being in nature, with my kids, moving our bodies- is one of my FAVORITE things ever to do! I told my husband- we need start going hiking more regularly now that our kiddos are a little bit older. They had a BLAST finding sticks and looking for tadpoles and it was just the best way to spend an afternoon!
I shared about this adorable mini waffle pan in my post on Monday- but thought it was worth sharing again!! One of my blogging friends Whitney mentioned it and so of course, I promptly went and bought one for our family!
It make the CUTEST mini waffles and was such a huge hit with my kids!! It is $9.99 on Amazon- you can find it HERE! A cute little festive kitchen tool that is under $10?? 
On Tuesday, my daughter Celine was home sick- which meant we couldn't go anywhere. Poor thing just felt so terrible! 
I ALWAYS leave the house- it's just part of my day- and I have to tell you- I was feeling some anxiety about the fact I was "stuck" at home. 
It was such a beautiful day and I had really hoped to take Marshall to the park and get in a nice long walk. 
I decided to make the most of the gorgeous weather and took Marshall on a walk in our neighborhood! We did several laps and had the sweetest time chatting and enjoying the sunshine!
Can we please talk about how adorable my Marshall is?!? 
His scrunchy nose smile gets me EVERY TIME!
We have a FUN fall weekend ahead of us!! The kids and I have plans to go to our town's children's art festival tomorrow and then once Aaron gets off work- we are headed out on a DATE! YAY! 
It's been a couple of months since we've gone out and I am definitely looking forward to an evening with my FAVORITE person.
Sunday, after church, we are going to a fall festival at the camp my daughter went to this past summer! Should be lots of fun!
In case you missed any my other posts this week- you can check out my menu plan for the week HERE! I shared about a few things I am loving lately HERE in this post! And yesterday I did a VERY informal review of a high end pair of yoga pants and a more affordable pair! You can check it out HERE!

Hope you have a FABULOUS Friday and a WONDERFUL Weekend!

Linking up with TifBeckyDella,and Katie too!

Linking up with AndreaErika and Narci!