Family Size OJ Smoothie: Part 2 Breakfast, Brunch, and Brinner

My breakfast of choice lately has been a massive smoothie. Mornings tend to be full of exciting moments at our house. My son runs upstairs and needs to poop to discover that the toilet paper was put up high the night before to prevent my 21 month old daughter from eating and unrolling the entire thing. Then Mommy needs to use the bathroom only to have the same 21 month old crying desperately for me outside my door, as if I’m going on a long journey for months on end.

Needless to say, a grab and go smoothie for this Mama on a run is efficient and (mostly) effortless.

We like to refer to my hubby, aka Daddy, as the “Smoothie Master.” He always comes up with yummy concoctions that satisfy adults and kiddos alike. This recipe happens to be our favorite. It is jam packed with nutrition found in kale, açai, hemp seeds, flax seed meal, and fruit! Check out this family sized recipe. Feel free to cut it in half or quarter it to meet your needs.

Servings: 2 Adults and 2 kids

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Blend Time: Until smooth

Ingredients:

  • 5 Cups of Kennessaw OJ with pulp
  • 3 stalks of kale
  • 2 açai packets (3.5/4 oz package)
  • 1.5 cups of frozen mango
  • 2 frozen bananas
  • 1/2 cup of blueberries
  • 2 scoops of Organic Vega Berry flavor protein powder
  • 1-2 tablespoons of flax meal (optional)
  • 1-2 tablespoons of hemp seeds (optional)

Add all ingredients into your blender and put on high until smooth, using the tamper if needed.

What’s your favorite go-to smoothie, Mama?

*Note, we use a Vitamix 64 oz and it is packed to the brim with all these ingredients.

 

 

Preparing for The Season of Lent

Can you believe it’s the first week of March, Mama? The year of 2019 seems to be flying by and I am trying to keep up with its fast past. Tomorrow, Wednesday, March 6, Lent begins.

I grew up with grandparents who loved Jesus and were devout Catholics. I have a very vivid memory of going to an Ash Wednesday service with them and having an ash put on my forehead around age 4. I have other memories as well. The smell of incense. The image of my Grandfather holding his Rosary beads. The sound of the recording of Hail Mary prayers on our car rides.

I attended a wide variety of denominations growing up…pentecostal, baptist, non-denominational, and presbyterian. It was my Grandparents’ influence, however that had me ponder the season of Lent when I grew older.

In years past, I’ve fasted from sweets, restaurants, dairy, and meat.

This year I stumbled upon a treasure. There’s this beautiful devotional called “40 Days of Decrease” by Alicia Britt Chloe.

Alicia challenges us to look past the superficial and seek to fast from deeper issues of the heart that we allow ourselves to engage in such as: comparison, accumulation, and gossip. She calls readers to “study Jesus’ uncommon and uncomfortable call to abandon the world’s allusions, embrace His kingdom’s reality, and journey cross-ward and beyond.”

The study guides the reader through John 12 to 21 over the course of 40 days, preparing our hearts and pointing to the celebration of Christ’s resurrection.

What I love is that it is available for free on the Hoopla app. All you need is your library card and you can access it!

What are you giving up for Lent this season, Mama?

Switching up My Quiet Time

Once I entered motherhood, I wasn’t sure where my quiet time disappeared to. I always enjoyed waking up early in the quiet of the morning and spending time with Jesus. Beth Moore was my early time bestie.

But then sleep came in two hour increments, and I was struggled to keep up with the day to day chores. Finding an hour to sit and read where I wasn’t dozing off was rare.

I was at a loss. I thrive on structure and learn best visually through reading and QA formats. I remained focused when praying through journaling to prevent my mind from wondering in a million different directions. I found it challenging to hold my journal and pen steady while breastfeeding.

I needed to switch it up, and pronto. I was using the above as excuses to not spend time with Jesus. When I haven’t spent time with Him, it’s not pretty. My flesh becomes super fleshy. My weaknesses become weaker. I try to do this motherhood and life thing on my own strength. Like I said, not pretty.

I was resistant to any further transition because the new developments in my life were dramatic enough. I didn’t know if I could handle anymore.

However, I was tired of making excuses. And craved that sweet Jesus time.

Here are a few tips that helped me in this season:

  1. Switch your Bible version. I had been reading NIV, NLT, and even NKJ for years, grew up in Sunday school, and was becoming bored with the Bible. I know that’s not a very Christian thing to admit, but it’s the truth. My mom bought me “The Message” bible for my first Mother’s Day, and I found it was so refreshing. It was like God Himself breathed into His Word and made it alive again for me.
  2. If you prefer someone to guide you in your time, switch up the guide. I discovered Jen Hatmaker’s “Out of the Spin Cycle” my son’s first year of life and it was perfect. It’s quick, humorous, Jesus-centered, and relatable to Mommyworld. My current favorite is Paul David Tripp. I love his study, “New Morning Mercies,” where he presents the beauty of the gospel on a daily basis.
  3. Switch up your time, make time, and be flexible. Like I said previously, I used to have my quiet time at the same early morning time every day. When a newborn entered my world, I found it effective to read something on my phone, or a devo that didn’t require a ton of writing. I also found it helpful to do it whenever I felt most awake. Sometimes I listen to podcasts while I run. Other days I put on worship music. Your quiet time is unique and there are opportunities to be creative in how you use that time.
  4. Switch up your expectations. Like I stated previously, I have found journaling to be very effective for me. However, it was somewhat unrealistic for me to journal every day. I recently made a goal to journal once a week. This is attainable for me in this season, and helps keep me grounded in my prayer and reflective time.

What ways do you connect with the Lord, Mama? Do you have any favorite guides or authors you are reading?

Breakfast, Brunch, and Brinner: Part 1

Happy New Year, Mamas! It’s been a looooong while since I’ve written a post. Between the 18 month sleep regression + teething + Christmas pageant + children waking at 5 am…my family is beginning to see the light at the end of an intense tunnel. Every now and then we go through an patch where everyone and everything seems so…extraordinary. Thankfully my Babes had off for seven days for the Christmas holiday and we’ve enjoyed some much needed down time at home. I hope you had a Merry Christmas and feel as refreshed as I do!

Breakfast has always been my favorite meal of the day. So much, that I’ll eat it anytime, not just first thing in the morning. I have fond memories of calling my Grandma Julie and inviting I and my sisters over for her famous breakfasts, along with my dad making me omelettes late at night in high school.

This will be the first in a series titled, “Breakfast, Brunch, and Brinner.” I’ll be sharing you some of my current treasures!

Over light Eggs and Sautéed Veggies With Goat Cheese

Servings: 2        Prep Time: 5 minutes        Cook Time: 10 minutes

Ingredients:

  • Olive oil
  • 1 cup of mushrooms
  • 1/2 a large yellow or purple onion
  • 4-6 eggs depending on how many each person wants
  • Garlic salt
  • Goat cheese

Directions:

  1. Put a pan on medium heat and lightly oil the pan.
  2. Dice veggies and place in pan. Sauté them until they are cooked to your preference. I personally like them a bit charred. Add a dash of garlic salt.                IMG_5817.jpeg
  3. In a separate pan, heat it up and cook your eggs until over light. IMG_5820.jpeg
  4. Serve onto a plate the eggs, goat cheese, and veggies on top. Putting the goat cheese in between the layers allows it to melt a bit.IMG_5821.jpeg
  5. Eat and enjoy!         IMG_5825.jpeg

This recipe is easy and the combination of the simple ingredients have made it a repeat in our home. What do you like to eat for breakfast, Mama?

Mothermostat

In the past week, I’ve been waking up in the middle of the night to my jammies and sheets drenched in sweat.

This fondly reminds me of my early postpartum days when I would perspire profusely every evening as my hormones aspired to find a new normal.

I’ve always been a heater at night. I must, however, have a blanket to snuggle with. Which means the AC needs to be adjusted to a cool temperature before cocooning myself and drifting off to dreamland.

Ah, the beauty of a thermostat. With just a few buttons, you can create the temperature your heart (or hormones) desire.

A thermometer is also a helpful tool, especially when our little ones are sick. A thermometer simply reads and communicates the current temperature in the room or person.

A thermostat, however, can be adjusted. Levels of hotness or coolness are changed based on what is needed in the current environment.

Let’s look at this real life scenario:

It’s 4:45 pm. Both my kids have eaten dinner. Most days I’m scrambling to put somthing simple together or serving leftovers for the third time. Our house has toys strewn over every square inch (or so it seems), the ground is covered with quinoa and whatever else we had for dinner (have you ever noticed how quinoa gets in every nook and cranny on a baby’s little body?), and it’s time to give the kiddos a quick bath before taking the family car to go pick up daddy from work so we can come home and they can bond for about 18 minutes with Daddy before brushing teeth, reading stories, and tucking them in bed. Oh, and all this needs to happen before 6:30 to prevent anyone getting overtired and missing that precious small window of oppurtune time to fall asleep.

My firstborn child starts to melt down at a rapid speed and high volume. My second born proceeds to throw herself back in the bathtub because she deeply desires to touch everything with her sticky dinner hands before you rinse her off AND doesn’t want the drain to be plugged in because where would the fun (or bath water) be in that?

Some days, I’m a mothermometer. Some days I give into the current temperature and allow the chaos to effect how I discipline, respond, and interact with my kiddos. My volume matches the volume of the firstborn and I’m throwing myself backwards mentally in my head.

Other days, I’m a mothermostat. Those days I choose to pause and ask for some much needed help from Jesus. When I rely on His strength in the midst of my weakness, I am able to contribute and change the current atmosphere in my home.

Despite the outward chaos, that sweet peace that passes all understanding rises up and words are spoken calmly.

What are you, Mama? A mothermometer or a mothermostat?

The Top Six Things I Wish I Knew About Postpartum (Before I Had My First Baby)

There are SO many things I wish I knew before experiencing postpartum. I’ve limited my list to my top six things for the sake of time.

  1. There’s no such thing as an ab delivery service. After having your baby, your body doesn’t instantaneously transform back to your pre-baby figure. See the picture of my stomach 2 days after giving birth to my second child. Remember the last six weeks of pregnancy? You would wake up to find your baby grew…a lot, overnight. There’s something really cool about the flip side of this. The first 6 weeks-ish after I had my babies I would see my stomach shrink dramatically day after day. A lot of this has to do with my next point, breastfeeding.
  2. Breastfeeding is a learning process. Keep those calories up Mama and keep drinking. Lots of water. I would keep a water bottle by me at all times. It’s important to drink and eat enough calories so your body has what it needs to make the milk. I’ll post a future article about breastfeeding tips. Breastfeeding isn’t always easy. Don’t hesitate to seek out a lactose consultant, the sooner the better! My daughter wasn’t latching properly and I had blisters on both nipples. It wasn’t pretty and it was painful. The $180 I paid for a consultant to come was worth every penny. (Think of how much money I would’ve spent in formula for a year!) I’ve had a great breastfeeding experience with my daughter and it wouldn’t have been possible without her! Give yourself grace as you learn what positions work best for you to hold your baby, and experiment. Take deep breaths before starting each feeding session. Your body is creating all the nutrients your baby needs, how amazing!
  3. Your body is healing. You just had a baby! Whether it’s was a c section or a vaginal birth, you need to let your body heal. Both of mine were vaginal births, and some advice I would give is kegel away! I liked to kegel while breastfeeding because I love multitasking (and that’s about the only task I could do in tandem with a newborn baby). My pelvic floor was shot after the marathon of labor, and I didn’t hesitate to seek out pelvic floor therapy after my first. Be sure to have your doctor/midwife check for diastasis recti and seek out exercises that help repair this condition if needed. You will bleed down there after giving birth, so take it easy on certain activities.
  4. Press pause on sex and exercise until six weeks after or until you’re done bleeding. Check with your doctor on this and make sure you get clearance at your six week follow up appointment. In my fairy tale running world, I thought I would go for a run the day after I gave birth to my first. Thankfully, my midwife had a stern conversation with me prior to giving birth. Her two words “organ prolapse” were enough to put the fear of God into me. When the baby grows inside you, your uterus grows with it. After giving birth, your uterus will contract back to its original size over time. Breastfeeding helps with this, causing it to contract! (Isn’t our body cool?) The key words here are over time. Your organs were pushed up and down and all around. (Remember always feeling like your baby was sitting on your bladder near the end of your pregnancy?) As your uterus returns to it’s normal size, the organs find their proper positions once again.
  5. Limit your list. This one was so hard for me. I love creating lists and checking things off as I accomplish them. Each time I became a mother, I had to shift my way of thinking. I might not get the laundry, cooking, or cleaning done. But I did breastfeed my son/daughter every two hours. I did change lots of diapers. I did keep myself nourished and hydrated. Be realistic and adjust your expectations for yourself as you are learning how to be a mother.
  6. Ask for help and work smarter. We have a great community of friends and family, and I am so thankful! I don’t know what I would’ve done without them. People cooked meals and dropped them off. I didn’t hesitate to ask someone to fold laundry or watch my kids while I took a quick catnap. Make use of the many services available to us today! Grocery delivery service? Yes, please!

What about you, Mama? What surprised you about postpartum? What advice or wisdom would you pass onto new Mamas?

No Means Yes

I have a major case of FOMO. My college years consisted of jam packed schedules with multiple jobs and events. Cleaning jobs, babysitting jobs, a retail position, serving at my church, fun get togethers with friends…I barely stopped to take a breath.

I graduated college, began my career as an Elementary teacher, and got married all within a years time. My itinerary the first few years of teaching consisted of multiple week night commitments, my Saturday filled with homeless ministry and a standing dinner. This was in addition to navigating the balance of grading papers, testing, and all the balls teachers juggle.

Then a good friend recommended the book Boundaries by Dr. Henry Cloud. This book was life changing for me.

Fast forward a few years and I entered the beautiful challenging world of motherhood.

I was not aware of all the opportunities available for babies…music class, story time, gym class. The numerous supplements granola mommy bloggers said my kids had to have: cod liver oil, probiotics, multivitamins. The need for community as a mom, and the diverse ways I could seek this out: bible studies, life groups, MOPs. The multiple invites to play dates. The family get togethers.

I struggled to say no because I struggled with the fear of missing out.

One thing I’ve discovered over time is that sometimes saying no is really saying yes.

When I choose to say no to a family dinner at 7:00 pm, I am choosing to say yes to my children’s need for sleep. I am saying yes to our routine and the peace that results in babies that are well rested.

When I say no to an 8 hour church event on a Saturday, I am choosing to say yes to our family time. Family time that is so rare and precious with a Daddy who works so hard to support our family Monday through Friday.

When I say no to filling my shopping cart with those extra want-not-need items at the grocery store, or no to eating out, I am choosing to say yes to our budget. I am being a good steward of the resources made available to me.

My no, and my yes, will look different in various seasons. They will vary from other mamas.

For so long, I’ve focused on the no but I want to focus on what I’m saying yes to. Yes to putting God first and family second. Yes to intentional family time and Sabbath. Yes to financial freedom.

What are you saying yes to, Mama?

*This post contains affiliate links.

 

Confident for the Kingdom

“Well (insert classmate’s name here) didn’t raise his hand in school today. Even though he’s four I know more than him because I always raise my hand in school. AND I’ve been to school two times.”    -Aiden Jo, four years old, after his third day of VPK.

One thing my son does not lack is good self esteem. I’m not quite sure if he was born that way, OR if all the words of affirmation he’s received over the course of his life have helped shape him to be the confident young man he is.

His above statement led into a conversation of how we all might forget things every now and then. I gently reminded my son that he forgot which table to sit at that morning when he first walked into school.

This Mama is a firm believer in humility. After all, Michah 6:8 calls us to “do what is right, love mercy, and walk humbly.” The Bible is full of verses on the art of being humble. And let’s be real, no one likes a braggart.

We often have to give our sure-of-himself-son a dose of reality. For example, one day he stated that he was a better piano player than his daddy. His Daddy who was classically trained in piano for 15 years. Aiden is very passionate about music, but hasn’t quite caught up to his Daddy on this one, yet.

As parents, we exemplify humility to our children. Yet, we also strive to raise children to be confident in who God created them to be. This will result in them becomming kingdom movers and shakers

What if our children didn’t suffer from pride or false humility, but went through life fearless, hopeful, and courageous? What if they were bold in their gifts and talents, not second-guessing themselves or comparing their abilities to others?

As Mamas, let’s practice encouragement. Build up your child with your words. Call them into greatness.

I don’t know about you, but I desire to raise children that are confident for the Kingdom.

How do you build your child’s confidence, Mama? What gifts and talents do you see in them at an early age?

Saturday at the Simke’s

I love, love, love SATURDAYS! Mostly because it’s time for I, my Babes, and our kids to just be present and enjoy each other’s presence. We aren’t rushing through breakfast, hurriedly getting dressed, and dashing to the car.

On Saturdays, we take it easy.

On Saturdays, we usually do a variety of the same things.

We typically we make a big breakfast. Today’s menu included yummy vegan blueberry pancakes.

An active outdoor family outing is also included in our Sabbath regime.

Last weekend we did our first family run/bike ride/carriage ride. I am so proud of my Aiden Jo for riding his bike 3 miles! What a champ. Lil enjoyed lounging as she cruised along.

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Most summer weekends include swimming at the pool.

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All Saturdays include naps. Ahhhh naps. During Lil’s nap time today, Daddy and I fell asleep on the couch while Aiden played in his room quietly.

Our family is very musical. I happen to have the talent of music appreciation, while Babes and the kiddos jam. We enjoy worshipping together. Today’s band attire was simply bottoms…with lots of laundry on stage.

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We read a LOT on Saturdays (and every day). This is my personal favorite way to unwind, and the love has passed along to both my children.

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Good food is a must for our foodie family. This Saturday’s lunch was leftover lentil soup and a Vega/açai smoothie. Chipotle for dinner, to be followed by the best vegan cookies ever.

My favorite way to end a Saturday is on the couch chatting with my Babes.

How do you and your family like to spend your Saturdays, Mama?

 

 

Six Things to Do Six Weeks Before You’re Due

You’re in the final trimester, six weeks before your due date. Here’s my suggested six things to do to help prepare you for birth and baby:

  1. Water break. Keep drinking lots of water, Mama. But also, prepare for your bag of waters to break. I covered my mattress with a shower curtain and then my sheets. I also stocked my car with a spare towel or two in case my water broke while I was out and about.
  2. Eat dates. This is the time to increase your date consumption. Multiple studies that eating dates four weeks before your due date could decrease the amount of time and strain in labor. Dates are also a powerhouse food, packed with nutrition. (Stay tuned for a date smoothie recipe!)
  3. Self-care. Take care of yourself, Mama. Go get a hair cut, massage, or pedicure. Take a walk, lay out in the sun. Take a nap. Take lots of naps. Take a nap every day. Did I mention, take a nap?
  4. Date night. Go on a date with your Babes. The weeks and few months after having  a baby are precious and consumed with taking care of your little one. Make time for your #1 team mate and enjoy each other’s company.
  5. Create a birth plan. Now’s a great time to work on your birth plan! Imagine what you desire your birth to look like and be on the same page with your medical team.
  6. Speak life over yourself and baby. Tell your baby how excited you are to meet them! Speak life over the labor process, trusting that God created your and your baby’s bodies. I personally enjoyed reading other’s positive birth stories to help build my faith.

What things did you do to prepare in the weeks leading up to your labor, Mama?