Wednesday, October 26, 2016

YOU Are Enough

I feel like the word "enough" in our society is not acceptable. Our culture screams for more and More and MORE. Enough is never "enough".

And that is why I think as mothers we struggle to find that "enoughness".

How many times have you wondered if you are doing enough and even if you ARE enough?

Everyday, the pulls of cleaning, maintaining the home, maintaining a job, maintaining control, and sometimes just maintaining survival, can be draining. We wonder, "am I enough"? Is what I am doing, enough?

I am here to tell you - IT'S ENOUGH.


NO "WELL..."S.

Do not let the lies of Satan ruin what God is trying to do in and through you. I get caught up in them all too often.

I vividly remember holding Mazy one day when she was just a few months old, in just a mess of tears because I could not calm her down. I was completely worn out. She wasn't sleeping it felt like ever, and that meant I wasn't sleeping. I felt I had nothing left to give, but tears to God. I know at any given moment, if I made it known to a friend, they would have come over in a heartbeat, but I needed that moment. I needed to get to that place to be reminded that I AM ENOUGH and GOD IS ENOUGH too.

I am the perfect mother for Mazy Grace. God has woven into the very fabric of me, the things that compliment Mazy's needs. The very strands that have created a tapestry fit for our sweet daughter.

But do we see ourselves as a tapestry? A beautifully, laid out tapestry, where each thread was woven into it, by the very hands of God? A Father who loves us so dearly, that each strand has created a different looking tapestry than that of our neighbors and friends? We are unique - designed for a unique purpose.

I fall into the lies and tell myself that certain strands aren't good enough. That I need to add more strands. That my tapestry should look different because I need to do more and be more.

And that's a lie.

Okay, I know that as Christians we are to not become stagnant. But I think often times, we are looking for "threads" that aren't there. We fail to look at the threads that God has already given us and those are the ones that sit unused - the threads that are stagnant and have yet to be used to make the beautiful tapestry He designed before we were even born.

But again, that is why YOU are ENOUGH.

God has given you everything you need, to be YOU. He has given you the skills and love you need to mother your children well (believe it or not!) He has given you the capacity you need to still stay sane (believe it or not). He has given you all that you need to serve Him (believe it or not). Sometimes we have to look no further than at ourselves. We need to sit back, think about the gifts (inward and outward) that He has given us, to realize that WE ARE ENOUGH.

You are doing what you can. Don't let the social media world and Pinterest tell you that you have to look like a model, need to wear only designer clothes, decorate your home with only high-end items, drive the latest model car, and cook these 5 course clean-eating meals every single day.

Let's be honest:
After having a kid, your body will never be the same.
Even designer clothes can rip, get spit up on, and drawn on with pen.
Even high-end items get ruined - think flying toys that aren't supposed to fly!
Even new cars can get dents - can I just say "Walmart parking lot?"
Who has time to eat a 5 course meal anyways?

Do not set these unrealistic expectations for yourself. When you think about who you want to be, who are you comparing yourself to? Who comes to mind? What type of lifestyle comes to mind?

If you answered those 3 questions, you are telling yourself YOU are not enough. Don't believe the lies. You should have no answer for those questions (except if you answered Christ, of course).





Monday, October 24, 2016

Around The Home

This girl continues to steal our hearts! The other day Dan said "And to think we wondered if we would ever have our own" and now here we sit with the most perfect girl in our arms! 

Yes, we do have more going on in our life than just Mazy, but really, we are just still marveling at the fact that she is with us here on this earth. What a gift and what a miracle!

Dan is done with docks, which means Dan is a little less crazy busy! He felt so free that he sent ME on a night away, just by myself! We had enough points for me to stay free at a hotel, and believe it or not, I chose a hotel right in Willmar! I had no need to go far, but just needed a night away on my own. I'm telling you, it was AMAZING. I think I spent almost 1 hour at Target alone! I mean who does that? I went to a sit-down restaurant by myself, and worked on editing our book that we are writing. I spent time thinking, praying, reading, and taking long showers. What a gift and what an amazing husband I have for him to offer that to me. Granted Dan will be hunting in a few weeks for a few weekends, but just to have 24 hours to do whatever my heart desired. Wowzas.

Though, I must say I was ready to come home to this sweet girl:

Always makes us laugh when she puts on our clothes!

Not much beats a sleeping toddler's snuggles.

Mazy is pretty talented at putting daddy's socks on. I walked into the living room to her looking like this - all by herself!

Made homemade apple cider! At first it wasn't my fav, but the longer it sat, the better it tasted. Recipe coming soon!

While on my night away, I sat and read a cookbook. Couldn't be more relaxing!

Saturday was such a nice day that after I got home, I decided it was time to wash the van. My little sidekick knew exactly what to do too. She is a girl after my own heart because she likes things clean, organized, and put away. Ah...

Just by her face, you can tell she is loving her swing! She would go swinging 10x a day (and that is no exaggeration!)

Sunday morning it was all about the flannels! Mazy thought it was pretty funny too.

Wow, it's almost the end of October already!? Loving the fall weather, though we do miss the Michigan colors at times. It has just been beautiful and we know that snow is probably just around the corner here in Minnesota! I believe Mazy is going to love it, so there will be no slowing down of us going outside, I"m sure!

Saturday, October 22, 2016

A Cookbook You Will Not Be Able To Put Down

Every minute in life is precious. How we choose to spend those minutes is up to us.

Think about how much time you spend getting ready in the morning? Getting the kids ready? Picking up and cleaning up? Making food?

As much as I enjoy food, the last thing I want to do is be spending precious hours in the kitchen, just to provide a decent meal for my family to eat. I want to save those precious minutes and hours for the things I WANT to be spending my time on.

Over the past year, thanks to Lisa Leake's first cookbook 100 Days of Real Food, I have tried to transform some of our eating habits. Yes, I have this secret desire to homestead one day and make everything from scratch, but our season of life right now does not coincide with that (and let's be honest, it never will, which is probably okay). Anyways, I have tried to provide "real food" meals on our table so that we all feel better, are eating healthier, and hopefully in the end, keep us all in good health.



Lisa came out with a NEW cookbook called 100 Days of Real Food: Fast and Fabulous. Oh did my heart take a leap because as much as I loved her first cookbook, anything with the words "fast and fabulous," I am sold!

And let me tell you, it is now my most favorite cookbook I own - and I have gone through many a cookbooks in my lifetime!

So what sets this cookbook apart from the tens of thousands of others?

It's About REAL LIFE

Not only is 100 Days of Real Food: Fast and Fabulous about food and easy recipes, but it is about REAL LIFE. Lisa starts the book off by sharing what led to her desire to eat "real food". After reading her story, I couldn't help but find myself relating to her story. I too, had that moment of "oh my goodness, what am I feeding my family?" Call it fad or a phase, but I would say our culture is on an organic and clean-eating kick. As much as this book may sound like it's only about that, it isn't.

This book helps you take a look at your own life and help you incorporate simple and easy meals into your meal planning, all while cooking with REAL FOOD. It melds together REAL FOOD with REAL LIFE. The majority of people do not have time to cook gourmet meals at every meal. This book isn't about that. But these recipes do NOT skimp on taste or quality. They are recipes made with everyday food for the everyday person.

What's In It For Me?

I wasn't quite sure what to expect with a "second" cookbook, but I have to say, it far exceeded my expectations! The first chapter right away sold me. It starts off by including LISTS for all the food categories in the food pyramid (and more) of what to look for and what not to look for. It has lists of what cereals are the healthiest and what are the least. It has meal plan lists for each season. It has a cookbook recipe chart by dietary needs. It even has a list of guidelines for produce food storage. I'm telling you, Betty Crocker would be pleased!

I Can Still Eat Food!
Many "real food" recipes cut out many of the food categories that I personally enjoy and have no reason cut from my diet, such as gluten or dairy. Like I mentioned, the cookbook does include a guide as to what recipes are gluten free, dairy free, nut free, vegetarian, and even freeze-friendly. The recipes have a wide range of ingredients, for any diet, which makes this cookbook that much more versatile.

Lisa's motto to live by is to look for food items with 5 or less ingredients. It may sound like a daunting task, to stand there in the grocery aisle, staring at every food label, wondering if it is "approved". Well, the cookbook also has a list of stores with what staples to look for at those stores. For instance, Walmart, Aldi, Target, Trader Joe's, and Publix, are some of the stores that she listed 10 things to look for at those stores. For instance like what flour, rice, nuts, peanut butter, pasta, etc. to buy. The things that we can easily buy "highly-processed", where this list gives an alternative.

No matter where you turn, whether it be Pinterest, food magazines, the news, the internet, there are  articles and buzzwords floating around about what to avoid and what's "really in" processed foods. How do you make sense of it all? Well, this cookbook breaks it all down. For example, it talks about "the truth about baby carrots", multi-grain vs. whole-grain, what low-fat means, sugar-free, and even what to do with gluten-free food (and MUCH more). So if you are wondering about all of those buzzwords, you will find your answers in this cookbook.

Many "healthy" recipes often have a list of ingredients that I have never heard of. At that, ingredients that I quite frankly can't afford. After looking through the recipes, they include ingredients I have actually heard of! Every ingredient in the cookbook, I knew where to find it in the store or have bought it in the past. An incredible amount of healthy-eating recipes call for ingredients that only a gourmet chef would use and let's be honest, the majority of us are not. Here are a few examples of recipes included in the book:

Asian Rice Noodle Salad

The best thing about this salad is how it comes together in no time at all. Asian rice noodles generally cook more quickly than wheat noodles and with the addition of the precut coleslaw mix the prep time is very minimal. I recommend serving it with Coconut Shrimp (page 176)—what a yummy way to switch things up!

Difficulty: Easy
Prep time: 10 to 15 minutes
Cook time: Less than 5 minutes
(depending on the rice noodle brand)
Makes 5 or 6 side servings


  • One 8-ounce box Asian brown rice (whole-grain) noodles
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce (preferably reduced-sodium)
  • 1 tablespoon rice vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons fresh lime juice (from 1/2 lime)
  • 2 teaspoons honey
  • 2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil
  • 1 teaspoon minced fresh ginger
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 3/4 cup fresh cilantro leaves, chopped
  • 3/4 cup chopped salted, dry-roasted peanuts or cashews
  • 2 ½ cups coleslaw mix (shredded green and red cabbage plus carrots, found in the produce aisle)
  • Red pepper flakes (optional)

1. Cook the noodles according to the package directions. Drain and set aside in a large bowl to cool (a few minutes in the freezer can help!). Cut the noodles up a bit with kitchen shears or a knife to make them easier to toss.

2. In a small bowl, whisk together the soy sauce, vinegar, lime juice, honey, sesame oil, ginger, and garlic.

3. Add the sauce, cilantro, peanuts, and slaw mix to the bowl with the noodles and toss until well combined. If desired, sprinkle in red pepper flakes to taste. Serve at room temperature or refrigerate for later.

White Chicken Chili

Whether you call this dish a chili or hearty chicken and bean stew, it’s definitely a winner. The first time I made it for my kids, they asked me so many times what it was called, but by the end of the meal they cared much more about getting second helpings than remembering the name! If you have time be sure to double the recipe and store in the fridge or freezer, because, like most soups and stews, the leftovers are amazing.

Difficulty: Easy
Prep time: 10 to 15 minutes
Cook time: Less than 30 minutes
Makes 4 servings


·         1 tablespoon olive oil
·         1/2 onion, diced
·         1/2 jalapeño, minced
·         1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1-inch pieces
·         1 garlic clove, minced
·         1 teaspoon chili powder
·         1 teaspoon ground cumin
·         11/4 teaspoons salt
·         1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
·         1/2 cup frozen corn kernels (no need to thaw)
·         Two 15-ounce cans white beans (such as Great Northern or cannellini), drained and rinsed
·         1 3/4 cups chicken broth, store bought or homemade (page 103)
·         1/4 cup heavy cream

TOPPINGS: Chopped cilantro, sour cream, grated Monterey Jack cheese, diced avocado, and/or corn tortilla strips

1. In a medium soup pot, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion and jalapeño and cook, stirring, until the onion has softened, 2 to 3 minutes.

2. Add the chicken and cook, stirring occasionally, until it is lightly browned on the outside and no longer pink on the inside (add more olive oil if the pot starts to dry out), 4 to 5 minutes.

3. Toss the minced garlic and spices into the pot and turn a few times to coat the chicken evenly. Add the corn, beans, and chicken broth and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer, about 20 minutes.

4. Break up some of the beans with the back of a wooden spoon to help thicken the chili. Stir in the cream, garnish with the desired toppings, and serve!
LISA’S TIP: This dish is also great with leftover cooked chicken. Just skip step 2 and add the cooked chicken with the garlic and spices in step 3.

Those two recipes are just a sampling of the goodness found in this cookbook!

You can PRE-ORDER it now (to get the best deal). It releases on Tuesday, October 25, 2016!!

To eat healthy and cheap is not easy. Let me tell you though, the 100 Days of Real Food: Fast and Fabulous makes it easy. This cookbook will not disappoint! I had the privilege of getting a preview of it and I have to admit, I have not been able to put it down. Everyday I look at it, I glean some new knowledge or new ideas on how to improve my cooking and improve the health of the meals I make.

Friday, October 21, 2016

Just A Little Reminder!

Just a friendly reminder...

If you haven't had the chance to fill out my blogging survey, would you mind taking a few minutes to do so? The responses thus far have been EXTREMELY helpful and have given me some guidance on what the majority of my readers like to read about.

So if you don't mind, please head on over to this Google Form and let me know what you think about this blog:

Also, you can remain anonymous if you choose to do so!


Thursday, October 20, 2016

I'd Love To Hear Your Thoughts!

As I was reflecting on this blog the past few weeks, I realized how much this blog has meant to me. I started to blog because I wanted to share with family and friends, in a unique way, what was going on in our life. At the time, we lived just far enough away from my family that we couldn't just hop over to their places at any given time. I thought that keeping a blog/log of our life would help keep people informed about our life - which really, isn't that interesting!

Little did we realize that the blog would help us get through some of the most joyous, but also the most grievous times in our life. Being able to share our journey through losing two little babies at just 3 weeks in our gestational carrier's womb, but also to share the utter miracle of the birth of our daughter Mazy Grace in 2015. It was this blog that helped me work through some of the emotions and even introduced me to some of the most amazing people I have "met" via this blog.

Then of course there was the organizing blog that I started and decided to combine into this blog, after a move to Minnesota from Michigan. That website kept me busy while trying to figure out and navigate life in a new town and a new state.

All that to say, I have LOVED blogging. It is something that I find I can share my heart in and just what our life is about. In doing so, I know that I obviously share about things that people could quite frankly care less about. In blogging, you by default open yourself up to the opportunity for people to criticize and judge, but also relate to as well.

I decided that I want to get YOUR OPINION about this blog. I want to hear what YOU enjoy reading the most? What YOU look forward to the most. I would love to hear what you have to say!


If you could take just 3 minutes of your time and fill out this BLOG SURVEY, I would GREATLY appreciate it! I can't guarantee that I will make all of the requested changes, but I want to connect with my readers as much as I can.

Please head on over to this simple Google Form and let me know what you think!
(You can choose to stay anonymous if you would like)

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Oh The Beauty Of A Good Night's Sleep

Oh the beauty of a good night's sleep.

I remember lying in bed the night before Mazy was to be born (I was scheduled to be induced). I remember thinking "this" was the last night of sleep I would get before she was in our arms. A moment I will always remember, but a moment I never want back. - because having her here has been one of the biggest blessings we have ever received. 

Even in those sleep-less (never went a night with completely NO sleep) nights, I wouldn't trade it for an empty nursery. I wouldn't trade it for the world. I remember having to pack up the few things we had received for our twins in a box and having to put it away, along with our dream of being parents. 

And then God blessed us with Mazy Grace.

You've heard me talk in the past about my "plan" to have Mazy be a good sleeper. I read Baby Wise, had my plan of sleeping, feeding, awake times all planned out.  And then she had acid reflux and slept in her bouncy seat the first 6-7 months of her life. Dan finally told me to stop reading the books and just accept the situation we were in. Plus, the extra stress about what "wasn't" happening, wasn't helping my failing heart either.

By month 6, we sleep trained her and we thought we were on our way. Then we traveled and it seemed to go downhill ever since then. Between colds and ear infections, the winter was a bit rough (though we would have moments of "sleep training" her, but it never stuck). 

By the time she was 1, we were becoming a bit desperate, wondering what we were doing wrong? Thus began a long journey of ear infections for the next 3 months - an infection that never really went away until she got tubes at the end of May, when she was 14 months. Everyone told me that she was going to be a different kid and start sleeping through the night. Well, things only ended up getting worse. She ended up with pneumonia and that took a few weeks for her to completely get over. Then we had about a week break and then she came down with a nasty virus that landed her in the hospital for just a night, but nevertheless, took a little while to get over. Then Dan was gone for a few weeks to Haiti and she ended up with some anxiety issues from the hospital and Dan being gone, which led to her pulling her hair out. 

All that to say, we could not try and sleep train that poor girl because she had enough going on in her life. During this time, she was also working on her canines and 1st year molars, which didn't help, and we now think she has allergies (but who doesn't get a runny nose during harvest, right?)

So that brings us to October and Mazy is now 1 1/2 years old.

After her teeth came through, her allergies subsided, and she no longer pulled out her hair, we decided that maybe it was time to try and sleep train her again. We felt there were no excuses and no reason why she couldn't.

So we gave it a whirl. The first night of course was rough, with over 1 hour of crying with me going in there every 10-15 minutes telling her she is okay, mommy loves her, and that it's time to sleep. She woke up a few more times, but eventually was sound asleep.

Night 2: Woke up just a few times, but I went in there, told her it's okay, and she would look at me, put her wubs in her mouth, sigh, and close her eyes. 

Night 3: Even better. Only 1 or 2 wakeups and she put herself back to sleep.

And since then, it has only improved. No, she doesn't have completely sleep-through-the-night, nights yet, but we are getting there. We KNOW she can put herself back to sleep. We KNOW what the "pain" cry and the "I don't want to sleep" cry is. We KNOW when she is panicked and may have woken up from a bad dream or is worried. 

We KNOW. And I'm telling you, knowing is half the battle!

She will digress I am sure when cold and ear infection season starts, but Mazy sleeps so much MORE now. Who would have thought the more she sleeps, the longer she sleeps? We put her down between 8:15 and 8:30 (we still give her melatonin at night), and she often doesn't wake up for the day until 8:30 or 9am. And she has even been known to sleep til 10 or 10:30 (on rare occasions). She takes 1 1/2 - 2 1/2 hour naps. And for the longest time, she was a HORRIBLE napper! 

This is where months and months of prayers have brought us. Every night, Dan and I pray before we go to sleep and every prayer always included a request for Mazy to sleep well. We NEVER imagined that it would take 18-19 months for her to get the hang of sleep, but looking back, those times have been precious.

Let me say this though: Like I tell other mommys who have kids who struggle to sleep, LACK OF SLEEP IS NO JOKE. I know we are to be thankful in every circumstance and truthfully, I think we can be honest about the difficulties in life and still be thankful. God created our bodies to need sleep and when they do not receive that sleep, it messes EVERYTHING up (I'm telling you, everything). We can be thankful for our little ones, our lives, and those quiet nights rocking our children, but our bodies still need sleep. Our children need our bodies to have sleep too. We are better parents, better wives, better everything when we are well rested.

So if you are a mama out there whose child is not sleeping well, you are NOT alone. So many people told me that it's a season of life and I know it is, but the problem is that you don't know when that season is going to end. There seems to be no end in sight and you wonder how you can keep mustering up the courage to face another sleep-less night. 

Those moments will bring you to a whole new perspective of God's grace. I remember trying to do my devotions in the morning and wondering how am I going to make it through the day with only a few hours of sleep? Mazy wasn't a good napper, so I couldn't take a nap when she did. But let me tell you, HIS MERCIES ARE NEW EVERY MORNING! And that's the perspective we have to keep.

Every morning, despite how little or how much sleep we get, His mercies really are new. It's another day that God shows His grace to us. It's another day to live out the role of being mama. And it's another day our child needs our love. 

I have learned (and like my doctor told me numerous times), some kids are good sleepers and some just aren't. Some are light sleepers and some aren't. Mazy, since the day she was born, could never sleep with noise that happens suddenly. And trust me, she was at countless basketball games in womb with buzzers and screaming all around. Any little noise startles her. We have tried to have her sleep in public places and it has NEVER worked. She's a light sleeper (just like her mama). We have a fan going and any "other" noise she wakes up - silly girl!

Mazy still wakes up occasionally and I can't really sleep until she falls back asleep, but I know that she's okay. The bond that was created the first 1 1/2 years of her life because of her lack of sleep, is something no one can ever take away from us. She knows I love her and that's why every morning when I get her (minus two days when my husband stays home with her), I pick her up out of her crib and she gives me the biggest smile and hug, telling me all about her night and reminding me of the decor in her room and what it says.

Moments that are priceless. 

Whether you have a child who has slept through the night since week 2 (consider yourself one of the few) or still have yet to have your child sleep through the night, just remember that YOU are the perfect mama for your child.  YOU are what your child needs. Though I must insert here that we have a babysitter who we call the baby-whisperer because she seemed to get Mazy to sleep through the night every night she put her down. She is a true gift! Regardless, everything in life is a season and a chapter. One day this chapter and season will come to a close and I know I will look back on it with fond memories. The lack of sleep, okay, maybe not fond, but I do not want to regret how I handled the situation. I want to look back at this time as a time that my faith grew, after months and months of prayers. It took 8 years of praying for a child and now she is here and... 

THIS IS THE CHILD WE HAVE PRAYED FOR and I wouldn't trade any of those moments for ANYTHING.

The joy, smiles, and love Mazy brings to our life, words can't explain.

Oh what a good night of sleep will do - your day is coming. Not every night is sleeping bliss, but we are moving forward.

What is your sleep-less story? Do your children sleep well? When did they start to figure out sleep is a thing of beauty?

P.S. In the picture, clearly Mazy is pretty active at night - her pants are halfway down, her legs tugged underneath, and she is out. Needless to say, it took some work to wake her up from this deep sleep!

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Around The Home

I am realizing that our weeks tend to look the same, so there are "repetitive events" but there is always a cute picture to be taken (if I think of it). Though it was a bit chilly at times this week, it warmed up to be spring-like weather again! Except of course there were leaves on the ground. 

Mazy has been sleeping AMAZING this past week, which has been such a relief! It's been 18 months in the making! In fact, one night she slept until 10:20! Who is this kid, right? More on that later...

Spending as much time as we can outside before it gets in the negative temps.

Mazy asks to take a bath about 5 times a day (no exaggeration). If she didn't have such dry skin I would consider, but one time a day is enough. The bubbles are her favorite part.

Dan had just a few docks to do on Saturday, so we "hired" Mazy to come with us! Mazy got her cute rain boots because we knew she would want to go in the water. Of course they eventually came off and she was in there barefoot and the water was COLD! Didn't phase our water-loving girl!

Dan was one proud daddy to have his daughter join him!

The kids taking out a lift and dock

Like I said, the boots came off...

Forgive the bug splatter in the picture, but I had to capture what is going on all over the countryside in Minnesota! Harvest! Makes me miss watching my dad and uncle take in the harvest on the family farm, but this definitely helps!

More smoothies! Now my goal is to incorporate some veggies in it (without her noticing) because she struggles to eat veggies!

I think we say everyday "oh we just love this girl"... "oh we just love this age"... "oh we just can't get enough of Mazy"...