Monday, April 28, 2014

When You Forget the World is Hurting

I think we're all pretty good at hiding the intimate details of our lives. I'm not talking about the small stuff here either, I'm talking about the dig-down-deep things that really get to us. Things that already hurt so much that we don't want to share them because less understanding equals more hurt. I get it but I don't want to forget it.

It's easy to get wrapped up in our own lives and forget about the hurting world around us. But the truth is, the best day of your life could be the worst day of someone else's.

A lot of my friends openly share some of their struggles. Others keep them hidden to the point that I can't even begin to imagine what they're going through on the inside. I wish we could all just break down the barriers that we build in life and realize that the more we share, the more we learn, and the more support we can find in the right people.

You, I, she...we're not the only ones who have gone through this, or are going through this. Encouragement is best found in those that truly understand, that have walked in your shoes. But how do you find those people if you are not even willing to admit that you hurt too? Or if you're unwilling to take a moment to really listen and make a promise, to them and to yourself, that you're really going to care?

It's a huge commitment; I get that too.

Sometimes life seems too busy, that your own hurt seems too big, that taking even a moment to carry someone else for awhile seems like too much...

do it, though, do it, and you'll find that it's so worth it.

When you take the time to carry someone else on their worst day, you'll find that on your worst day, they will be there to help you get through too.

The best part? Helping doesn't have to be hard. Sometimes something as simple as a whispered prayer, an encouraging card or word, or just ten minutes of your dedicated time, can be the difference between pushing through or breaking down.

I know because I have been there and I have a feeling you've been there too...

So take a moment, even on your best of days, to remember that every single person that you meet is struggling in their own way. They hurt and they need, just like you. Don't forget it and suddenly every person you meet will become more real.

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Thursday, April 24, 2014

A Day in my Life [April]

Spring is finally here and we have taken full advantage and spent every minute outdoors that is possible.

But the saying rings true: April showers bring May flowers.

And so we've had a lot of indoor play too which often ends in a meltdown because we just can't go outside.

Henry's newest obsession is playdoh and I have to say, I don't remember it being such a mess. It can get EVERYWHERE...and I mean everywhere.

Of course, Henry's favorite thing will always be pretending to be a dog. And cars. Well...anything with wheels really.

My boy is so fearful and wild some days, climbing to the tops of everything, jumping off couches, and running circles around his Mama.

But other days he's nothing but sweet and kind and loving, giving big, tight hugs and kisses.

I love both his sweet innocence and kind heart and wild side all the same. It is equal parts that make him Henry, and also make him boy. My boy.

There's also this, this photo which Mama has not seen yet and has no idea how much she is going to love. I know she thought I was bonkers when I said, 'trust me, you're going to cherish this simple shot years from now' and I hope to continue getting it every single time I take their photos. But she will, because I mean...just look. Look at that precious face - the same and yet changed, and Mama's's priceless. This is why I love photography.

Oh yeah...and there's me. Still working on becoming the best I can be. Down 35 pounds, feeling wonderful about how far I've come and yet, a little discouraged about how far I've yet to go. But I'll get there...just keep on believing in me.

Now follow along by hopping over to Sara's page to see how she documented a day in her life!

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Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Provide a Way

Because Lauren is so right, and you need to take the time to write even when you don't feel like you have the time or anything to say, I'm writing today.

We went to church Sunday morning. We got up, I put on one of my favorite dresses and Jeremy put on one of his favorite polo shirts, we let Henry sleep in a bit late and woke him up just in time to throw on his Easter best and then out the door we went.

I had to request the day off and use vacation time just so I knew I could go...

We picked up Jeremy's parents and then met his sister and her two kids in the parking lot. The service was held at the school because the service is really that big on Easter. That's amazing to me...and it made my heart and soul smile.

I should say: I'm still not sure about this church. I really haven't been able to research enough to find fundamental beliefs, and the nitty-gritty of whether or not it's a fit for us. But every time I go, my soul feels filled and that may just be the most important part.

I miss church like...well...I don't know what it's like. It's like forever losing a soul-mate, or misplacing your wedding rings, or having a friend move across country who you spent every moment with. It's kind of like that. Like...part of you is missing.

I truly believe that you can worship God anywhere. And that a belief can be strengthened simply by reading deep into His Word, prayer, and living by faith. But...there is something about gathering together with others to worship that fills your heart with strength and your soul with peace.

I miss that so very, very much.

As I stood in the foyer Sunday (I had to take Henry out), listening to the final bit of the message and the alter call, my prayer was simple and perhaps one of the most heart-felt I'd ever prayed:

Lord, please provide a way.

And as I write those words, it brings tears to my eyes because I want this so bad. I want to be back in fellowship with people who get it. They get our lifestyle, they get the ins and outs of living for Him because of Him, they get the need for church.

I know He will provide a way...and perhaps this season of life where 95% of my Sundays are spent at work is here just to remind me of why I need church and why I love church, and what it feels like to miss it.

'1 Corinthians 10:31 - So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.'
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Sunday, April 20, 2014

Happy Easter!

I hope you all have a beautifully blessed Easter from our home to yours!

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Friday, April 18, 2014

Create Themes

Hey Mamas, could you do me a big favor and answer these two questions for me?


If you were to take your child to one themed mini-session for portraits, what would that theme be? 


If you could create your own unique theme, no matter how crazy, extreme, or suited to your individual style it may be, what theme would you create?

I thank you in advance.

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Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Henry's Easter Basket

Henry's Easter basket has a huge theme this year: BEACH.

We will be on the beach in less than 3 weeks and Henry needed some beach toys to play in the sand so I figured, why not turn an Easter basket into a beachy Easter bucket!

So what's inside?

This was his favorite shirt last year so when I found a larger size on clearance, I snatched it as quickly as I could. It will be PERFECT for our trip to Disney.
What little boy doesn't NEED socks with Planes on them? Plus, they were a dollar...

We're going to be digging and raking fools.

Let's build a Sandcastle!

I had to add a card for us to write a little message in.

 That's one spoiled little boy if I do say so myself! Throw in a couple of eggs with some candy and this basket bucket is ready!

And because I'm the best aunt ever - I put my niece and nephew little goodie bags together too - complete with that 'prized' money-egg!

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Monday, April 14, 2014

BIG plans

Guys, I have big plans for 2015. Plans that I have been dreaming about for several years now. Plans that I know can take shape if I work extremely, extremely hard at it. Plans that are both extremely exciting and terrifying.

Soo...over the course of the next year, I'm going to be asking a lot of you for some input and ideas so that when I decide to launch this BIG plan, I have a solid structure and idea about some important details.

Can you do that for me?

Great! I knew I could count on you!

Right now, I'd really ask for you to pray as I begin planning and creating a structure and putting all my eggs into this tiny basket while hoping that they hatch into something miraculous.

I'd really appreciate it.

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Friday, April 11, 2014

Easy Italian Veggies & Chicken

The nights that I have to work during the week I typically have to work late and don't get home until after 9:30. Jeremy and I have always, always, had the traditions of eating dinner together so many nights he will wait until I get home to eat. It's not our ideal time to eat dinner, but it's more important for us to eat together as a couple than to eat separately. It's our time and that's important to us.

Many nights I will try to have something prepared before I go to work, whether that be something easy that doesn't need to be cooked or something thrown into the crock-pot that essentially cooks itself. With the warmer weather, the crock-pot has been less than appealing so I've been trying to come up with recipes that can easily be put together and then cooked later so all Jeremy has to do is throw them in a skillet or the oven.

One of our most recent favorites has been Italian Veggies and Chicken. It's quick, it's easy, and it's delicious. I don't recall ever seeing a recipe for this, Italian chicken is something we've loved for years in our house. I'm pretty sure I just decided one day to throw it in the oven with some veggies and see how it turned out.

Need It

4 medium red potatoes
2 cups of frozen french style green beans
3 chicken tenders (or your choice of chicken)
1/2 cup of Italian dressing
1 zip-lock bag
1-2 tablespoons minced garlic
glass baking dish

Make It

1) Marinated your chicken in the Italian dressing for as long as possible, preferably overnight. I just put my chicken in a plastic baggy and pour the dressing in the bag as well then put it in the refrigerator. Typically ours only marinates for 5-6 hours but it still gives the chicken a wonderful taste and helps to keep it tender.

2) Dice your potatoes into (somewhat) even pieces and put them into the bottom of the glass baking dish.

3) Rinse your green beans so that they are no longer completely frozen (you could use canned too but I prefer to stay away from canned veggies) and rinse well. Layer them on top of your potatoes and sprinkle your minces garlic on top of that.

4) Cover your dish with aluminum foil and put it in the refridgerator until you're ready to bake. When it comes time, preheat your oven to 350 degrees and pour your chicken (italian dressing and all) right on top of the veggies. Recover with the aluminum foil and bake for about an hour or until your potatoes are tender.

I love this meal simply because it takes me no time to prepare it and my husband can easily just throw it in the over an hour before I get home and forget it. There's no stirring, no checking, just cute, combine, and bake. 

Serves 3 at 350 calories per serving.

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Thursday, April 10, 2014

100 Days

Did you guys know that we're 100 days into the year?

Crazy, right!

I can't believe that so much time has passed already although I am TOTALLY okay with the fact that winter has finally gone from our sleepy village in Ohio, I don't want the time to pass too quickly. We celebrated today by planting a few pansies, the one flower that will probably survive if we have a few cold days with frost.

We've stayed busy the last few weeks enjoying our warmer weather. This week it's going to be in the 70's most days and Henry and I plan on soaking up every last bit of warmth that we can find. I can't wait until mid-May when I can get up every morning, put on my pot of coffee, get dressed, and then wander out to my garden. My mornings were always so lovely last year when I spent an hour out weeding, pruning, and nourishing our veggies-to-be.

I always swore I had a black thumb but as I look around our house and see all the plants I've collected from the clearance rack at work, I can see that over the years the black has faded and the green has slowly taken over. I love gardening; there is such peacefulness about it and it's so rewarding to eat the things that you grow and know that you've become a little more self-reliant.

There has been a sense of uneasiness and unrest in our house as vacation creeps closer and the chill still hangs in the air although the temperature rises. We are ready for spring and summer and sunshine and warmth.

It's almost here and I can not wait.

Have a beautiful (and hopefully warm) Thursday.

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Friday, April 04, 2014

This is Your Casting Call

I'm in the process of creating something new, something that has been on my heart for quite some time now, and something that I truly believe can benefit all women, no matter where they are in their walks of life.

I'm calling it Our Real Life.

If you've got everything all put together all of the time, never need a moment to breathe deep and remind yourself that it's worth it, or never feel less than perfect...

God bless you, this is not for you.

But if you're like me and a lot of days are full of stealing moments just to go to the bathroom, or trying to play catch up with the laundry, dishes and dirty rooms, or if you take your kids to the park and feel less-than-secure because all the moms there are in the same group and wear the same North Face jacket and their kids never, ever, ever seem to throw a fit when it's time to leave...

then come on in, join me, because you are exactly what I'm looking for.

Even if you are just single and looking (or not) and feel like you're the only one in this life that doesn't seem to have that perfect rhythm and plan, or you just don't feel like you fit in, or there are times you wonder if you were born in some foreign generation because, heaven-help-you, you just don't get what's going on these days...

this if for you too.

It's time to take off the masks and let the light shine on those dust bunnies beneath our beds, the dirty dishes in the sink, the messy buns at 11:00 a.m. when the UPS man knocks on the door and you are just happy that you're wearing a bra and your son has pants on. 

It's time to join together and get real about our less-than-perfect lives.

With honestly comes real support, real understanding, and removes the facade that we have it all put together. It allows us to be real with ourselves and each other and takes away the pressure to always appear a different way.

So consider this your casting call. I'm looking for ladies to join me, to be honest and raw and real - with me, with yourself, and with the world. No masks, no pretending, no need to appear a certain way or to have it all together.

More details to come...but for now, I simply want an email saying 'I'm think I'd like to be in, I want do this.'

I can't wait to go on this journey of inspiration and support with all of you.

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Leave your email address and I will get details to you soon, very soon - or just shoot me an email:

Thursday, April 03, 2014

Healthier Mac & Cheese

We all know that sticking to a diet or eating clean all the time can be hard at times. Occasionally we crave some of our favorite foods and indulge and that's totally okay. I've come to realize that if I have a craving bad enough, it's probably best to give in instead of holding out until I am so hungry for something that I binge eat. I've also found that there are typically ways to jazz up my old favorites so that they are much, much healthier than the original.
Yesterday was cold and rainy and I just really, really wanted some mac and cheese. Not the crap out of the box, but good old fashioned, creamy, homemade mac and cheese. I knew I had to have it or I was going to go insane wanting it for the next week.
I scoured the internet and came across this recipe and modified it a bit to make it my own and slightly healthier. I knew you guys would want to try it too so I thought I'd share the recipe!
Photo Credit

1 chicken breast cubed
1 package Garden Delight Veggie Pasta (or any veggie pasta)
1 cup broccoli
1 cup sliced carrots
1/4 cup sun-dried tomatoes (my husband thought this was the best part)
6 ounces sharp cheddar cheese
3 tbsp whole wheat flour
1 1/2 cups skim milk
1/4 cup olive oil
1 tbsp minced garlic (or more!)
1) Boil your pasta according to the package.
2) While your pasta is boiling, throw all of your veggies and chicken in a skillet (whether fresh or frozen) and cook them until they are soft and cooked through.
3) Once your veggies, chicken and pasta are cooked, drain them and mix them into a casserole dish. Heat your oven to 450 degrees.
4) Heat the olive oil and garlic in a skillet on medium heat. Mix in your flour and cook for about a minute until completely dissolved. It should be somewhat thick. Slowly mix in your milk, stirring constantly. Cook until a thick sauce forms - this should only take a few minutes. You should have no lumps. Remove from the heat and mix in most of your cheese until it melts, saving a bit if you wish for topping.
5) Mix your sauce in with your veggies and pasta, top with an optional bit of cheese, crackers, or panko - whatever floats your boat. Throw in the oven until the top browns (about five minutes), pull out, let set for a few minutes and then serve hot and gooey and delicious!
We all LOVED this dish. It was super easy to make and was a complete meal in one. It was SO filling too! This will go into the occasional 'must-have' list that I keep tucked away for days when I know I have to have some good old comfort food.
Nutritional Value Per Serving (Serves 6): 465 calories, 48 carbs, 20 fat, 25 protein, 262 sodium. 4 sugar

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Wednesday, April 02, 2014

I'm an Idiot...

No, seriously.

Ever since I switched my blogger profile to Goggle+ I haven't been able to figure out why I'm a no-reply blogger. I quit getting all the lovely emails that notified me of replies to comments I've left and I had tried settings after settings to get things right again and it never worked.

I had nearly given up.

Then today I finally figured out that I'm not a no-reply blogger, I'm just an idiot.

All of my emails have been going to an email that I honest-to-God had no idea that I had.

And the mystery was solved.

So...I'll be able to see your replies now. And I'm so happy about it because I've seriously missed them.

Let's hope I get this brain thing under control again because I swear it's been off in lala-land lately!

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April Fitness Goals

Last month I set a few goals for myself and since the month came and flew by, I've got a fresh month with new goals in mind. But first, let's see how I did with my previous goals.

1) Start running - Check! I averaged about 3 runs a week and it wasn't easy, but I did it.

2) Work-out 5 days a week - I totally failed at this. In all honestly, the entire month of march was (almost) a huge failure for me and other than running, I rarely worked out at all.

3) Eat clean - Done and done. We had pizza once or twice and dinner with the in-laws once that was less than clean, but overall, this month was a huge success when it comes to what foods I was putting into my body.

4) Lose 5 pounds and 2 inches - Did you read my update yesterday? Crushed this!

5) Fit into one piece of clothing hanging in my closet that was a bit too small - Two pieces came out of my 'too tight' pile this month and is currently hanging in my closet for daily wear.

Overall I think I did fairly well for March, but I know I can do better. Today is the 2nd day of April and I have an entire month to focus on my health and becoming a better me. Time for some new goals!!

1) Make a schedule and stick to it. Ideally I would like to run three times a week and do strength training the other two days a week. I'd also really like to get in a 3 mile walk/run before this month is over. In order to keep up on my strength training, I've found these several challenges that I think I'm going to do.

2) Quit skipping breakfast. This was a big issue for me in March. I am always so busy in the mornings that it is so easy for me to focus on everything else and never eat. I have noticed that this actually slows my own progress down so there is no excuse for me not to take a few minutes, make a smoothie or cook an egg, and eat.

3) Drink more water. The dog chewed up my water-bottle about mid-way through March and ever since I've had an issue keeping up on my water intake. My goal is between 80-120 ounces of water a day and before I was killing that. Now I'm struggling to get 60-80 ounces in a day. I bought a new bottle but it's just not doing it for me so I'm going to have to come up with a new way to get my water in.

4) Exceed my weigh-smart challenge goal for work. I am three pounds away from meeting my goal for work. THREE POUNDS. I know I can do that by the 27th and I'd really like to exceed it. I really hope that when I hit that 100% mark, it will inspire my co-workers to know that they can do anything they set their minds to.

5) Changes: I'm going to set a huge goal of 8 pounds this month, simply because if I lose those 8 pounds, I will hit a huge milestone of losing 40 pounds this year alone and that would be a huge accomplishment right before vacation.

Are you setting any goals for the month of April? If so, let me know so I can encourage you along your journey!

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