2/29/2016

Awesome Enchiladas

We started making these enchiladas years ago.

With my Gestational Diabetes diagnosis, we've revisited some of our favorite recipes, and made a few adjustments to help keep my blood sugar levels in line.

And hello?

I cannot even tell you how thrilled I am to find out these worked with my diet!

I even "splurged" and had five chips with heaps of homemade guacamole.
Awesome Enchiladas Recipe
2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breast, cooked and shredded
1 (10 oz) can cream of chicken soup
1 1/4 cups sour cream
1/4 tsp chili powder
1 Tbsp butter
1 small onion, diced
1 (4 oz) can chopped green chilies, drained
1 (1.25 oz) package taco seasoning
1 bunch green onions, chopped
1 cup water
1 teaspoon lime juice
1/2 tsp onion powder
1/2 tsp garlic powder
10 whole wheat tortillas
3 cups Cheddar cheese, shredded
1 (10 ounce) can red enchilada sauce

Cook chicken in crock pot and shred. Set aside.

Combine cream of chicken soup, sour cream and chili powder in saucepan. Bring to a simmer over low heat, stirring occasionally. Keep warm.

Meanwhile, heat butter in skillet over medium heat and saute diced onion. Add the shredded chicken, chopped (and drained) green chilis, taco seasoning, half the bunch of chopped green onion and water. Stir in lime juice, onion powder and garlic powder. Simmer for 10-15 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Stir in 1 cup of the soup mixture into the chicken mixture. Spread the remaining soup mixture on the bottom of a 9x13 pan.

Fill each tortilla with chicken mixture; add cheddar cheese over the filling before folding the tortillas, saving 1.5 cups of cheddar cheese for topping the enchiladas.

Place tortillas seam-side down over the soup mixture.

Pour enchilada sauce over enchiladas. Cover with remaining 1.5 cups shredded cheddar cheese. Sprinkle the remaining green onion over top.

Bake until filling is heated through and cheese is melted and bubbling (approximately 25-minutes).

Recipe adapted from Angela's Awesome Enchiladas.

Related content:
How to Survive Gestational Diabetes
Other Recipes

2/22/2016

What Busy Moms Love: Creative Toys With a Purpose

Follow my blog with Bloglovin With a third lil' gal joining our tribe in a few weeks and my energy level diminishing daily, I find myself depending on our stash of fun toys to keep my daughters entertained.

Because let's face it, this momma is lugging around 25-extra pounds in our 3-story town home, and my hiding places in games of "Hide-and-Seek" are becoming quite limited! ;)

My favorite -- absolute favorite -- line of toys is B Toys.

Not only are they unique, they're toys with a purpose.

A portion of each toy purchased goes toward Free The Children, an organization with a mission to free children from cycles of poverty and exploitation.

Here are a few of our favorite B Toys 'round here:
H2-Whoa B Toys
This two-sided doodle board -- H2-Whoa! -- is one of the coolest things EVER.

Our girls love it (and so do we)!

Why?

Because they can draw whatever they want wherever they want and the hubbs and I have peace-of-mind knowing the walls and furniture aren't getting destroyed.

The doodle pens are filled with WATER!

No paint. No mess. Just water!
H2-Whoa B Toys
The pictures appear from the felt-tip pens and slowly fade as the board dries.

And the best part? 

It's completely 100% mess-free!

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Our 2-year old's go-to toy is this gem: Take It Easel.
Take It Easel - B Toys
This collapsible tabletop easel is perfect for our budding artist [the next Picasso, people!] because it not only holds all sorts of art supplies for the whiteboard and chalkboard, but we can throw in her coloring books and sticker sheets, too!
Take It Easel - B Toys
Plus, it's great for our home because we simply don't have a lot of room for a large standing easel.

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And our youngest loves "walking" this lil' guy around the house.
Happy Go Piggy - B Toys
The Happy Go Piggy could be the most well-behaved pet pig out there ;)

Kendra loves taking him for spins on the hardwoods, and occasionally her big sis will jump in to chase them -- that's when the giggling commences!

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The best part (in my opinion, of course): These toys encourage creativity and imagination.

They prove no batteries or loud, obnoxious noises are required for hours of entertainment!

And they allow us to simply have fun together as we ride through the homestretch before we welcome another baby into the family!

Check out MyBToys.com on Instagram or YouTube to learn more about why busy moms [like me!] love B Toys.

Sponsored post: I received the above products for free, but opinions, as always, are my own.

2/17/2016

To The Woman Who Needs My Hair

A couple of weeks ago, I sat nervously in the salon and watched my stylist chop off a whopping 10-inches of my hair.
Why I Donated My Hair: Pantene Beautiful Lengths
Three snips and it was gone.
Donating Hair Pantene Beautiful Lengths
Nothin' like holding your head of hair in your hands, lemme tell ya!

Donating my hair has always been on my bucket-list, but it became an actual possibility when I left the TV biz to stay at home.
Why I Donated My Hair: Pantene Beautiful Lengths
As I packaged up my hair to send off to Pantene Beautiful Lengths, I couldn't help but get a little emotional.

Maybe the pregnancy hormones are to blame, but I couldn't stop thinking about the woman who will receive it. 
Why I Donated My Hair: Pantene Beautiful Lengths
To The Woman Who Needs My Hair:

I don't know you. And you don't know me. But I can't help but feel like we're connected now since we have so many strands of hair we're sharing between us.

When you put on your new 'do with some of those wavy brunette strands that once draped down my back, I hope it empowers you.

I hope it gives you the strength you need to keep fighting.

And I hope it makes you feel more like your beautiful, strong, courageous self again.

When I decided to grow out my hair with the intention of donating it, it was hard.

Having to manage long hair with two young daughters isn't an easy feat, so I learned to quickly pick out any waffle particles from breakfast, toss it up in the "messy bun," and go on with my day.

But there rarely was a day that went by where I wouldn't look in the mirror and think about how much easier it'd be to chop it off to my shoulders and call it good.

Shorter hair was what I was used to. And frankly, it was just easier for me.

But all that seems so superficial in the grand scheme of things, doesn't it?

Because I'm sure there's not a day that goes by where you wish you didn't need someone else's hair.

Where you wish you didn't have to lose your own.

Where you wish you had a choice like I did.

As hard as it was for me to keep it growing and managing it, I recognize it's nothing compared to the road you're on. The long journey you're bravely navigating.

Please know that when you rock that new wig -- each and every one of those strands symbolizes a sincere effort to keep pursuing and keep going -- even when the road to where you're headed seems like it'll take forever.

Be strong and courageous. Stay determined. Put that hair on. Wear it with pride. Feel beautiful and know I'm rooting for you...wherever and whoever you are.

[Pantene Beautiful Lengths has donated more than 42,000 real-hair wigs to the American Cancer Society where women who have lost theirs due to cancer can receive them for free. Your hair and monetary donations help women battling cancer feel like themselves again. Click here for more information on how you can help.]

*This post is in memory of my Grandma Grace, in honor of my Aunt Cathy, and all the women fighting a courageous battle against cancer. 

Related content:
When Tomorrow Doesn't Come

2/15/2016

How to Survive Gestational Diabetes

This post contains affiliate links.
How to Survive Gestational Diabetes
Those of you who follow me on Facebook know that last month I was diagnosed with Gestational Diabetes.

This basically means my body -- because of my pregnancy -- isn't breaking down food the way it's supposed to. So now I prick my fingers four times a day and strictly monitor the amount of carbohydrates and protein I eat.

I'm not gonna lie -- the diet, the routine, the fasting and finger pricking have been hard adjustments, but ones I'm certainly happy to make to ensure I'm not harming our baby girl during what is now considered a higher risk pregnancy.

When I was diagnosed a few hours after swigging down that glucose drink (Yep - my results were so high, they allowed me to forego the 3-hour test.), I immediately texted my twin sister who also had it during her pregnancy.

"OMG ARE YOU SERIOUS? DON'T FREAK OUT. IT'LL BE OKAY," she texted back.

I wasn't freaking out until then. Ha!

The following weekend, she took me to the store and aisle by aisle, she walked me through the diet changes she made.

And a few days later, my husband and I met with a diabetes educator where we learned how to manage my Gestational Diabetes without completely isolating myself from the rest of the family during mealtimes.

Over the past few weeks, I've learned there are lots of women in the same boat -- trying their darndest to manage their blood sugar through diet changes.

My Pinterest board for Gestational Diabetes exploded overnight [by the way, Pinterest is a great resource for those of you who are -- or know someone who is -- facing Gestational Diabetes], so I thought I'd offer my insight and tips on how to survive a Gestational Diabetes diagnosis via my blog as well:

1. Remember this diagnosis is not the end of the world.

Sure, it puts a damper in the donut cravings, and it's a bummer you can't reach in the freezer for a pint of your favorite ice cream. [Trust me. The struggle is real there, folks.]

But remember, this lifestyle change is hopefully only temporary, and it's the first of many times that sweet baby of yours will take top priority.

2. Don't get discouraged.

Easier said than done, right? If you've never had to monitor your blood sugar before and now you suddenly find yourself having to check your levels multiple times a day, it's easy to feel discouraged when you're not getting the results you want.

I've learned Gestational Diabetes involves a lot of trial and error. What works for some women may not work for you; if you find something that works for your evening snack and fasting levels, stick to it. If something isn't working -- and trust me, I've got a growing list of what doesn't work -- switch it up and try something new.
How to Survive Gestational Diabetes
3. Keep an open mind with food options.

I'm quite possibly one of the pickiest eaters on the planet. I'd much rather grab a monster bar or Snickerdoodle for an afternoon pick-me-up than a cup of yogurt or cheese.

But I've actually found some options I enjoy. It's not baked oatmeal or pancakes, but OikosYogurt with 1/4-cup of Bear Naked protein granola [get it HERE -- it's so yummy!] makes a delicious and filling breakfast.

My favorite snacks with a great carb-protein ratio include:
I'm a carb-lover so these days I'm missing my pasta, mashed potatoes and french fries, but I've been able to try new recipe options like "Mock" Garlic Mashed Potatoes made out of cauliflower. (My honest opinion: They turned out okay. The texture of cooked cauliflower isn't my favorite, but it was edible.)

I've also found some recipes we already love in our home work well with my diet -- Hallelujah! Tacos and Shredded Ranch Chicken on a slice of whole wheat bread with a side of grapes and popcorn have been staples around here lately.
How to Survive Gestational Diabetes
4. Find a support group.

It's easy to feel isolated during this time because your life revolves around a different diet and -- if you're like me -- setting an alarm on your phone to prick your fingers and check your blood sugar at specific times throughout the day.

Find other expectant mommas in a similar boat who can walk this road with you or lean on someone who has been there, done that.

Surrounding yourself with people who understand can make the world of a difference. Sometimes, it's nice to receive validation from others who can say from experience, "Yes. Gestational Diabetes can be really, really hard. But I survived, and you will, too."

5. Give yourself grace.

You will have bad days. You may wake up with awful fasting numbers. You may feel guilty about eating one too many crackers or apple slices. There will be days you feel frustrated at the thought of eating another slice of cheese or serving of yogurt. You may feel like it's completely unfair. You may very well get angry when you get a "test strip error" after pricking your finger for the second time. You may feel like a failure when your numbers still aren't where you're trying to get them. It's normal to want to throw your hands up and say, "All I want is a sleeve of Oreos and jumbo bag of Peanut M&Ms!"

Give yourself grace and permission to feel however you're feeling. Take the harder days in stride and know there are better days ahead.

Moms: If you've experienced Gestational Diabetes in a pregnancy, do you have any advice, tips or favorite recipes for those of us in the midst of it?

Related content:
Our Journey to Addison
Announcing Our Pregnancy
The Truth About Getting Pregnant After Infertility and Adoption
The Beauty of an Open Adoption During Pregnancy
|Pregnancy| Is This Really Happening?
At the Doctor's Office

2/14/2016

What Busy Moms Love: Trendy Clothes [[+ $75 PinkBlush Giveaway]]

Lemme be honest for a second here.

Sometimes, it's really hard to appear put-together. Especially these days with a growing belly. The lack of sleep. The dark circles under the eyes. The chasing of two toddlers.

While it's rewarding and amazing, being a momma can be exhausting.

Can I get an Amen from all the frazzled mommas still drinking cold coffee from this morning?!

Between getting my daughters ready for the day -- making sure they're clothed and fed -- and loading 'em into the minivan with a diaper bag packed full of sippy cups and snacks and toys, it sometimes feels like I barely have time to brush my teeth before taking off for my weekly doctor's appointments as we prepare for the initiation into the "3 Under 3" club.
Trendy Maternity Clothes
That's why it felt like Christmas came 10-months early when I received a package of cute maternity clothes from an online maternity boutique PinkBlush.
Trendy Maternity Clothes
Soft, insulated leggings, and a long, extra-warm, knit sweater. With pockets. HELLO.
Trendy Maternity Clothes
It's a busy, pregnant momma's dream to look and feel pretty on-the-go, isn't it?!
Trendy Maternity Clothes
And this outfit? It's literally grab and go. Perfect for those of us on the run!
Trendy Maternity Clothes
So perfect I want to share the love.

I'm teaming up with PinkBlush / PinkBlush Maternity for a $75 gift card giveaway to spend on maternity or women's clothing!

To enter, fill out the information below -- Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Related content:

Announcing Our Pregnancy
The Truth About Getting Pregnant After Infertility and Adoption
The Beauty of an Open Adoption During Pregnancy
|Pregnancy| Is This Really Happening?
At the Doctor's Office

2/12/2016

What Love Looks Like With 2 Kids + 1 on the Way

What Love Looks Like
Our first picture together - circa 2004
Twelve years ago, he swept me off my feet by listening to the once-popular rap artist Chingy [don't judge, haha] in his white 2-door Buick Regal with tinted windows and subwoofers thumping from the trunk during a pizza delivery to our local county fairgrounds.

I had just graduated high school, and he picked up a part-time job to help pay for a summer break filled with college classes; that summer job just so happened to be at the same pizza place I worked at.
What Love Looks Like
It was love at first slice, you could say...

Fast-forward a little more than a decade, and things are a bit different.

Our hairstyles have changed. We have a few more wrinkles around our eyes with dark circles underneath; the battle wounds of sleepless nights in this season of parenthood, you could say.

Our bank accounts aren't as fruitful as they once were.

We've moved five times and lived in three different states.
What Love Looks Like
Instead of beer and wine-indulged late nights out with friends, our [far and few between] dates now consist of an early dinner so we can make it home in time to kiss our girls goodnight.

And that once-trendy Buick Regal? Well, that chick-magnet was traded in long ago eventually paving the way for a minivan.

But the love?

That's all still there.
What Love Looks Like
It's there in the fleeting moments he hugs me before leaving for work each morning.

Or when I wake up early to brew the coffee before he shuffles downstairs into the kitchen.

It's there in the moments of a kiss on the cheek as one of us is loading the dishwasher and the other is folding piles of laundry while trying to make sure our daughters aren't dumping their evening snacks in the couch cracks during the 238974th episode of "Thomas the Train."

It's there when he says, "I'll get up with her this time. You rest."

Love may look a little different now -- just like we look a little different than we did during the carefree days spent in our first apartment in Omaha, Nebraska.
What Love Looks Like
But what we had 12 years ago is still there today.

It's there in the hard times. In the sad times and stressful times. In the unknown times. In the scary times where it feels like more is being thrown at us than we can handle.
What Love Looks Like
It's there when we hold hands in the car, and when he makes taking out the trash a fun outing for one of the girls.

It's there in the quick and occasional text message check-ins throughout the day.

It's there in the messy routines of paying bills, grocery shopping, balancing the checkbook, and emptying the dishwasher each morning.
What Love Looks Like
It's there in the to-do lists, the kids' paintings, the nighttime prayers and songs and hours we spend reading books as a family.

Sometimes I feel like we barely have time to talk like we used to -- just the two of us -- because we're so busy tending to this crazy, busy, beautiful life we've made together.

But we wouldn't trade it for the world.
What Love Looks Like
Because this unpredictable, chaotic life we've made? This is what BIG love looks like for us in this season. It's what we spent so many years praying for, and we wouldn't have it any other way.

Whatever love looks like in your life right now -- whether it's messy and hard or easy and carefree or maybe a combination of sorts -- I hope you find a reason to celebrate and embrace the people you love today.

Related content:
Why We Chose to Take Maternity Photos
7 Truths About 7 Years of Marriage
This post was originally published on 2/12/2016.

2/09/2016

What Busy Moms Love: Feeding Products

It's no secret that being a mom to two -- almost three -- girls so close in age is awesome; but it does come with challenges.

Like, you know, brushing your teeth or getting out of the house on time ;)

As we prepare for our initiation into the "3 Under 3" club [that exists, right?!], I'm sharing some of my favorite products -- my must-have list for busy moms.

So moms-to-be and moms-that-are, take note!

Today I'm talking about my favorite feeding products: Tommee Tippee.
Apparently, it's our daughter's favorite line, too ;)

Our daughters were both introduced to Tommee Tippee as newborns with bottles, and they've since graduated to the sippy cups.

Here's the newest Filter Water Bottle:
Olivia likes it because it's bigger than her other sippy cups, and I like it because it filters water as she drinks it and because it's spill proof!

And hello? I love all things spill-proof.

And although these colorful bowls aren't spill-proof, they do have lids [+ spots to keep spoons]!
These bowls are perfect for our family when it comes to feeding quickly on-the-go.

And finally, these spoons are my fave.
In fact, we probably have more Tommee Tippee spoons in our silverware drawer than we do actual silverware -- HA!

Aside from the clunky handles that make it easier for toddlers to grab and learn to self-feed, we practice learning colors with these!

It's a win-win when my daughters can not only tell me what color of spoon they want to eat lunch with, but when they can feed themselves!
Sponsored post: I received the above products for free, but opinions, as always, are my own.

2/06/2016

Why We Chose to Take Maternity Photos

I could think of a million reasons why I didn't want to get maternity photos taken.

My belly is huge. I have an extra chin thanks to the donuts and Hot Tamales I survived on during the first trimester. My clothes are either too tight or too loose or too short for my awkwardly-tall, lanky pregnant body. 

And let's face it, sometimes pregnancy just isn't pretty.

But in the past 30+ weeks I've learned something: 

Pregnancy is about embracing a miracle. It's about continuously accepting your ever-changing body and the precious gift -- life -- that's growing inside of you. 
It's not about the stretch marks or extra pounds or the added inches around the belly.

After years of struggling with infertility, this is certainly a time in our marriage and family worth celebrating. And even on the days I don't feel pretty, this experience is still beautiful.
Why We Chose to Take Maternity Photos
When I look back on my iPhone selfies in the months since we moved and found out we were pregnant, I can't help but think that even in the midst of the longest days, this journey toward meeting our third daughter has gone by incredibly fast. 

And we won't experience these moments as a family again. 
In a few weeks, life for our family will be different. 

It'll be a new, chaotic-but-welcomed balancing act of raising 3 daughters under the age of 3. 
We won't ever experience this same anticipation and excitement of a baby sister growing in Mommy's belly again...because she'll be here!

I want to be able to look back on these nine months and smile and say, "Remember us? Remember how excited and terrified and grateful we were for this season?"

To have these moments captured forever is priceless. 


Related content:

It's A...
Announcing Our Pregnancy
[Pregnancy] Is This Really Happening?
At the Doctor's Office

2/02/2016

No Apologies Needed

Three girls.

A female dog.

And a wife.

My husband's pretty lucky to be graced with the presence of so many ladies (or so he says...).
Ultrasound Gender Reveal
Since finding out Baby #3 is a girl, we've heard it all.

"Dude, you hafta let him get a male dog."

[As if I'm depriving him from testosterone in the house. Pretty sure we have no room in our 2-bedroom town house for another dog with 3 kids under the age of 3. ThankYouVeryMuch.]

"Aw, too bad it's not a boy for Chris."

[As if to imply another girl sucks, and he would love a boy more.]

"He's gonna start getting a man cycle."

[Okay, this one's kinda funny, I'll admit it. But still. Come on, now!]

"Just wait 'til their teenagers."

[Um, yeh. I'm gonna go out on a limb and say ALL teens are a challenge, not just teen girls.]

"Too bad you can't have some of each!"

[Really?]

The thing is this:

We've learned a lot after infertility.

We are thrilled to welcome another girl the the fam; no apologies needed.

Perhaps we see the world a bit differently than people who haven't experienced challenges with growing their family.

We count our blessings -- however and whenever they come to us -- even if they don't meet some socially constructed standard of familial proportions.

Related content:

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Our Move + Exhaustion