Wednesday, June 6, 2018

Self Care Series: Nutritional Supplements

Round 2 of the Self Care Series!

After feeling like I was floundering in the weightloss department I started wondering if something was wrong with my body. I wasn't losing weight. Sure, I'm in the late 20's. But I working out a few times a week, watching what I was eating... nothing. I started to get really frustrated and decided that if I was going to "stay the same" then I might as well be able to eat chocolate and drink a Dr. Pepper when my kids go down for quiet time/nap time. 

I decided to kick it in gear and really focus on what I'm doing. Like WHY I want to get fit. I'll be totally honestly with you. I want to feel hot again. I want to feel good in my skin. Heck, I want to feel good in my clothes again. I am in full acceptance that my body will "never look the same" after having kids. I'm great with that, but I also know my body's potential. I know that I can be healthier, fitter and have more energy if I just work hard enough to fuel my body with good things and push my physical limits. 

This is where WM Nutrition comes in. They have a super yummy protein shake that has great macros ( in my personal opinion.) I have another protein shake that I LOVE, but it has a good chunk of carbs that I'm just not quiet ready to part with so early in the day. They blueberry protein shake is delicious. I add Collagen Peptides for Hair, Skin and Bone support. Then I add some chia seeds, flax seeds and spinach, cuz you know - that's all good stuff. ;) I add frozen blueberries and ice, too because I like my protein shake to think it's a milkshake. ;) It's SO good! I'm dying to try their Cookies and Cream flavor too. 

I often feel like I am dragging myself through my workouts. I find that I don't push myself and I just can't wait to get through it so I can check it off my list. As it's starting to warm up here in the mountains I have been loving running outside! It's so crisp and beautiful in the mornings. But inside or outside workouts - I don't have much time. I need to power through and get the most of my workouts. Enter WM Nutrition's PreWorkout. Just enough energy to power through my workouts. I love that you don't have to take this with water. I'm prone to side aches... I don't know if that's just something I deal with or if I'm just really out of shape ;) But being able to skip the water and just pour the pre-workout straight into my mouth pixie stick style is a game changer for me! I love it! I love that if I don't have a crazy tough workout planned then I only need to use half. You can bet that I'll be using a whole packet for my trail run in July though. (seriously - I'll need all the help.)

And my biggest nemesis... snacking. I heart snacks a whole lot. I always find myself snacking on this, that and the other all day long. Mostly because I'm surrounded by it. Yummy kids snacks are all over my house. Even the healthy ones really have no place in my diet. I get crazy snacky once the kids are down for the afternoon. I tend to fold laundry while watching Netflix and chocolate and or mass amounts of wheat thins seem to go hand in hand with each other. I have been drinking WM Nutritions AdvantraSlim - which is their appetite control. I drink it right before I eat lunch and I truly do not get the urge to dig into my pantry for a treat. It feels really, really good to not regret eating something that I really didn't want or need. 

Don't get me wrong - sometimes I need something sweet and I stand by it, but for the most part... I'm just eating because I can and I'm bored. I find it much easier to stay within my calorie and macro count when I'm not even thinking about a snack. The AdvantraSlim totally does that for me! 

I whole heartedly believe in good foods that fuel our bodies. I think that nutrition is the biggest contributor to our health. Exercise is great and I love how I feel after, but I don't have the time to 
out-exercise a crappy diet. I'm also a firm believer in balance. Sometimes I really do want to go out for pizza or grab some snacks and catch up on our shows with Matt. And if I'm staying on track otherwise - I think that is perfectly fine. WM Nutrition helps with that! 

You can use the code EFFORT50 for 50% off your order! That's huge! 

Thank you to WM Nutrition for sponsoring this post. Thank YOU for supporting the brands and companies that support Beautiful Effort!

Thursday, April 19, 2018

Self Care Series: Teeth

I've decided to start this Self Care Series to remind myself (& hopefully give you some ideas) of the things that I can do for myself that make me happy. Sometimes I get so wrapped up in being "Matt's wife" or "Kess' and Manning's mom" that I forget that I'm "Kierra" - not that I would trade those titles for anything in the world, but being "Kierra" makes me "Matt's wife" and "Kess & Manning's mom." 

The best gift I can give my family is a happy mom. Being a happy mom requires a little bit of self care.

So I thought I would start with something super basic. My mouth. My teeth. My smile.

When I was in high school I had a lot of extra time to pamper myself. I always had time to whiten my teeth, but really struggled with sensitivity. I even have a 1 small spot that hurts extra bad because it's the tooth where I always cracked open my sunflower seeds with. Softball probs.


Between my schedule getting busier and busier I stopped whitening my teeth. Somewhere in the middle of Manning's pregnancy - I felt like my smile was super dull. I fondly remembered the days when I had time to whiten while I practiced doing my makeup in different ways. But now... I throw in my Smile Brilliant whitening trays while I shower or after the kids go to bed and Matt & I are reading before bed.

Smile Brilliant sends an impression kit for you to do at home. Then you send in your dental impression and they make your custom-fitted whitening trays. The whitening process is super easy. I just put a ribbon of whitening gel into my trays, pop them in and read in bed while Matt and I wind down from our day. I usually whitening for 20-25 minutes and definitely still see progress after each whitening session. I'm so happy with how bright my smile is becoming.

While I still struggled with a little bit of tooth sensitivity, I found that if I use Smile Brilliant's Desensitizing gel right before bed - I went to sleep and woke up with next to no issues and pain. I always try to follow it up with this toothpaste, because I think it keeps teeth stains, sensitivity and plaque at bay, too.

I'm super terrible at flossing (my dental assistant sister will not be impressed with my confession.) I think flossing is so annoying. But I know the importance of it, so I bought these super handy flossers so I don't have to deal with the dang string wrapped around my finger deal. Does that bug anyone else? Ha! We keep these in our cupboard and it makes flossing a breeze!

And last but not least... this is my most favorite toothbrush. I got it from my dentist after a cleaning and a few months later I bought Matt one because he had serious toothbrush envy. ;) My teeth feel so much more clean if I use this toothbrush versus a manual brush. I truly don't like using a regular toothbrush anymore... I just can't. I'm a toothbrush snob now.

There it is. My clean/white teefer (mom life) round up! I feel a million times better if I have a white & bright smile. 

This is just the first post of the Self Care Series so get ready for some more fun!

Ok before I go-

Smile Brilliant is offering a a 15% discount to YOU! Just use the code beautifuleffort15 at checkout.

And a GIVEAWAY. Winner will get $149 Smile Brilliant credit.

Enter here ---> *Giveaway will close April 26th. 

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Wednesday, April 18, 2018

My Husband is Not One of My Children

When Matt was in his snowmobile accident about two months ago he joked that he was my 3rd child.  My friends joined in and we all had a good laugh. It was funny because it felt true. Poor Matt couldn't do much of anything when it came to helping around the house or with the kids which is a big change from our normal life. For the first 2 days he couldn't walk without help. I was pretty exhausted. But, even when he was laid up on the couch & I was frazzled doing dinner or getting the kids ready for bed he would say, "hand me that baby while you do that." I would hand off Manning and finished cleaning the kitchen or whatever I had going on. He couldn't do much, but he helped how he could.

I get pretty frustrated when women refer to their husbands as their "2nd, 3rd, 4th... child." Ladies, our husbands are capable of a lot. They might have weaknesses that ruffle our feathers, but guess what? So do we. Could you imagine the uproar that would ensue if our husbands referred to us as their child. Or another mouth to feed or another person to provide for? We would be pissed. The notion that our men are incapable of real life kills me. Really? Do we think so little of our husbands?

I've seen a few videos going around on Facebook about a husband staring into a kitchen cupboard looking for something (that's right in front of his face) and she's livid because he claims it's not in there. I'm sure we've all been there. I have, but I can easily laugh it off, because Matt's been frustrated by something similar I'm sure. Maybe when I forgot to pay a bill, or can't figure out my accounting program (I'm such a good small business owner) or when I leave a pile of stuff on the counter. There is plenty for our husband's to be frustrated at, too. We can't go around berating our husbands for things that they don't have to deal with all day, everyday.

I'm part of a few mom groups that have some complaints about their husbands on there. I get it. We all need a place to vent because sometimes life can be frustrating. I think it's ok to express frustration sometimes. Find a good group of girlfriends who understand that you love that man more than anything, but who understand that sometimes life is frustrating. But believe you me, I would be mortified if my husband was typing all about my weaknesses or things that frustrate him in a "dad group." Do we not owe our men the same courtesy?

I know the house like the back of my hand and Matt knows the garage. ;) The other day I had to use a set of teeny tiny screwdrivers for one of the kids' toys. I decided to keep them in the junk drawer for easy access, after all they're tiny little screwdrivers... he probably only uses the big screwdrivers, right? Poor Matt came in after searching for them in the garage for a half hour. Ooops. I could tell he was frustrated but he hugged me and laughed it off. Why can't we do the same courtesy? Ya sometimes they don't know where the raisins are in the pantry or where one of the kids' toys is in their rooms. We can't possibly do it all - so why can't we just understand that our husbands can't do it all either.

That's the glory of forgiveness in marriage. So many little things can frustrate us, but if we take everything to heart we are going to have a sad one. So, no my husband is not one of my children, he is my partner. My most favorite teammate. Sometimes I pick up the slack, sometimes he does. It's the name of the marriage game. Marriage is perfect. We get mad and angry and irritated. It is what it is, but lets not give off the idea that our husbands can't take care of themselves or need to be treated like a child. I hope to high heaven that my husband sees me as a capable, strong person who can get shiz done. I see him that way.

Sunday, April 15, 2018

Homemade Chicken Noodle Soup

I don't post recipes on my blog very often, which is kind of a bummer because I really love to cook. I love trying new recipes and perfect my favorite ones. I tend to get in a rut with food and now that I have a picky toddler... it makes things even trickier. I try to do a simple breakfast for the kids, then a fun "kid" lunch with a side of fruit or veggies and then the kids eat what we eat for dinner. Kess has started to flat our refuse dinner by claiming that she "doesn't like" whatever I happened to make. 

We've been working really hard to make sure she eats what we are having, but still be respectful of the things she doesn't like. For some reason Kess hates potatoes. Whenever we have a side of potatoes she will eat the one that we ask her to eat, but then won't eat anymore. This is the one food that she's been consistent about not liking. 

We ate homemade chicken noodle soup tonight and our dinner conversation went like this,
Kess, "I just don't like carrots."
Me, "You ate carrots in last nights dinner."
Kess,"Well I don't like chicken."
Me, "You eat chicken nuggets all the time."
Kess, "Hmm, well I don't like noodles."
Me, "You love noodles because they're in macaroni and cheese."


We aren't above bribery either. "Oh you want some ice cream, you say? Better eat all of your dinner."
We don't put a ton of food on her plate, so we don't have our sights set to high. But I'm determined to make sure she gets the best of both worlds. Kid food and nutritious food... and if I'm lucky - it's both all in one meal. ;) Manning is at the lovely stage of eating pretty much everything you put on his plate, until he's full or over it. Then he does a nice windshield wiper move and it all ends up on the floor. Or he pulls out his sassy attitude and picks up whatever he doesn't want, looks me dead in the eye and drops it on the floor. If it wasn't so annoying to clean up after him it would be hilarious. 
Ok it's kind of funny. 

Homemade Chicken Noodle Soup

For the noodles-
2 1/2 cups of flour
1 pinch of salt 
2 eggs
1tbsp melted butter
1/2 cup of milk

Mix all ingredients together. I knead with my hands in a bowl and then let cover and let it sit for 5 minutes. 
Roll it out on the counter with some flour & cut into strips with a pizza cutter.
I then lay them on a paper towel or a cookie cooling rack to dry out. 

For the soup-
8-10 cups of chicken broth
2-3 carrots peeled and sliced
2 stalks of celery diced.
2 chicken breasts cooked and shredded

I will either do chicken broth or mix the water with chicken bullion. Whatever is easiest or I have on hand. While that boils I start dicing the veggies. 

I'm don't typically measure spices for this recipe. I'll throw in some onion salt or minced onion and some parsley. Kess has an aversion to parsley "the green stuff" right now so I've been skipping it on occasion. Today I actually just forgot.

Tonight I served the soup with a small salad and some french bread.
Grocery hack: our family can't go through a whole loaf of french bread, even in one week so I started cutting it in thirds. We use the first third for dinner that night. Then I wrap the next two in plastic wrap and tin foil and throw them in the freezer. They thaw out fairly quickly and then I sliced, butter, put on a cookie sheet & bake at 350 until they're toasty. 

This is one of my favorite winter meals. It's easier that it looks and it's always a hit, despite Kess' ever changing preferences. ;) Matt and I sure like it.

Have a great week, you guys!

Friday, April 6, 2018

1 year in McCall

We have officially been in McCall for 1 year now. We moved to McCall in last March right at the end of the winter season and right in the beginning of "mud season" as it is called here. The first day I was incredibly nervous, the second day I cried a lot. Lots of nerves and uncertainty hit, especially since I was 7 weeks away from having Manning. But, after about 7 days in McCall - I felt so much peace and knew that we were meant to be here. We've spent previous 6 months looking for a home to buy & continued looking for another 5. Making our house search in McCall almost a year and a half long since we were looking for 4 months before we moved up here.

When we originally decided to move up here we checked into building a home and we just weren't sure if we could swing it financially. So we kept looking and looking for a home to buy. Everything that we found just didn't work. I'm not sure if we were being overly picky since we had just built a home in Nampa, or if we didn't feel right about any of the homes for a reason.

Right around Christmas time we met with a builder who does most of his work in the valley, but had recently finished a build down the street from where we are living now. We met at Starbucks and broke down our wants and shared a few plan ideas with him. He got back to us with a quote that was significantly better than any builder up here had given us. So for the next few days we went over finances, broke down the costs of homes up here for reference, and went over our finances again and again. And prayed a lot. Like - a lot a lot. A comfortable home is really big on our priority list, but we don't want to only be able to afford our mortgage. McCall offers a lot of activities and we wanted to make sure we could give ourselves those opportunities, too. 

We had a dream lot that we had been keeping our eye on for a few months and decided to pull the trigger.

 We purchased the lot at the end of January and have been designing the house every since. We are a few weeks away from breaking ground. We are waiting for the final structural plans & snow up here to melt a little. We are closer to town (about 5-7 minutes out of McCall instead of our current 20 minutes.) and close to friends. Our lot is 2 acres so we are super excited about our kids being able to run and roam.

I feel a lot better about being closer to town because the 20 minutes drive in for any errands and then the 20 minute drive home with 2 kids; 1 of which naps two times a day was getting really exhausting and I found myself not going anywhere for that reason - which leads to a little cabin fever. Matt's a little bummed to not be living across from Lake Cascade any more, but I have a feeling that we will be able to make up for that in hikes, fishing & beach days in the future.

I can't believe that we get to build again. I never thought we would. It has been so fun to recreate the things that we absolutely loved about our last house (you'll definitely see some similarities) and add in new things that match the ambience of McCall and the mountains. The house has a different layout that the last & it has been really fun to add in some rustic elements and make sure that we emphasize the gorgeous view that we are going to have (yay for big windows.) I can't wait to share the process again & hopefully I don't bug the heck out of you with all the updates.

As always - thanks for following along & sharing in the excitement with us. We appreciate it more than you know!!

Thursday, March 22, 2018

Easter Baskets

For the first time ever... I am on top of things. I bought all of our Easter stuff last week (minus the candy) and I'm all prepped and ready to fill those little Easter baskets. 
Growing up we always got a new church outfit & I have always loved that tradition, but since our winters are so long here & the kids got new church clothes for Christmas we decided to forego the Easter outfit this year. 

I like to think of things that the kids need or could put to good use for Christmas stockings and Easter Baskets, mostly because I can kill two budgets birds with one stone. ;) 

The "Easter Bunny" got the kids each a water bottle & a book about sharing. To share. ;)

Manning has lots of little chompers now, so a little toothbrush was in order. He has one that he hates, so I thought this little sharky one would be better.

Stencil Kit

Kess loves to color and draw, so I thought some stencils would be great for her - especially at church. I loved stencils as a little girl so this was a fun little gift to pick out.

Kess loves "prize eggs" (thanks YouTube) so she will be more excited about what's in her plastic eggs than anything else. I'm making a little trip to Nampa right before Easter so I'll be stocking up and candy and probably little things of play dough & small trinkets. 

Before I had kids I decided that I would fill my kids Christmas stockings and Easter baskets with things other than candy. That way they wouldn't eat too much junk and what not. Well guess what... while I still think that's a great idea... you gotta have a filler that doesn't cost an arm and a leg. Any guesses on what that might be? Candy. It's candy. 

The "Easter Bunny" usually brings Matt and I little something, too... but the East Bunny is on a budget this year so we decided to keep it simple with some stainless steel water water bottles & treats. I usually love to get Matt a tie to wear to church or meetings each year, but I got this one a little early...

If you have a future or returned missionary, a hubby who loves a certain country/state or an "enthusiastic Idahohan" (as Matt was called in a newspaper interview last year) then Statesman Ties perfect gift for them.

Of course, Matt needed the Idaho tie, but I debated getting the skinny USA tie as well. I love that they will add custom embroidery as well.
So if you need a little something extra to add to the ol' Easter basket, or something sentimental for the  guy in your life - Statesman Ties have some really great options!

I hope this sends some Easter basket ideas your way!

I'm really looking forward to Easter candy this year - dang you baby weight for making me count my calories! Easter candy doesn't count though, right? ;)

Monday, March 5, 2018

Social Media Break

A few weeks ago I took a little social media break. I'm back, but I'm working to create a different pattern to my every day life. I don't want to check social media near as often as I do, which is hard because I love interacting with my friends & followers on Instagram through my stories or their stories. 

I've had a rough patch of life over the last 5-6 weeks. Nothing serious, just fed up with a lot of things. Truth be told I haven't been finding a ton of joy in motherhood. It's freezing where I live. We have 4 feet of snow in our yard and I don't have the energy to put two kids in there snow clothes. Kess would be in high heaven, but I wouldn't get to do much with her because no way, no how is Manning letting me put him down in the snow. Between emotional threenager stuff and a teething 9 month old I had reached my limit. I was turning to food and social media to take me away from the hum drum of being home with my kids all day. Which makes me super sad because I wouldn't trade anything for being home with my kids - day in and day out. 

We've been working really hard to stick to our budget. We have kept a budget ever since we got married (almost 8 years ago) and sometimes we killed it and sometimes we were like, "oh shiz... the budget." but we always try to be aware of where our money is going. Over the last few months we changed our eating habits, too. More whole foods, but we like treats so we tried to find some balance. So while I'm at the grocery store with two small kids I'm also calculating which pasta is less per ounce and making sure I buy the organic cereal and the dairy free milk for our protein shakes and the nitrate free hotdogs because I can't deprive my 3 year old of hot dogs. I'm researching "healthy cheap meals" so I don't feed my kids cancer-ridden meals, but also don't go $600 over the budget doing so. Did I mention that I had to get Manning back before nap time. Lord knows we need a good nap schedule around here. 

Oh and have I told you that I'm 6 pounds away from my pre-Manning weight. And 10 pounds away from where I really want to be. I worked out hard for about a month, but couldn't find the motivation to eat well (remember, I turned to food and social media for comfort) so nothing was happening. I was skipping precious shower or cleaning time to workout and I saw zero results. The endorphins helped, but not enough.

A few weeks ago I feel like I finally cracked. I was so over it. I'm over scrolling through instagram for the 10th time and seeing all these "bloggers" rave, "OMG I'm so obsessed with these shoes. They're under $200! Such a good deal. Aren't they so good?" Uh no. They're uglier than sin, but 10k followers makes you some sort of fashion genius and 5k of those followers are going to purchase them because you said you were "so obsessed." barf barf barf. 
I was so tired of feeling like I couldn't keep up, tired of not having the "swipe to shop" option in my stories, so tired of hearing about the 20th "Secret Sale," so tired of hearing fashion bloggers talk about how something was such a great deal because these jeans were "under $100"- you know what they means, right? That means they're $99. But don't you worry, they're "so perfect" that they have them in 3 washes. 

Don't get me wrong, I love a good collaboration as much as the next person. I actually have a few collaborations that I'm working on right now. They help my blog and I can introduce someone to a new product that can help them. Product sharing is great, it really is, but I had just reached my limit of "try this" or "you need this" or "I'm obsessed" being thrown in my face. I couldn't take it anymore. 

The more I checked social media the less my kids got my attention and the less my house got my attention. Then I was overwhelmed and teary because I didn't do part of my job for that day. I'm a firm believer in making sure the house is clean because it's part of my job. I pride myself on my clean house. But it wasn't getting done. My pride and joy cleaning schedule wasn't getting done, Matt was asking, "Do I have clean underwear?" "Uh..." 

I was feeling dark and tired and quite frankly depressed about how heavy everything felt. I couldn't shake how exhausted I felt over everything. Literally everything. Matt kept saying stupid things, the kids kept freaking out over the dumbest stuff, I swear everyone in the world was trying to make me mad or make me cry. Anxiety and depression can be a doozy like that. It's hard to come to terms with the fact that every one else isn't wrong - you're wrong. And it's not your fault. 

So I decided to let go of everything that wasn't a necessity. Social media being the main culprit.  I deleted it off my phone and didn't get it for about 4 days. Which doesn't seem like a lot... but when you're addicted to something dumb like that my muscle memory I would flip to the spot the app was on my phone - only to find that I had deleted it. Time and time again.

I poured my heart out to Matt when he was starting to realize that stuff wasn't getting done around the house, I was short fused and over every little thing. I broke down saying, "I can't be the mom they need me to be, the wife you need me to be and the me I need to be." I felt at a loss and really, really tired of trying to be a better person and falling short. every. damn. time. It's really exhausting to fall short as much as I was. It's easy to just start giving up. Not on life in general, but on the little things that could potentially make you a better person, like good food, exercise, gospel study, prayers, good friends, family, etc. I was putting the good things on the back burner to survive - never a good choice.

I write in my journal, changed up a few natural supplements I was taking & lowered my expectations tremendously. Then Matt got hurt...

I was on my way to church with both kids when he called me and said, "Don't be mad... but I had a little accident. Jerame is taking me to the ER and I'll need some stitches." I asked if he was ok and said I would meet him there. What I was assuming was a small gash turned out to need minor surgery. I was really grateful I was sitting down when I finally saw his injury. Matt friend took the kids to the waiting room for me so we would figure out exactly what we needed to do. I called Matt's parents to come up and help since mine were out of town. My friends here were both out of town as well and that that point I felt the stress of not living by any family. 

After we figured out that Matt would definitely need surgery I took the kids home to take naps, but could't shake the feeling of wanting to be there while Matt had surgery, so I pulled into the church to see if I could grab our babysitter, only to remember that they were out of town for the weekend. I walked into the primary room in tears and explained to a few friends what was going on. One friend said, "leave your kids here, I'll take them" I panicked about nap schedules, etc and another friend stepped in and said she would follow me home and stay with my kids until my in-laws got there. At that point I didn't know why I was crying. He was ok, everything was fine. But it all piled on super quickly. 

The surgery was successful and Matt came home that night - in the middle of one of the worst snowstorms that we have had all winter, of course. So while Matt's parents were here Matt's dad taught me how to use the snowblower, which just felt like one more thing to take care of and one more thing to remember.

Looking back on it all I am beyond grateful for everyone who jumped in immediately to help us. We couldn't have done it without you. They say it takes a village to raise your kids... I think it also takes a village to help us grow as people as well.

I think social media is so addicting mostly because we all like to be validated. We like to be validated in our feelings, in our efforts and in life. All those likes and comments give us that. I have the type of personality that thrives on validation. I lack just enough self confidence that I need to be reminded that what I'm doing or trying to do it right. Mothers don't get validated for their efforts like one would get validated at their normal job. No praise, no raises, no bonuses, no instant gratification. 

Well, that was just a bunch of rambling, sorry about that. I'm back on the social media front, but will be checking in much less. I've been contemplating deleting the app during the day & only using it at night time and nap times. It's all consuming and not in a good way whatsoever. 

Thank you to those who follow this blog, who checked on me when I took a break and who said they felt the same way often. I think its important that we recognize what the world is saying is important and what our heart is saying is important. The world often yells it at us and our heart just sits back quietly waiting for us to listen to it's quiet whispers. Sometimes it's best to turn off all the information that's being yelled at us all day long and just soak up the silence for a while.

Today I'm a big believer in hugs from my husband and kids, lowering my expectations about motherhood, and finding the good in life. I have a really, really good life. One that I wouldn't trade for  anything. So this little novel isn't about complaining, it's about finding the things that are most important to me. I know what they are & checking social media & being hammered with worldly info isn't one of them.

I hope that you're able to find the things that are most important to you. They matter. The things that way on your heart matter, it's just about weeding out the bad and keeping the good real close.