Friday, September 14, 2018

Friday Faves

Do you guys like Friday Faves? Is it still a thing? I'm gunna keep it a thing, ok? I like sharing stuff with you guys. I promise to not bombard you with stuff that we don't use or like. Deal? Deal.

Have you guys tried ZipFizz? I feel like in my early motherhood stage - I need an extra amount of caffeine to get me through the day. I'm exhausted. Flat pooped out. I just need it. I've always been the type of person that wants my body to "make its own energy." BUT - I have since seen the light. I've come to terms with the fact that during this time in my life... I need an extra boost. And as much and I love me some Dr. Pepper... I can't have it every day. I mean, I could... but I shouldn't. So ZipFizz it is. The Blue Raspberry is my favorite, but I'm currently making my way through a pack of Orange Cream. It's very sweet, but also delicious. Next flavor I'm buying - Limon. Can't wait. (The things I live for...)

I recently read Model Mormon by Rosemary Card & I loved it. She has such a fun, modern insight on  life. Obviously, I'm LDS, so I can relate to a lot of the topics that she shared. My personal favorites were modest ISN'T hottest, her thoughts on Heavenly Mother & how Christ wept so it's ok if men weep. We get so caught up with a world where the mothers are the nurturing ones, but we need soft hearted men in the world, too.  Aaaaa-men.

We've been slowly collecting books for the kids about emotions, feelings & consequences. We just bought Teach Your Dragon To Understand Consequences. This is a super easy read & I love that I can teach little lessons along the way to Kess. Sometimes when I run into a teach moment with Kess I feel like I don't have anything to refer to. I can't say, "remember when..." because it's the first time we are faced with a certain incident. So if we have a few of these emotions/feelings, etc. books I think it will be easy for Kess to pinpoint certain instinces and I can help her grow that way.

I gave this Neutrogena Hydro Boost Water Gel Sunscreen a try last week at the beach and I really liked it. Super lightweight & non-greasy (I hate greasy sunscreen or lotion.) Plus, it smells really good. I didn't grow up being super conscious about sun damage. I was naturally dark so I rarely burned & I didn't give sunscreen a second thought most of the time. Now that I'm getting older and starting to see some of the damage that the sun has done to my skin I take sunscreen more seriously. I'm a big believer in the necessity that is Vitamin D. I want my kids to get some good vitamin D, but I also want them protected. A lightweight sunscreen is (in my opinion) the way to go! The less they notice about it (beyond me applying it) the better.

*This post is sponsored by Neutrogena & BrandBacker. All opinions are my own. Thank you for supporting the companies that support Beautiful Effort.

Thursday, September 6, 2018

Sibling Snapshot

I've decided to document these two cutie little siblings through little snapshots since we are slowly outgrowing our "monthly posts" now that Manning is older than a year.

I wanted to document random things about the kids; things that I normally wouldn't be able to remember a year from now.

We are try to soak up this last little bit of our mountain summer & we are hoping to squeeze in another beach day or two before Fall hits, but I am loving the chilly mornings. I love living in Idaho because we get all 4 seasons. Granted, Winter is by far the longest season when you live in the mountains, but I'll still take it. I love Summer, but I couldn't handle living in the constant heat. Nope. I need breaks.

The kids are growing like freaking weeds. I feel like some days just drag on. Then they go to sleep and I miss them. Then they wake up older. And then I'm sad. Motherhood is a freaking roller coaster, right? Rollercoasters make me queazy...

Kess age: 4

Kess started preschool today. We are doing a little co-op with some friends from church, so it's pretty informal, but the social aspect is what she really needs. She's a little genius if ya ask me, but she is still slowly learning social skills like sharing taking turns, etc. I think she will really thrive this year. She knows all her letters & can write them pretty well. She mixes up B & D sometimes. We are working on her spacial awareness so she doesn't spell her name "EKSS" & she's doing really well. She's starting to understand that everything works from left to right. She loves to do copy work, so I can write out some words and she will copy them below. Again - working on spacial awareness and she can write her whole name. First & Last.

She loves Manning until she doesn't. He's getting busier and busier and usually loves to get into whatever she is playing with. We are working on Kess being more patient with him and working on teach Manning to not bulldoze whatever she is doing.

Kess struggles to say the "th" sound so "think" & "thing" come out "'hink" & "'hing." I love it. The other day I heard her say "think" and noticed she got the "th" in there and it made me a little sad. She also adds a "p" to the front of most words. Like, "pasgusting" & "pahsausted." I hope she does this for a while because it's hilarious.

Kess thinks her dad is the most amazing person ever. She loves all of her grandparents. She thinks she will marry her cousin Conrad someday - despite our best efforts to tell her that she really, really can't do that.

She loves quiet time. She goes into her room for a movie or music while Manning take this nap. She usually colors or plays with toys & is no longer allowed to cut paper during quiet time since she chopped her own hair. But, she really loves doing quiet time. She's wildly great and independent play & really needs a little time to herself every day.

Kess is starting to backtalk a little which is infuriating and kinda funny. She has a super similar personality to mine so we tend to butt heads, but I'm working on being more patient so I can help her through her problems instead of telling her that she's being ridiculous... because you can bet your butt that she will yell back, "No, you're being ridiculous!" She usually has the sweetest personality and we all love her to pieces.

Manning 16 months.

The busiest boy. Seriously mellow Kess did not prepare me for Manning. He climbs on everything. Including climbing my pantry shelves to get his own snacks. He loves to pull DVD's out of their cases. He is sleeping really well right now and it makes me so happy. We recently got rid of his bottle entirely and he has some milk in a sippy just before bath time. Once we stopped giving him milk in his room he was sleeping much better at night. Glory, Glory Hallelujah! He sleeps with a water bottle and will hand it back to you & say, "moooore" if it isn't all the way full. He loves his Paci. More than Kess did and I wasn't sure that was possible. I think I'll have to wean him from that after we move into our new house.

Manning is getting chattier and chattier every day. I love it. He says, "eh dom" (welcome) instead of "thank you." He says, "mom," "dad," "kess," "keekee" for kitty, "hot," "all done" & a slew of other words that only we understand. He mimics pretty well so he's learning new words almost every day. It's fun to have him talk with us. He is the happiest little guy until he's not, then he will let you (& everyone else) know how unhappy he is. He can not/will not sit in the grocery cart. I'm positive that he will fall out one day.

He loves to climb up on the couch and then run and dive into the pillows. I think he gets a new bruise, booboo or bump every single day.

He snuggles right up to be during nap time or bedtime. He loves to hum along to whatever song I'm humming to him. He actually knows "I'm a Child of God" pretty well. It's impressive.

He loves when dad comes home and usually greats him with a "Daaaaaad" in a super deep voice. He usually drinks about a 4th of my protein drink every morning. He loves to go down the slides at the park backwards and on his tummy. And for being a boy who is constantly on the go, he loves to just sit and read books. I often find him in his room, sitting on the floor next to a pile of books, quietly reading. We all love him tons, even when he's being a Wild Mann. Less affectionately calls Manning "Cheekers" because we used to call him "chubby checkers" for like 2 seconds when he was a tiny baby and it has stuck in her mind. We think it's super cute and we are sure she will continue to call him that for a long, long time.

This post turned out longer than I anticipated... I guess that's what happens when you talk about your kids, right? I am really loving this little phase of life that we are in. It's hard, sure, but I feel like we are getting into a good groove. Good nap schedules, good structure... all good things.

I hope you all are getting ready for Fall. We are ready for a little change of pace here in the mountains. Summer has been so good to us, but so, so busy.

*Kids clothing courtesy of Gymboree. Thank you for supporting the companies that support Beautiful Effort.*

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

That Motherhood Research

Complete and total honesty here. When I was younger I didn't think much about what motherhood would be like. I knew I wanted to be a mom eventually. I knew there would be hard days. I knew it would be exhausting. I knew it would be fun. I knew I would love my kids. Turns out, every single on of those things is the biggest understatement ever.

I never knew how badly I wanted to be a mom, until we started trying and didn't get pregnant immediately. (Uh, I had spent my entire adult life trying to NOT get pregnant. Then we actually want to get pregnant and it doesn't happen at the first try? Was this some kind of sick joke?)

I had no idea that it would feel like the bad days are significantly outweighing the good days. This shiii is HARD! Like, holy crap, it's so hard! Why is it so hard? Shouldn't these yahoos come with a warning label? Mmhmm.

I had no idea how rewarding and fun it would be to raise someone who is half mine and half my favorite person's. How freaking cool is that? I never knew that I would send Matt text messages throughout the day with pictures of the kids doing something the exact way he does things (with the eye roll emoji, of course.) I never knew that I would be brought to tears by Kess sharing a toy with Manning without me asking. Or reading him a book in his room while I do the dishes. Who knew it would be so awesome to be a mom?

I knew I would love my kids. Sure! But I had zero, nada, zilch idea that I would love them way more than I love myself. Quite frankly motherhood has a way of making you not really love yourself at all - all in the name of those kids, right? I never knew that I would feel empty thinking about not having my kids. You know that feeling you get when you miss someone - like a hole in your chest? That's the feeling I get when I think about living my life without my kids. The worst.

I also had no idea that I would research more than I did in college to find answers to my parenting problems. Recent research consists of "Why won't my 15 month old sleep through the night?" "fever while teething?" "Can my cat give my toddler ringworm?" "Ringworm in toddlers." "ringworm contagious?"

Yep, you guessed it. Manning won't sleep & Kess got ringworm from our freaking cats... who are updated on their shots, too. What in the heck, you guys?! And this isn't even the whole point of this post - it's just to give you a little taste of the insanity of motherhood.

And let me tell you what... I LOVE BEING A MOM! Loooove it! I think I'm pretty dang good at it, too. But, again - not the point. The point is that when I'm knee deep in diapers, whining kids, teething, fevers, meltdowns, lunch on the floor, RINGWORM & all the snacks & shows that we can fit into one day - I'm still really happy to be a mom.

Lately I've been struggling to be a great mom and a great Kierra. You know the feeling, right? Where you want to grow as a person, but your tiny humans are essentially making that impossible.
Example: - working out for physical and mental health benefits. Real hard to get up before your kids for a sweat reset when said kids won't sleep through the night. I needs my sleeps to function. I really, really do. I can't grow as a person because I'm not sleeping. It's hard. It's so hard. I want to be a present, fit, spiritually fed mom/person. But my lack of sleep, focus, etc has me turning to social media/food/tv as an outlet or a way to "cope." That's NOT what I want at all.

Whenever I need a reminder about the importance of motherhood I think about returning to live with our Heavenly Parents again. I think about how They will hug me in my return and tell me about what a good job I did raising my kids. They will tell me that they know it was truly exhausting & sometimes heartbreaking. They will tell me how They know how I wracked my brain over sleep schedules, nutrition, fine motor skills, preschools etc. They will congratulate me for putting my kids' needs and my husbands' needs before mine own more often than not. They will tell me that MY JOB, my raising my kids was the most important job out of any other job I could have had on Earth.

I once told Matt (& he agrees with me - before you think I'm all stuck up) that my job was WAY more important than his. Sometimes I feel beneath Matt because I don't financially contribute in the way that he does. He has established a name for himself, he has a stellar career before 30 & I feel like the only name that I've created for myself is "Momomommmmmaaa."

But I had an epiphany that our Heavenly Parents will truly greet us with praise about how we raised our kids and not on how we built our worldly careers.

So for those of you who are googling solutions to your parenting woes - know this... You are such a great mom/dad. You truly care for your kids. I know it. You know it. They know it. Yes, it is hard when YOU are the center of your tiny humans' worlds. Really hard, but what you're doing is THE MOST important thing you could possibly be doing.

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Trail Run

I did it! I marked off another item off my 30 before 30 list. This one was HARD! Like I was totally undertrained. I had the endurance to run 10 miles, but not the endurance to run 10 miles with some serious elevation gain and terrain change. My body still hurts. Real bad.

But, with that being said - I am freakin' proud of myself. While I felt like I was undertrained, I definitely trained for this race! I truly don't know how people with young kids even train for any type of race over a 10k. Like really? Tell me your secrets? How do you find the time? I gotta know. I get a serious case of mom guilt every time I go out for a long run. For my last long run before the race I hired a babysitter. Seriously - probably one of the best things I've done for myself in a long time. And I'm keeping it up - another post on that later!

Ok I've had lots of training questions. You're going to hate me, but I didn't use a training schedule - I just kind of went with it and did what I had time for. I made sure that I increased mileage every week to two weeks (sometimes I just couldn't swing a long run, so I didn't sweat it.) Occasionally on a Saturday I would ask Matt to stay with the kids so I could go on a long run alone or with my friends... I think I did this twice.) And then I hired a sitter for my 8 mile before the race - as mentioned above.

Any time that I did circuits in my garage I added a running section and ran uphill on my treadmill 10.0! So hard. The inclines are where I was undertrained. I needed to work on those so much more to be prepared for this race, but I survived. I tried to workout 2-4 times a week every week leading up to the race and that helped a lot. Plus, I think the fact that I run slow helps with my endurance. HA!

The race actually came out to 11 miles in Map My Run. The first 2 miles were brutal. Lost of boulders to climb over and lots of uneven, uphill ground. Then I felt pretty ok until mile 5. That bad boy was straight uphill - all we could do was walk it. There were some swear words. There were a few people who had reached the top and were panting as they ran down the hill, saying "great job" or "keep it up" or "there's chocolate at the top!"

Once we reached the top/end of mile 5 we refueled with some chocolate, water melon, water & electrolyte water and made our way down hill. We were careful to not book it down hill, mostly because it would have been too fast and too hard on our knees. And the ground was uneven, so keeping balance was more important than speed.

My friend Becky ran it with me and we both decided to only walk when we needed to. Like if it was too rugged or too uphill. At the end we felt like we walked way more than we thought we would, but when we did walk - we truly needed to. It was a rough race. I tried to keep Matt and some friends in the loop with a quick text every few miles. The last 2.5 miles were downhill and on single tracks (mountain biking paths) and they were the funnest. We kept pace with a few other runners and it just felt good. As my Map My Run was chiming in at 10 miles I felt like it had to be way off because there was NO WAY we were close to the finish line. I was starting to feel pretty discouraged. Then we could hear the announcers at the finish line and lots of cheering. I turned out of the trees and saw Matt, Kess and Manning and a few of my friends! I wasn't sure if anyone would make it so it was SO fun to see everyone!

My friend Becky and I finished in 2 hours and 54 minutes. We stopped for about 5 minutes at the top to stretch, eat and drink. I feel really happy with that time! I would love to train more and beat that time in the future, but that's only for the sake of progress.

You better believe that I took a WM Nutrition PreWorkout before the race started. I tried my hardest to not start out too fast (which was truly impossible because it was uphill) & made sure that I stayed hydrated. At the end I ran out of water and was kind of freaking out a little Thankfully Becky had some backup!

The McCall Classic Trail Run was my favorite race that I've ever ran. The owners were super nice, everyone that ran was super nice, and I got to chat with a friend the whole way! Becky, thanks for asking me random questions and singing me songs to keep me out of my head.

50% off WM Nutrition with code "effort50"

Monday, July 16, 2018

Amazon Prime Day Favorites

It's PRIME DAY! Yay! I'll be posting my favorite deals & purchases here all day. So keep checking in! *Update* - Dang, I'm real tired of seeing the Dogs of Amazon, but now it's finally working. So here we go!

We have two of these little Echo Dots and I love that they connect to our phones through bluetooth. We often play our own playlists or from time to time we just ask Alexa to play a certain station for us! These would be a fun gift to give someone who is about to head off to college! Perfect dorm room or new apartment gift!

You guys know that I loooove my instant pot! I use it a few times a week! I actually made some hard boiled eggs an hour ago. We use it for beasts, rice, beans and eggs the most! I haven't gotten into that whole make your own yogurt thing, but I'm sure it's handy! ;) And this is a screaming deal.

These jeans have been saved in my amazon list for about a month now & I'm dying because my size (size 6/28) is only  $38.02! Killer deals for Lucky Brand Jeans!

I ordered Matt a few pairs to try out too. He is officially down to one pair of jeans and they don't look good people. They're falling apart. He rarely wears jeans so they get put on the back burner. Not today, baby! Not today!

This Anastasia Beverly Hills Brow Wiz is a no brainer! This makes life much easier if you fill your brows. I am currently using the Dip Brow, but I love the Brow Wiz. Especially if you're a beginner to the whole brow filling deal!

Kesser jeans are a must. She has skinny jeans and they're ok if they're too short, because we can roll them like they're cropped. But she needs some bootcut jeans. Something that can go over her shoes for adventures and camping. These will be perfect! They had the adjustable waist, too!

I had a friend recommend this to me because I need a steam mop. I usually stiffer my kitchen and dining area quick after meals (or I have good intentions to) but i feel like I'm just pushing the dirt and grime around with my current mop. Like I mop my little heart out and then Manning's little feet are dirty after running around. So gross. This mop is on sale (not part of prime day) and then has a coupon of $29 off on top of the sale. Originally $199. On sale for $163.99. Then an extra $29 off. Total $134.99. I'm really excited about this. I'm typing so fast right now! ;) Ok Update* This is for the all in one vacuum only, but if you buy the steam pads it adds $13 to your order - which is still less than the actual steam mop/kit. **update update. I'm not sure what's going on here. haha I bought the extra mop pads... but now I don't think I need them. I guess I'll let ya'll know Thursday when my stuff arrives haha!

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 was 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. 

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Bundled Blessings Fertility Foundation

Recently Bundled Blessings Fertility Foundation held their second annual dinner auction & it was such a huge success.

I wasn't able to attend the dinner this year (darn living far away) but I received some pictures from their event & it was so beautiful! So much effort goes into this dinner & everything goes to the most amazing cause.

The awareness of infertility has increased so much over the last decade and it makes my heart so happy that people are aware of this struggle that so many couples go through. While this hasn't been a trial of ours, I'm very close to people who have this trial. I think this would be one of the hardest things to deal with in life. In a perfect world... anyone who wanted to grow their family would be able to. 

Bundled Blessings is working their hardest to make growing families a possibility. Infertility treatments can create such a financial burden on couples and families. To be blunt - they are so expensive! This dinner auction helps applicants get a chance to win fertility treatment grants. 

Bundled Blessings puts together a beautiful dinner with fantastic speakers and a silent auction. They work diligently for almost a year before each event to get auction items donated. Let me tell you - it is no easy task. So when Bundled Blessings asked me if I could help I immediately pulled together my resources and was able to work with some of my favorite shops. 

DockATot donated one of their deluxe DockATot loungers. The Ollie World donated an Ollie Swaddle. And Binxy Baby donated their Original Shopping Cart Hammock. I have personally used each one of these items and have loved each one. You can read my review of each one here, here and here

These auction items were some of the most coveted items and helped raise money for these sweet grant applicants. Bundled Blessings was able to give out... at their second annual dinner auction. They gave out $30,000 in monetary grants, one 50% off IVF (or 3 rounds of IUI from Idaho Center of Reproductive Medicine) and one 50% off IVF from Reproductive Care Center.) That means they helped 7 couples pursue their dream of expanding their families. I can't imagine a much better gift for them!

As always, it's an honor to work with Bundled Blessings & help them pursue all the good that they strive to do!

A huge thank you to DockATot, The Ollie World & Binxy Baby. Thank you for supporting the companies that support this blog and that support Bundled Blessings Fertility Foundation.