Friday, September 23, 2016

Recipe Reviews Debut

Recently, a friend of mine began blogging and I'm loving it. She is keeping her readers informed on her newly married life--and she's mushy gushy, which is great ;-) and she is sharing about eats--recipes she and her husband make, fun date night restaurants, etc. It's been a really fun blog to add to my reading list! Anyway, she has inspired me.

I love food. And I love spending time making food in my kitchen! What I am not great at is creating recipes. But I am a gifted recipe follower ;-)

So, I've decided to {try out} adding a new series, if you will, to my blog, specifically dedicated to reviewing recipes we try.

Naturally, we share with those around us what we like--because we want them to have the same positive experience we did with _______. So, I am giving it a whirl with recipes!

This week we welcomed fall. If you know me, then you probably know I am a fall lover to my core. I love the weather, the clothes, the accessories, and the flavors {read: pumpkin}. My co-workers also have a deep appreciation for the autumn season. It has become a tradition for us to have a fall themed staff meeting the first Friday of the season. Today, we celebrated with food and coffee--per our usual.

I have been on a baked oatmeal kick ever since my friend Sonia brought some over after Brylee was born. So, I decided to bring pumpkin spice baked oatmeal to our fall kickoff staff meeting. Plus, I made the decision last minute and I had all the ingredients I needed on hand.

The original recipe can be found here. I adapted it some to meet dietary needs and desires...
I substituted:
  • coconut milk for milk
  • applesauce for oil
  • pecans for raisins
  • pumpkin pie spice for nutmeg, cloves, & ginger
I added:
Y'all.... this was GOOD. I could have eaten the entire 8x8 pan of it myself. It had a dessert feel, while being a healthy breakfast food. That is a WIN in my book! Next time, I'd maybe add another 1/2 cup pecans, another scoop of JuicePlus+ Complete and perhaps some sort of glaze. (I omitted the whipped cream topping as I am currently dairy-free.) See what I did there? NEXT TIME. Because this will now be a fall staple in our house. If you give this one a try, let me know how you like it and what you do to make it your own =)

Monday, September 19, 2016

A Change of Heart & A Little Mess

Life as a mom to two under two has serious ups and downs. Some moments I love, some moments I cry. Some days I want to relive (and often do after bedtime by looking back at photos and sharing fun highlights with Tyler), and some days I wish we could just start over. But all in all, it's a joy and it certainly is a privilege!

In the past month as a Mama of two, I have learned that:
>my oldest is very empathetic and in tune to emotions--she doesn't like when her baby sister cries (and sometimes cries with her)
>my youngest sleeps through almost anything, even toddler fingers poking her face
>my oldest likes when her sister is awake (and calm!)
>my youngest LOVES to be worn--hallelujah!
>my girls both need me, and unfortunately, sometimes simultaneously
>my two hands are often not enough
>my own strength, patience, kindness, & gentleness DOES NOT CUT IT and I desperately need Jesus to {lovingly} get through each day
>the saying "the days are long but the years are short" is totally accurate
>I am more flexible and selfless than I ever imagined I could be

And I could share more, but I won't bore you with my progress report. I do, however, want to expand on that last lesson...
I recently opened an email from iMom with this fabulousness in it. I was really challenged reading Dr. Gary Chapman's thoughts on correcting behavior. He writes,

"In a healthy family, we are seeking to correct only the kinds of behaviors that are destructive and detrimental to the child’s development. We are not trying to destroy the child’s unique expression of creativity."

And oh wow! I so often choose to correct a behavior or am quick to say NO if whatever it is will be inconvenient for me, make a mess, etc. So, taking Dr. Chapman's words to heart... One day last week, my oldest was digging in the pantry. She pulled out A TON {plastic utensils, boxes of broth, unopened mayonnaise, grocery bags, vinegar, paper plates, cups, crushed red pepper}...and stuff was EVERYWHERE. I embraced this disaster, recognizing that Peighton wasn't in any danger. I died to myself and let her discover. In doing so, I got to experience this--

Pictured above is my 20 month old baby girl setting the table--forks, plates, cups, napkins. I about fell over in amazement when I saw this! The hostess in me was thrilled to see what my daughter has picked up through observation. And she was SO proud of herself!

Sure, I had a mess to clean up that day but man was it worth it! Seeing my daughter explore gave me great joy--because she was having an absolute blast. I'm sure there will be days that I don't allow her to express her creativity fully, but I'm hopeful those days will be fewer as I continue to learn how to die to myself and let her thrive in toddlerhood.

Saturday, September 3, 2016

Date Night Doozy

I last shared about the transition my family and I were looking to go through, as we were anticipating the arrival of our second baby girl. The post was uploaded August 13 at 1pm.

About four and a half hours later, my husband and I were on our way to a nice dinner date night! The sun was bright, the air was hot, and we were ON A DATE (it'd been too long)!!

My sweet husband dropped me off at the restaurant doorstep, while he went to park--because he didn't want to make his very pregnant wife walk in the heat (good man, he is). As I looked over the menu while I waited for him, I decided on my meal... Cuban spring rolls appetizer and one of the specials--organic chicken with broccoli, potatoes, and cheddar (it had a fancy name and was served much prettier than the casserole I made it sound like, haha!). Y'all, that appetizer was THE. BOMB. Maybe it was just the pickles, but my mouth is watering as I type this. Old Man Rafferty's will be getting my business again, just for those spring rolls and desserts!! 

By about 6pm, I was having some decently intense contractions at the table. My poor husband kept having to pause our (serious) conversation and let me just writhe in pain at the table for a bit. We started timing them...and they were coming every 2-7mins and getting more intense. This is where the date night turns total doozie.... we got dessert to go, after I could barely eat my dinner. We were already down the street from the hospital, so off we went! I had just been to the doctor the day before and was told if I felt "funny" to go to the hospital--they don't seem to mess around when a pregnant woman has high blood pressure. 

At about 7pm, Tyler dropped me off and ran home to grab our hospital bag and let Peighton know we wouldn't be there in the morning. (Hello, birth of our second child, haha! I cannot imagine being dropped off by my husband during my first labor experience!) I was only slightly convinced I was in labor, and was prepared to hear "you're not in labor yet. Go home and come back when your contractions are ___ far apart or your water breaks." Kevin, a dear security guard, wheeled me up to Labor & Delivery. I got settled into a room and got all hooked up to the necessary monitors. It wasn't long after that my sweet nurse confirmed that I was in labor and would be staying and having a baby! Woohoo! And what a crazy ending to date night! While I waited for Tyler to return, I turned the Olympics on. I honestly don't remember what time he got back, but it looked like we had a long night ahead when he did. I was only between 3-4cm dilated. 

After I got an epidural (which, in my personal opinion, is one of God's most generous graces to women), the doctor(s) broke my water to get labor progressing. And boy did it ever! It seemed like just minutes I went from being dilated 4cm, to 8cm, to needing to push!! I must say... birthing a tiny human is one of the most terrifying things I have ever done. And knowing what's coming (again, second child) made it even scarier. I was convinced I couldn't do it. I was cursing Eve for bringing the curse of birth pains to us all. My nurses were cheering me on. And my hero of a husband was holding my hand, encouraging me with Truth throughout the entire process. Sounds like I needed a lot of championing, right? I did. But thankfully for us all, baby girl arrived after eleven minutes of pushing, taking her first breath at 11:14pm on August 13th. 

A healthy, full-term baby girl. Brylee Cole Stowell.

My fears of not having enough love for another baby, have proven to be irrational. Peighton seriously seems to love her new role as big sister. And our family is adjusting to life with a newborn (again) and melding as a family of four! Tyler and I are still in shock... but so thankful to the Lord for all His faithfulness, grace, and answered prayers.

Saturday, August 13, 2016

Looking to Start A New Chapter

The role I have as wife and Mama in our little family of three is about to change. Within the next week or so, we are expecting our second little girl to take her first out of the womb breath! We will soon be a family of four. I am still amazed at that reality, and praise God for His perfect timing in gifting us new life.

Similarly to my previous pregnancy with Peighton, I have experienced some complications. The reassurance I have is, "God is in control, and He is good. I've been through this before. I'v'e reached full-term. My doctors know what they're doing." But, if I'm totally honest, this pregnancy, overall has felt a lot harder (maybe because I also am taking care of a toddler!). It's led me to wonder am I built to do this again?? Needless to say, I'm quite eager for this pregnancy to wrap up as the highs are in the nineties and life just feels a whole lot more challenging while growing a tiny human!

And then, there's the whole emotional aspect of adding another little one to our family... I have enjoyed so many fun moments with my first born, sweet Peighton Louise!
My heart is a little torn at the thought of somewhere, somehow finding more love to give to another little one. I hear it's possible, but I'm currently in the "I'll believe it when I experience it" phase. Every night when I put Peighton to bed, I whisper in her ear that she'll always be my baby. Some nights, she nods or gives me a verbal "ya" in agreement. And while I am oh so very eager to snuggle our little one on the way, my heart is grieving the loss of being a Mama to one.

Peighton made Tyler and I parents. She will always be our first. She stole our hearts! Now, we've moved towards prepping her for her impending role of Big Sister and are doing all we can to prepare our own hearts to multiply our love as we look to soon welcome Baby Girl Stowell Dos!

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Platform for Success

Within the last year or so, I have given into what has been flooding my Facebook newsfeed--for what seems like forever. But for most of that forever, I was annoyed and judgmental.

Social media used for small business//sales.

Come on, I am sure you have friends who are Beachbody Coaches, LuLaRoe Consultants, small business owners (Etsy shop, etc.), Rodan + Fields Consultants, Juice+ Plus Distributors, and the like, filling your newsfeed with their products, promotions, and sales pitches. And I cannot possibly be the ONLY person who has had the thought, "Facebook is for sharing your life! I want to see pictures of your family...your LUNCH...but I'm not buying what you're selling."

And then I did it. It started, for me with a fellow Seminole High grad who had FAITHFULLY posted her fitness and health journey with Beachbody shamelessly all over her social media accounts. I saw she was offering samples of Shakeology, and because I had seen her progress, I thought trying a sample was harmless. That led to (although several months later) a commitment to a fitness accountability group and Beachbody workout program. And I was, within months, in the best shape of my life--even post-baby! Then I turned into one of those people, constantly posting about fitness and Beachbody....eeek!

Most recently, my best friend began working with LuLaRoe. This particular friend has been a faithful ministry partner since I began serving in full-time ministry in 2010. When she asked if I'd like to host an online "Pop-Up Party" again, I thought that seemed harmless enough and it would be a great way to come alongside her--after all, she'd been supportive of me for years! {Truth be told, I kind of hated what I had seen of LuLaRoe clothing up until she began selling it. And then I bought a pair of black leggings. And I have never in my life had anything so soft on my body. Now, I'm obsessed...let's just say, I had a LuLaRoe filled birthday!}

Why do I share all of this? Because these people who are posting about their products or businesses have FAMILIES and deep rooted desires to actually make a difference in the lives of others. My Beachbody Coach is a wife, mom of three, and part-time high school guidance counselor. My friend, the LuLaRoe Consultant, is a new-to-the Atlanta-area, burned out former teacher who chose LuLaRoe because of their desire to give back, as a company. These Facebook sales people are (not always, but) often times in it for way more than a quick dollar--and let's be honest, with non-supportive pessimists like us as Facebook friends, they are not making dollars very quickly.

I made a choice--after many judgmental thoughts and clicks of the unfollow button. I chose to support my friends and their endeavors. I chose to advocate for their cause--even when I may be their least profitable customer (because, my budget often says "clearance at Target" and not "handmade from Etsy"). And I want to challenge you to do the same. How can we stand with our friends who are working their tails off to make a living? How can we support the use of social media for small businesses? Maybe it's giving into trying that workout program that seems to work for everyone else "but would never work for you...." OR maybe it's committing to host a virtual party and introducing your friends to products they may like OR maybe, it's just choosing to have a positive attitude when you see your friend's post and applauding them from behind the screen rather than criticizing them.

Let's embrace social media as a platform for small business success!