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.