Sunday, November 30, 2014

Festive Pomegranate Salad with Sweet and Tangy Balsamic Vinaigrette

How was your Thanksgiving?? We had two grand celebrations. Brandon's sister and her family hosted Thanksgiving for the first time. She knocked it out of the park with the biggest turkey I've ever seen--perfectly browned, stuffed with beautiful pockets of Rosemary, and overflowing with moist stuffing. I'm afraid we could barely make a dent in the bird after we all filled up on the bbq ribs they grilled up as an appetizer. Joe can put away some ribs! He kept running back and forth from the football game to the kitchen to beg for more ribs. That boy is all man. Your average Joe--give him some meat, potatoes, and football and he's set!  

Friday we picked out a Christmas tree, lit the first fire of the season, and roasted s'mores. Yum yum! Caleb said it was the best day ever. He and Kai say that about a lot of days and they are right every time! 

On Saturday we geared up for Thanksgiving Round 2 with my family. My mom baked up a storm of dishes including her famous Cajun stuffing. Dad carved up the turkey in his infamous hand sewn camo chef hat....

Welcome to the South, my friends.

 My favorite part was that both of my dad's brothers were able to come this year and brought our cousins with them. I love hearing my dad and uncles reminisce about their childhood together-- especially since I have three boys of my own growing up together!

I hope you had a beautiful Thanksgiving enjoying old traditions or starting new ones. Now....onto that salad! Somehow I managed to escape any real cooking this Thanksgiving. I bought premade pies from the grocery store and whipped up this salad.  It looks cheery with the bright pomegranate seeds, tastes delicious, and is really easy to toss together! Hope you enjoy it too! I brought it as a side dish this time, but it's also great as a lunch if you beef it up with some nuts, granola, chicken, or even crumbled bacon!  (Go for the bacon. OMG. So good!)

For the Salad:
20 oz of Salad (give or take)
2 Pears
1 Pomegranate
2 oz Goat Cheese

For the Dressing:
1/3 cup balsamic vinegar
2/3 cup olive oil
1 tsp mustard
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp onion powder
1/4 tsp pepper
1/4 tsp salt 
1 1/2 tsp honey or brown sugar

Prepare the salad by dicing the 2 pears over the salad. Sprinkle with goat cheese and pomegranate seeds. I've found that the easiest way to remove the seeds from the pomegranate is by submerging the fruit underwater in my salad spinner. Cut the fruit in half and then use your hands to peel the seeds away from the flesh. The water keeps red juice from splattering all over your kitchen and also helps you separate the white flesh from the seeds. The seeds sink to the bottom and the white flesh floats on top of the water. Just skim the white bits off the top of the water and then drain the water. I received a couple questions about whether or not the seeds are edible. Yes! They are not only edible, but they are packed with antioxidants. They're great for you and they taste amazing--juicy and crunchy all in one bite!

After preparing the salad, mix all the dressing ingredients in a jar with a lid. Give it a good shake and you're ready to get your healthy (or not so healthy) party on!

Monday, November 17, 2014

Blue or Pink?!?

Today was the big day!!!

It was cold and rainy, but I was walking on sunshine. 

Nana and my niece, Lily, came over to watch the boys while Brandon and I went in for the ultrasound. We were advised to see a perinatologist because we have a history of congenital defects. I had to keep reminding myself not to worry because we have a history of miracles too!

First we got the best news of all--our baby looks 100% healthy!!!!

Then our jaws dropped as we realized we were looking at our very first DAUGHTER!!!

Crazy, right!?!? I am beyond excited!!! There are not enough exclamation points in the world for me today!!!!!!!!!!

I thought we would pick up some pink balloons and wrap them in a box for the kids to open at home. I imagined this adorable photo of pink balloons flying up in the air and all the kids jumping for joy--just like pinterest, right?!

I failed to realize just how strongly Kai had his little heart set on having another baby brother. All of the pink balloon pictures include Kai having a fit on the floor! lol! I'm so happy Lily was there to be excited with me!! Have you ever had a scene worked out just-so in your mind only to have it turn out completely different?? 

Don't worry, Baby Girl, he'll be in love with you soon enough! I can't wait to have you in my arms and all settled into your pink nursery!!! 

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Bruh, Do You Even Lift?

Or nah?

Cuz, Bae--just being real wit you-- my game has not been on fleek these days.

Ok, I'll stop, but have you read this? Too funny.

Anyways, I've been feeling burnt out this week. Now that I'm feeling better I've been slowly trying to catch up on house cleaning and my social life. I even started cooking last week!

It was fun, but then I burnt out. It's all more than I can keep up with. I had a revelation about it this morning. Actually, I inspired myself when I revisited this old post of mine. I hope you guys didn't think I blog for you. I blog because I'm forgetful and I have to remind myself!!

I burnt out because I started backwards.


When I felt better I started picking everything back up but my time with God. I told you in my last post that I had been depressed and had trouble picking up my Bible. Well, today I picked it back up.

I let the laundry sit unfolded on the couch. I let emails and texts wait a minute. I let the children run around wild (as usual). I sat down and spent half an hour praying through my Bible.

I took a minute to lift my soul to God before I lifted my hands to work.

You see, that hunger for God that comes naturally in difficult times must be maintained by discipline in the good times. Trials reveal how weak we really are and how desperately we need Jesus. Once the good times return, I'm quick to bury my need underneath a cover of productivity and business. I don't want to stay exposed and vulnerable, but I must if I want to be changed. I must if I want to see God and become more like Him.

Today, I started over. I don't need a clean house or a full plate, but I need God.

I wasn't sure where to start, but I ended up in Psalm 119 and, of course, it spoke right to my soul. It was all about having a hunger for God's word. It was about seeking God's face in the night and the day. It was about God using a time of affliction to teach a man to seek Him.

If you've been neglecting your soul too, will you start over with me today?

or nah? ;)

"How can a young person stay on the path of purity? 
By living according to Your word. I seek You with all my heart (9-10a). 

Turn my heart toward Your statutes and not toward selfish gain. Turn my eyes away from worthless things (36 and 37a).  

The earth is filled with Your love, Lord (64a). 

You are good and what You do is good (68a).

 It was good for me to be afflicted so that I might learn Your decrees (71). I know, Lord, that Your laws are righteous, and that in faithfulness You have afflicted me. May Your unfailing love be my comfort, according to Your promise to Your servant. (75-76)

 The unfolding of Your words gives light; it gives understanding to the simple (130). I rise before dawn and cry for help...My eyes stay open through the watches of the night, that I may meditate on Your promises 147-148) 

I have strayed like a lost sheep. Seek Your servant, for I have not forgotten Your commands (175). " Psalm 119 NIV

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Surviving Nausea and Vomiting in Pregnancy (And Ginger is NOT on theList!)

You guys, I am feeling better!! I know it sounds completely normal for me to say that in the second trimester, but it is NOT normal for me. It is a miracle for me. I was ill for all 9 months of my three previous pregnancies. Many people prayed for me and God answered our prayers. I am not back to normal yet, but if I take my Unisom and B6 consistently, rest enough, and eat a little every hour then I can keep all my meals down most days. I am so thankful to be out of bed and taking care of my family again.

While the season of sickness is still fresh on my mind, I want to write down what I would share with someone else going through it. I say Nausea and Vomiting in Pregnancy instead of morning sickness because it was relentless morning, noon, and night. My first pregnancy I had hyperemesis gravidarum, but thankfully these last three have been something more in between that and "normal" NVP. I managed to stay out of the hospital, but keeping any food down and getting out of bed was a challenge. My advice is for coping with nausea and vomiting, not curing it, because nothing except patience and prayer cured me.  I feel like an expert on this whole puking business by now so here you go from a four time NVP survivor:

1. Learn to Smile and Nod
You will soon realize that everyone around you is full of tips and strange things you should try that will "cure" you. Don't sweat it. Just think of it as practice. Now that you are a parent, complete strangers in the grocery store will feel free to give you their advice and opinions all the time. You may as well get used to it now and learn to smile, nod, and move on. Ginger, peppermint, small meals, crackers, sea bands, preggie pops, more protein, more magnesium, vitamin B6, Zofran, Phenergan, Diclegis--I've tried it all!! The majority of people offer advice because they really want to help you. Remember the good intentions. Smile and nod and don't be afraid to try some of those crazy suggestions because you never know when they might work. I gave Unisom a shot this time and--what do you know--it really helped. The friend who told me that nonalcoholic beer with a squeeze of lime is way better than ginger ale--she was right on.


Check with your doctor to make sure it's safe and then give it a whirl. When you do find those rare gems who offer help as readily as they offer advice, hold on to them and never let them go!

*Note: If you are suffering from hyperemesis gravidarum, you are exempt from this tip and I give you permission--right after you go puke again--to word slap anyone who mentions the word ginger to you.

2. Throw Out That Guilt
You cannot expect yourself to do what you used to do. You are sick and you need to extend yourself some grace. I will just be honest with you about where I was and hope that will free you up to be honest with yourself.

My bathroom looked like horror movie meets country gas station toilet--gross, gross, gross. I was not able to clean it, only stick my face in it over and over again. Did I mention I have three little boys?! That is an instant recipe for a nasty bathroom. When my mother in law saw it she--like the angel she is-- threw on some gloves and cleaned it for me while I lay in bed. I know it's hard, but let people help you!! I could have cried happy tears the next time I put my face in that toilet and it was clean again!

I didn't cook.  I didn't step foot in a grocery store. I couldn't go to church and turned down any social events outside of family gatherings.

I stopped homeschooling and put my son in a private Kindergarten program. On more difficult mornings I sent him into school with bed hair and shorts that were way too short because I hadn't run his laundry. This is not the time to be Pinterest Super Mom!!

Let's not even talk about keeping down prenatal vitamins.

The most difficult times were those when I felt like I was letting down my husband or my children. It's awful to feel like you are disappointing people that you love dearly. Whether or not their disappointment is directed at you, it is not your fault. It is the fault of illness. Just as you will all share in the joy of a new baby, you must all share in the difficulty of the pregnancy. Just as you must learn to cope with your new normal, the rest of the family must learn to cope with your new normal. It's a journey and you have to forgive each other and yourself!!

3. Find Your Way to Gratitude
You are expecting a beautiful little bundle of squishy baby joy in a few months. That alone is reason to be grateful, but--hey--I get it. That is months away and TODAY you feel miserable. You need something to look forward to today. Find the little things that are beautiful today and hold on to them tightly. You may have to find something new to love while the old things (i.e. eating, cooking, and anything involving physical activity) you enjoyed are not enjoyable at the moment.

I have a tradition of having an Anne marathon in the first trimester. In the past I watched Anne of Green Gables and the sequels, but this time I listened to all the books on audiotape. It's a time splurge for me and helps me get my mind from "I feel awful," to "I love this part!!" .  If you have small children like I do then you can listen to an audiobook while you keep an eye on them. Most classics are free online in audiobook format.

I also watched too many stupid, funny videos floating around the internet. Sometimes you just need to laugh!

4. Stay Lit

The physical difficulty of the last couple months combined with all those crazy pregnancy hormones brought me into an emotionally dark place.  Some days I felt like hopelessness was trying to wrap around me like a blanket and smother me right out. God has never been so quiet in trials as He was this time.  When I was quiet the negative feelings were so loud that it was difficult to hear Him. I could hardly pray or open my Bible, but I think that I was seeking God in the most real way. I was in the place where religion falls aside and you find out who you really are and who God really is to you.

There were two words that my spirit kept hearing in whispers. The first was, "The joy of the Lord is your strength." It kept striking me that God is joyful. If I could see past the clouds of depression then God's face would be there and it would be a happy, laughing face. I knew if I could just see that face, then I would be joyful too. I was desperate to see it.  Tears were streaming down my face one night as I told Brandon how much it hurt to need to see God's face and not see it. The night may be long, my friends, but joy comes in the morning and he who seeks will find.

The other word that I heard was this: The only thing that a candle needs to do when it is surrounded by the darkest night is stay lit.
Let your heart stay in the fire of God's love. He loves you when you're sick. He loves you when you don't meet other people's expectations. He loves you when you don't meet your own expectations. He loves you when you are depressed.  The depth of your weakness is no match for the depth of His strength.  When the night is too long and you don't see the morning coming, just stay right where you are and persevere. Stay in the love of God. Stay in the place of sacrifice--loving and serving your family. Keep doing the right thing even if it makes your life feel all wrong and dark for a time. Stay lit until the sun rises.

The sun rises and the day is beautiful