In Our Kitchen: Fried Quinoa!

Friday, May 30, 2014
I have Henry's year of feeding therapy to thank for my love of quinoa. Truth be told, when his therapist pronounced what it was, I had no idea that it was what I had seen 100's of time scrolling through Pinterest. My first time looking in the grocery aisle wasn't then completely unsuccessful since I had no idea "keen-wah" was "quinoa". Funny stuff.

Regardless, it's become a staple here since it's great for protein and Henry eats it. Last year at this time, we ran with ANYTHING the kid would it, and thankfully, and finally, it was something uber healthy.

This is probably my favorite way to make it. Please note, we love having leftovers for the next day, so this makes a TON. Like enough for all of us to eat for two dinners and me for 1-2 lunches. If you don't want that much, you may want to half these quantities.

-4-5 cups of cooked quinoa (follow package instructions)
-1 bag of frozen mixed vegetables
-another (approximately) 1/2 bag of your favorite frozen veggie (we used corn this night, but you can use whatever you like).
-1 white onion diced
-5 eggs (or 4 egg whites and 1 egg for an even healthier option)
-1 tablespoon of sesame oil
-approximately 1/4 cup of reduced sodium soy sauce (I recommend starting with 2-3 tablespoons for this big batch and adding more to taste if you'd like)
-salt and pepper


1. Cook quinoa according to package directions.You'll need 2-2.5 cups of uncooked qunioa to yield the 4-5 cups cooked. (Takes about 30 minutes).
2. While the quinoa is cooking, chop up your onion and scramble up your eggs.
3. Once quinoa is finished, heat sesame oil in the wok.
4. Fry up onions until tender and remove from wok.
5. Cook eggs and break apart as they cook and remove from wok.
6. Through your choice of frozen vegetables in and cook until tender/heated through.
7. Add onions, eggs, and quinoa and mix well.
8. Slowly add soy sauce in to taste and serve!

So really, you can use whatever veggies you want (fresh or frozen for that matter). We use frozen for convenience and to keep it at a quick meal. Once your quinoa is done, this meal is ready in about 10-15 minutes tops.

In Our Kitchen: Grilled Sweet and Fiery Pork with Mango Salsa (skinnytaste adaptation)

Wednesday, May 21, 2014
Another recipe is up! Who's excited I'm actually keeping up with this?!?!

I'm just excited that we/I know how to cook now. Couldn't have said that 7 years ago when we got married. 7?! Our anniversary is on Monday. Whoa.

Anyway, this was our adaptation of skinnytaste's Sweet and Fiery Pork Tenderloin. As much as I LOVE my crockpot, beautiful weather calls for the grill and outdoor eating. I believe Ryan used all ingredients listed, and just rubbed the pork with the spices and then slathered the sauce on once he had the meat on the grill. Grill pork to internal temp of 145.

Seriously, I can't get enough of her mango salsa stuff. So yummy! We paired this with rice but next time around I'll do some asparagus or other grilled veggie.

And that drink there in the back?! That's the "pineapple bomb" I've been raving about on facebook.

Look for that recipe in a few days after I have Ryan make me another one so I can photograph it :) :) :) Perfect excuse to drink.

The evolution of my motherhood.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014
This blog goes way back to before I was a mother. It, like many other mommy blogs out there was created because I was pregnant and thought everyone needed to know all about it. Looking back on that simple fact, it seems a bit silly, but I'm SOOOO thankful, that for whatever the reasons this blog came to be, that I have it today. I may go through spurts where I update frequently or not at all, but I'm sure glad that what's here IS here to look back on.

That being said, in my five short years as mother, I've certainly evolved.

My pregnancy with Henry didn't start out so hot. I spotted often which lead to numerous early ultrasounds and the discovery of Henry's twin. I never got to hold that baby. I had been pregnant for what felt like 5 seconds, and already my heart was ripped out of my chest.

This girl, 2 months into her first real grown up job, thought she had a baby bump here with Henry at 11 weeks. I may have, at this point, worked with kids for the better part of my "adult" life, but I had no idea, no idea at all what was in store for us. We were your typical first time parents, researching all the best baby gear, buying all the books and totally "preparing" ourselves for this big life change. You might be able to prepare yourself with all the material stuff, but nothing can really prepare you for what life with children is going to be like, because basically, it's on the job training, all.the.time.
Henry bump 11 weeks
And then that first baby was placed in my arms after a birth experience I didn't dream up and my entire world changed in that split second. I was a mother. I was a "boy mama". We created and I grew and birthed this beautiful baby. It's was a miracle, emotional, magical, exhausting, all of it. When it's your first baby, the entire experience is so surreal.

Back then, our financial situation forced me back at work while I sent Henry off to a home day care, sobbing and kicking and screaming (me, not him) the whole way to work after the first few drop offs. I didn't know it before he was here, but after he was, I knew I wanted to be at home. 2 months of motherhood had already changed and molded me. 

Henry was our entire world. There are pictures and blogs to easily prove that. This little man got 100% of mommy and daddy's attention all the time. We documented every milestone, step, word and giggle with pictures and videos, very typical of first time parents. Everything was such a big deal. The first cereal, the first time at the park, the first Santa visit, the first EVERYTHING, as, not only was it firsts for Henry, it was all firsts for us as parents. 

On my first mother's day post (along with some awful and unnecessary watermarks), I wrote that Henry had "totally redefined" my purpose in life. And it's true. And back then, I didn't even know exactly how much "redefining" there would be. That girl in that picture with the baby bloat at 11 weeks didn't know a thing. I had no idea what kind of mother I would be, or how it would truly change my life and fill my heart. 

My first official mother's day, 2010.

And then I learned that time passes too quickly and I'm staring at a toddler who's no longer a baby. And I loved this baby-now-turned-toddler with all my being and decided that I wanted another. You totally forget about the uncomfortable-ness of mid to late pregnancy and the trauma of birth. Only, my body had other plans and forced me into a horrific emotional miscarriage experience. It made me question my ability to have the number of children we wanted but also to appreciate what we did have.

1 month post miscarriage on my 26th birthday, I wished with all my might for a healthy 3rd pregnancy and a sibling for Henry. 

Our first daughter was set to arrive about 38 weeks later. :)  I spent a lot of my second pregnancy soaking up as much of Henry's "only childhood" as we could. Because, surely, adding a newborn girl was going to rock all of our worlds. 

My second mother's day, 2011.

 She came out screaming in a much more planned and relaxing birth experience. Claire's arrival meant I was staying home for good. I took a leave of absence from school that year with no intention of going back.

As a mother of two, I finally was where I wanted to be, at home. Only, just as before, when I had no idea what it would be like to be a mother before Henry's arrival, I had no idea what it would be like to actually be home before I was there. 

I won't lie. It was hard at first. Sometimes it was puppies and rainbows, but other times, it definitely wasn't. Sure, I had this baby stuff in the bag because we already had done it, but the big one was growing too, and that toddler stuff, yeah. That was new.

While I had worked full time, I was not only Henry's mother, I was a teacher to a near 80 kids each day. My life had another purpose outside the walls of our home. Now that I was home, I felt like I had lost that part of me, and in what I think is a normal part of the transition, I felt a little emptiness with that in my early days as a stay at home mom.  And as I also think is fairly common, going from 1-2 kids, I felt a little remorse for rocking my only's world like that. Things were easy and routine before and now we threw a newborn into the mix and we all know how fun nursing a newborn around the clock is while simultaneously trying to entertain a toddler around the clock. It's hard stuff, folks. 

But as Claire quickly changed, as all babies do, I realized how amazing it was that I COULD be there this time and was so grateful to be there to witness it all and be the one to teach Henry his ABC's, 123's and everything in between. And to, of course, take moderately decent pictures of them everyday. 

Shortly after the above picture was taken, I had written a post titled "What nobody tells you."--here's an excerpt:: 

...Nobody really articulates into words how bringing children into this world completes pieces of your heart and soul that you didn't even know were missing. Nobody tells you how no matter how insanely difficult the day was, and how desperate you were for the clock to tick faster to bedtime, 5 minutes after saying goodnight, you already miss those little faces....Being a mother is hard work, that is for sure. Yes, some days are hard, but it's the hard times that challenge us to reflect, learn, and grow to be better.

Looking at your children and seeing reflections of yourself and your very best friend in them (both the good and the bad, and everything in between) and watching them grow into the people you hope to shape them to be is more rewarding than can even be put into words. Nobody tells you that either. 

I really love this mother stuff... 

Clearly, my heart was full. We had hard days, I know, but those words remain true even today. I still miss their faces the second I close the door. 

3rd Mother's Day, 2012
As your children grow, your worries change and grow. I went from worrying about how much Henry pooped in a day as a brand new mother to why he wasn't wanting to be social or eat mac and cheese at the age of 2. Like I said waaay up top, it's basically on the job training all the time. You never know what you're going to get. Kids change every day and what I've learned recently is that you have to constantly change your parenting with them and for them to be successful. 

I remember thinking at this time that I was ready for number 3 when Claire was still fairly young. It was so awesome to see them interact as siblings and I was ready to throw another one into the mix. Only, as was apparently an exercise in repeating horrific experiences, I had to sob uncontrollably in an ultrasound room again, for a 3rd time, a few weeks before the above picture was taken. This miscarriage shook me a little more. I didn't want it to happen again. I didn't want to go through it again. Maybe we should stop and be happy with one of each. I literally had brief moments of wanting to never try again just so I didn't have to hurt again. We had the best of both worlds in a girl and a boy and two happy and healthy kids. Ryan wasn't on board with that decision, thankfully. 

Immediately following that, I was distracted by our pretty big life changing decision to move across the country. While terrifying and exciting all at the same time (mostly because I wouldn't know how isolated I would feel being a stay at home mom in a new place) it was the best thing for our family's future and the kids' future in the long run. 

Only, we weren't moving just the two kids, we were technically moving three. :)

4th Mother's Day, 2013

I was blessed with easy pregnancies. I had your average "omg, I'm SOOOO uncomfortable" from weeks 30+, but for the most part, they were easy. Somehow, while pregnant with Norah, despite my smooth sailing pregnancies, I knew this was it. We didn't permanently decide until after she was here, but we knew she would be our last child. Had I not experienced 3 miscarriages, maybe this decision would have been different. Similarly, had Henry's birth not been via an "almost" emergency c-section that would lead me to 2 future c-sections, this decision may have been different. Or, maybe the fact that we didn't exactly intend for me to be largely pregnant smack dab in the middle of a Texas summer. That too. :) We originally wanted 4, but once she was here, we knew we'd stop at 3.

Basically nothing can compare to hearing the first cries.

These moments. I'll remember forever. I remember being SOO anxious and so excited to hold all three kids at the same time. I remember feeling so overcome with emotion, knowing that we were finally all here together. 3 healthy children. 2 older siblings that were going crazy over their littlest sister. No more worries over pregnancy. No more miscarriages. No more hurt. We were a complete family. 

A lot has changed in my five short years of motherhood, obviously. And I'm no longer the naive 23 year old I was and know that things will continue to change as we all grow older. We have none of this forever. Even the poopy diapers won't be here forever (I just need to keep reminding myself that every time Claire runs down the hall screaming when it's time to change!) 

Life with three is kind of chaos half the time. (at least). Thankfully we were blessed with a third easy baby and she just fits right into all the chaos. However, now that she's a bit mobile, she's the main cause of chaos a lot of the time (ask me how many times I've pulled choking hazards out of her mouth recently!) As with most stay at home moms, my days are spent doing many of the same routine things over and over. Making food, cleaning up food, wiping boogers and butts, eating cold food, running the washing machine for the 3rd time (with the same clothes in it), and barely getting a moment to pee while at the same time looking around the house and wondering what you did all day. 

Through the monotonous of it all come the real gems of parenting that fill your heart even though you swear it couldn't swell any larger. Claire asking her daddy to literally "reach the moon" for her or telling me "she's going to go up a ladder on top of a cloud to dance like a princess with daddy." Or Henry reading books to me and telling me over and over "I'm the best mommy there ever was and he loves me so much". Or Norah being completely overcome with giggles when I walk in the door from being gone for a bit. The kids running down the hall and screaming "daddy's home!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!". And watching the three of them play together and love and snuggle on each other. All of it. I wouldn't trade it for anything, even if it means a little crying and screaming in between. 

As crazy as the days get, I'm still thankful for them. I'm thankful for the good times and the hard times, because I know the hard times are changing me and pushing me to be better. And I know the good times will mold and change into different good times as time goes on. 

Having children changed my life. Not only for the obvious reasons, but through the course of having these three, my life changed. I dropped the teacher title and now own a pretty successful photography business (something so totally out of the realm of my thinking 6+ years ago that had you told me back then, I would have said you've got the wrong girl!). 

I couldn't be happier with the person and mother these littles have shaped me to be. Or how they've completely enriched my relationship with their daddy. Because, seriously, there's nothing like watching your hottie husband being an awesome father.  

I love them to the moon and back. And then some. 

And I love that I'm blessed to be their mother. 

5th Mother's Day, 2014

In Our Kitchen:: Skinnytaste's Slow Cooked Jerk Pork w/ Caribbean Salsa

Sunday, May 4, 2014
I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE this one. This one made me completely fall in love with mangoes, avocados and pork. At least this kind of pork. There's a running joke that I actually hate pork and don't eat it. But actually, I just have an aversion to dried out pork chops (we won't name any certain cooks here, though!). I thoroughly enjoy most other types of pork (especially now that I know what real BBQ is here in TX), and this one is no exception.

Any recipe that utilizes the crockpot is a win in my book. I'm a happy mama if all I have to do is take 20 minutes to throw something together in the crockpot mid morning and then simply set the table during "mama witching hour", (if you don't know what this is, you likely don't have kids).

We will be making this one again and again. The only modifications I had to make were cooking it faster (about 5-6 hours instead of the 9) and not marinating overnight. Because, honestly, I can never remember that kind of stuff, or actually remember to even read ahead and know that I should be doing certain things. Oh, and I didn't use the seasoning she linked, but just the McCormick brand jerk seasoning I had on hand.

Either way, it's still a big win. Love it and it's easy and delicious. 265 calories pictured on the plate. Can serve over rice if you'd like for more calories.

See it here:: Skinnytaste's Slow Cooked Jerk Pork w/Caribbean Salsa

Baby Norah at 9 months!

Friday, May 2, 2014
I TOTALLY dropped the ball on this little lady the past two months. The 7th and 8th month updates were missed, and the photos not taken any where near on time. Making up for it now sweet girl!

At 9 months Norah is::

-waving hi/bye (mostly just hi, and it JUST started)
-still content on army crawling, but we've seen a few glimmers of getting on her knees.
-pulling herself up to her knees in her crib and favorite floor toy
-starting to HATE being contained. this girl wants to move!
-4 bottles/day
-2 naps/day
-loving real food: cheerios, bananas, avocado, strawberries, turkey, french fries, bread, yogurt, basically anything that can be chopped super small and/or mashable
-LOVES being around big brother and sister. Henry makes her laugh the best
-favorite things include everything she shouldn't have. henry toys, little pieces of grass/woodchips the dogs bring in and the stupid little white part to the door stoppers.
-happy, happy baby (except when mommy's in a dressing room. then she screams. almost every time. true story).
-still has a blocked tear duct in her right eye. it is usually pretty gross looking. and she hates getting it wiped. will reassess at her next dr. visit
-probably a good 20+ pounds.
-8 teeth (4 on top, 4 on bottom)
-lots of shrieking and grunting. no dada or mama yet.
-diaper change and clothing changes are almost a two person job lately. she's got things to do!
-gets excited when we facetime people
-loves cuddles
-loves sleep
-we love her.

As every month passes, I slowly sort of understand how the "babies" of families get "babied". i don't want to let this stage go.

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