Cheesy Chicken Pasta (HEALTHY)

I love to eat healthy. My husband? Not so much. He’s a lover of all things considered “junk food.” So there’s an almost daily struggle when it comes to making dinner of trying to find a balance between “comfort food” and “healthy.” So my objective when it comes to this is to create dishes that he thinks are just good ‘ol southern comfort food but that are actually secretly healthy for us. Enter tonight’s dinner. It was SO delicious that Adam raved about to his brothers (a true sign of a good meal coming from a guy perspective, in my opinion) and Marshall even ate the chicken and bacon out of it over his chicken nuggets. WIN.

So if you’re looking for an easy, one pan dinner, chalk full of protein, veggies, and healthy fats, this is for you!! Hope you enjoy! Let me know if you make it and what your thoughts are.

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To preface this recipe, I don’t really have measurements because I just eyeballed it and made enough for us for dinner tonight and lunch tomorrow. I will do my best guess at measurements, but this is an easy dish to customize to your specific needs. The recipe below serves 4.

 

INGREDIENTS:

Boneless, skinless chicken tenders—I used 6

Seasoning of your choice for chicken—I used salt, pepper, garlic powder, and onion powder

1 bunch of kale, destemmed and cut into bite sized pieces

1lb of bacon

1 TBS sour cream or plain Greek yogurt

0.5-1 cup of milk (I used whole because that’s what I have on hand)

Parmesan cheese

Noodles of your choice—I used zucchini noodles

 

HOW TO:

  1. Cut the bacon into bite sized pieces and cook in a large Dutch oven style pan on medium-high heat. Stir frequently so the pieces don’t burn on the bottom of your pan. While the bacon is cooking, season your chicken tenders to your taste. Once bacon bits are done, remove bacon from pan and let rest on a paper towel lined plate. Keep bacon fat in pan.
  2. When the bacon is done, place chicken tenders in pan directly in the leftover bacon fat. This is going to give your chicken a lot of good flavor. Cook for approximately 4 minutes each side, or until done. When chicken is done, remove from pan and place on a cutting board.
  3. Remove all but one tablespoon of the bacon fat. Add kale to remaining bacon fat and stir together well. Place lid on pan and steam kale for 5-6 minutes or until mostly wilted. While kale is cooking, cut chicken into bite sized pieces. When kale is done, remove from pan.
  4. In a separate pan, sauté your zucchini noodles in a tiny bit of olive oil and season to your liking. Sauté for 4-5 minutes until done. Set aside.
  5. At this point you should have a good amount of “char” to the bottom of your original pan. This is the secret to this dish. That “char” is FULL of flavor. So directly to the hot pan, add about 1 TBS sour cream. Add whole milk until you get the consistency that you are trying to achieve. Then add parmesan cheese to your liking. This should create a white sauce. And be sure to scrape the bottom of your pan to get all that good flavor up in your sauce.
  6. Once you have the amount of sauce you want at the consistency you want it, add chicken, most of the bacon, sautéed kale, and noodles to your sauce. Stir to combine. Your end result should be a chicken ,kale, and noodles covered lightly in a cheesy, creamy sauce. Top with remaining bacon pits and sprinkle of parmesan. Serve immediately.

 

So again, this is easy to make to your liking. If you want more sauce, double the sauce recipe. If you wanna use different noodles, go for it! Just be careful to burn the bottom of your pan because that’s where all your flavor is. Don’t be afraid to turn the heat down as needed while cooking, so that your sauce doesn’t burn. Enjoy!!!!


Hawaii Recap.

Hey everybody!! I am so sorry it’s been so long since I last blogged. Life just got away from me with work, school, family life, etc. I know it’s been a while, but I hope to come at you with regular posts from here on out!!

So we just got back from HAWAII. Adam and I were lucky enough to get away for an entire WEEK thanks to my parents and our friends who graciously helped with Marshall and Beau. Adam and I never really took a honeymoon, I mean we did get away for a bit after our wedding, but we didn’t get to go on an extravagant trip (because we were “broke as a joke”) or get away for too long because “the Army called.” Hahaha. So four years and one baby later, this was WELL overdue.

Adam and I have both always wanted to go to Hawaii. It’s been a bucket list item of ours for a while. But last October we really started talking about it. Although, as soon as the planning phase began, we both felt a little lost. Which island do we go to? How can we get the best airfare? Where should we stay? Insert our travel planner-now friend Kelley. I’m going to post more about her and her amazing business later, but she definitely made this trip a breeze! So ultimately, we decided on Big Island! We had some friends that had been to Big Island before and we were told if we wanted the “true Hawaii experience” that Big Island was the way to go. After talking to a lot of locals during our trip, they all said the same thing. Basically, that if you wanted to experience Hawaii, go to Big Island. If you wanted just a super nice tropical vacation, go to any of the other islands. We knew ultimately that we didn’t want to go to Oahu and Honolulu because we did not want to be part of the tourist scene, so we took a leap of faith on Big Island and it turned out to be PERFECT. I’ll recap our trip here! I also shared a bunch of pictures on my Facebook! Hope you enjoy!

Our flight into San Francisco from Austin was a little bit crazy in that we circled the San Francisco airport in the air for about an hour and half due to some nasty weather in SanFran. We then got delayed another three hours in our flight from SanFran to Kona. We were originally supposed to get to Hawaii at 2pm, but we didn’t get there till around 6pm. But the good news was we got there safe and sound! The airport in Kona is crazy cool. It consists of about 10 tikihut type buildings, all outdoors and open to air. When you get off the plane, there’s no connecter walkway to the airport, you legitimately step off the airplane onto some stairs, and then on to the tarmac.  We rented an awesome Jeep Wrangler for the week, so once we got our bags and our rental car, we were off to the resort!

Big Island was not AT ALL what I was expecting. I knew it would be rocky and volcanic, but I was not expecting what I saw. The road from the airport to the hotel was literally in the middle of huge rocks. On both sides of the road, there were rocks and boulders that were created from past lava flow on the island! It was so crazy to experience that—and you could really see how the lava flowed and how it dried on the land. Past the rocks, on one side of the island was the ocean and on the other side was a mountain. Talk about a crazy view. Once we got to our resort, it was more of a tropical feel! Our resort had a lagoon that opened up into the ocean, but it was a nice white sand beach where you could kick back and relax. The lagoon also had some amazing snorkeling! We were within arm’s reach of sea turtles and all kinds of tropical fish. Most of the beaches on big island are rocky and hard to access, so it was nice that our hotel had this option where we could enjoy the Pacific Ocean with easy access.

We went to a couple different beach access spots. Hapuna Beach state park is ranked as one of the world’s most gorgeous beaches and there’s good reason for it. The sand is perfectly white and almost soft under your feet. The ocean is crystal clear blue, and the views surrounding the beach are amazing. We also went to Punalu’u Beach that is a black sand beach. The sand is still soft and fine, but its black. Also, at that beach, we saw a sea turtle just lying on the sand!! We also went to some more rocky beach areas. It was so cool to see all the different landscapes that Hawaii had to offer.

Prior to leaving, we had booked some excursions through our travel agent, but when we got to Hawaii, it was raining, and it continued to do so for the first three days we were there, so some of our excursions were either canceled or rescheduled to the end of the week. So, with the beginning of our week now free, and rain on our side of the island, we packed up and headed out for a day trip to the other side of Big Island, known for being the “tropical side of the island.” We stopped at Waipio Lookout, Laupahoehoe Point Beach Park, and ‘Akaka Falls. These three places were recommended to us by the sweetest old man who owned a tiny little café that we happened to stop into. Thankfully we met him, and thankfully he recommended these places to us because we would have been lost without his guidance. During our little road trip on the other side of the island were able to see the most beautiful, lush, tropical scenery. Everything was so green and covered in color due to the large number of flowers that grow on the trees. Also, while we were over there, we came across the cutest little fruit stand that was run by some locals and we got to try native papaya, pineapple, and this crazy new (to me) fruit called ranbutan. It is basically like a hard-shelled seeded grape, but it was AMAZING and I’m so desperately hoping I can find some here.

On our third day out there, the sun finally came up! We were able to do all kinds of swimming, snorkeling, and relaxing at the resort! That night we also watched the sunset from our resort and it was seriously one of the most beautiful things I have ever seen. Because the sun came up for the rest of our trip, we were able to do our previously planned excursions. We got to go out in the ocean on a boat and go snorkeling and got to go kayaking in some sea caves! We also attended a luau at our resort and got a seaside massage! During our snorkeling excursion we were able to see dolphins (that literally came right up to the boat), some hammerhead sharks, and even a humpback whale!! Apparently, it is super rare to see those three things on one outing, especially at this time of year! We felt really blessed to see and experience that! The kayaking was so fun as well! Neither one of us had ever kayaked in the open ocean, but our guide said we were pros and even offered us a job on the spot when we saw that we could get in-and-out of a kayak, in the ocean waves, without tipping it. HA! During our kayak adventure we got to kayak into a sea cave, which is basically a cave formed out of the rock that the ocean has begun to flow into. It goes about two miles back, but we only kayaked in and kayaked out due to strong currents. Our luau was so fun! We got to experience a true Hawaiian buffet and a couple hours worth of dancing and entertainment that took us thru all the different “legends of Hawaii!” We also got massages and the massage was one of the best massages I have EVER had, and it was right on the ocean, so we got to listen to the waves crash for 75 minutes of pure bliss. Easily could have been my favorite part.

The food during our trip ranged from mediocre to amazing. The food options at the resort were limited and expensive, so it kind of forced us to go out of the resort to eat, but that actually turned out to be a blessing because we got to experience some amazing local dishes. What we learned was that the portion sizes in Hawaii are insane, they make amazing hash browns and French toast for breakfast, they have incredible malasadas (a Hawaiian donut), and the fruit is superior to anything I’ve ever had from the mainland. We even passed a man on the side of the road selling boiled peanuts (something my Texas friends just don’t understand, but my Florida friends will definitely appreciate), a tamale stand, and we had some of the best Mexican food from a stand in the middle of a closed food court. We branched out and tried poke while we were there and it actually turned out to be really good! We wanted to make sure we tried local things while we had the chance!!

 

Overall our trip was amazing! It was better than we expected it to be! We can’t wait to plan another trip in a few years!!


Crib to Bed Transition!

When I created this blog space, I wanted it to be a place where I can talk about all the things that go on in my life. Motherhood, marriage, army life, fitness, etc. Motherhood takes up 100% of my time and focus. All while getting a million other things done and filling many other roles. But Marshall is amazing and I wouldn’t change one thing! Marshall hit a big milestone a few weeks ago! He moved from a crib to a big-boy bed! So I’m going to blog below all about our experience with the transition and pass on my tips and tricks. Obviously, I am no expert, this is just what worked for us!

So I had no intention of moving Marshall to a big boy bed until age two. It wasn’t even on my radar. I just figured at age two, we’d cross that bridge. I honestly thought it was going to be a very grueling process, with lots of sleep regression, so I had no intention to start that any earlier than I had to. But back in September we noticed Marshall crying in his sleep for no reason. He would just wake up crying for no apparent reason multiple times through the night. At the height of our sleep deprivation, we would just pull him into our bed and he’d sleep like an angel. After a few weeks of this pattern, it started to click to me that maybe he felt restricted in his crib. He is a pretty tall boy and loves to stretch out when he sleeps, so I started to track whether or not I thought that was the culprit for his multiple wake ups.

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New sheets! Bed still on the floor-awaiting delivery of his bunk bed!

Flash forward to Thanksgiving. We spent the holiday in San Antonio. During that time, he would NOT sleep in his pack-and-play. Absolutely would not. But he slept in the king-sized bed just fine. On our two-hour trip home, Adam and I thoroughly discussed just pulling out the twin sized mattress we already had for him. Ultimately, we made the decision to just go for it.

That first night, we pulled out the mattress, made a mad dash to Target for sheets (again, was NOT expecting this), and we laid it on the floor opposite of his crib. We wanted to leave the crib up just in case this backfired. We also toyed with the idea of getting a video baby monitor. We have never had one, but thought maybe we should invest in one just in case we could hear him playing or crying in there, but did not want to go into his room. We decided not to invest in one at that moment, but said we’d get one later if we needed it. (Spoiler alert: We have NEVER needed it!).

That first night, he did great. Only woke up once. (Adam and I were very grateful for this!!!). And every night since has been about the same. He has been sick a lot lately, so he still wakes up occasionally for those reasons, but not ever “just because.”

 

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All smiles on that first night in his bed!

 

So here are my tips if you are thinking of transitioning your little one.

  1. Start early. Obviously not when they are too young, but 18 months seems like a good age. That’s when we first started noticing his waking up for no reason. I’ve also heard a few of my friends talking about how they transitioned their kids early and never had issues.
  2. Put the mattress up before taking the crib down. I liked having a back-up option/security net if needed. I was really anxious about the transition, so I liked knowing I could always put him back in the crib if needed.
  3. Put the mattress up on the floor before installing a bed. Again, this allows you to have the crib and mattress up at the same time. Plus, if the transition doesn’t go well, you don’t have to de-assemble the bed after just assembling it.
  4. Clean out all drawers in your child’s room. I honestly thought Marshall would be running around like crazy in his room. So I thought for sure he’d be rummaging through his dresser drawers. We made sure to clean them out. We removed things like baby nail clippers, vapor pads (for the plug-ins), diaper cream, ear drops, eye drops, etc. On this note-we moved his piggy bank up to an un-reachable level. I could just see him opening it up and eating pennies. HAHA.
  5. Anchor your child’s furniture to the wall. This is SO IMPORTANT. It is very real for furniture to topple over on toddlers. I had already witnessed Marshall climbing his bookshelf once before, so I made sure to get it anchored before we made the move to the bed.
  6. Invest in a video monitor if you want, but think about just going cold turkey from the monitors. I knew he was safe in his room. (See above steps). I knew that anything in his room that he could play with were books or stuffed animals. I also knew at some point he would fall asleep, even if it wasn’t on his mattress. My thought process was: if I knew he was safe, then there was nothing I NEEDED to see in there.
  7. Skip the whole toddler bed thing. I’ve never really understood that. Marshall had a custom crib made for him (thanks, Dad!), therefore his crib does not break down to a toddler bed. Even if it did, I am not sure I would even use it. We went right to a twin. And he’s done perfectly fine with it. Right now the mattress is still on the floor while his bunk beds are being built (again, thanks, Dad!). But even when we get the bed installed, he will still be on a full-sized mattress at age 2. If needed, we may put the plastic safety rails since he will be higher off the ground. That’s to be determined. I just feel like skipping the whole toddler bed thing allows you one less transition. Just my opinion.

 

What’s your experience with this milestone? Was it any easy transition, or did we just get lucky? Do you have any other tips and tricks? I’d love to hear them!!


Easy. Clean. Breakfast.

EASY. CLEAN. BREAKFAST BAKE.

Okay yall. So I LOVE breakfast food. Love it. It’s my favorite meal. I could it for every meal probably. My favorite breakfast would probably be scrambled eggs (with cheese DUH), bacon, cheese grits, and some type of bread. Sounds delicious, right? But here’s the thing. That’s not necessarily the most time efficient or healthy option. Who really has time in the busy hectic mornings to make that every day? Not me. Especially not on the days I work and leave the house by 6am. So I racked my brain to come up with a nutritious dish that has elements of my favorite breakfast. And it led me to creating the “frittata-like” dish. I made it once early in the week and it wasn’t quite perfect, so I perfected it and tried again yesterday. I ate it this morning and let me just tell ya, it was SO good. I hope you guys enjoy this EASY, HEALTHY, CLEAN, breakfast dish. This is my first time actually WRITING a recipe, so bear with me. I you have questions, feel free to ask. Let me know if you make it!!!

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INGREDIENTS:

2 cups diced sweet potatoes or white potatoes. (I used one bag of the pre-cut sweet potatoes from HEB)

Olive oil

4 cups of veggies of your choice. (I used spinach and mushrooms)

8 eggs

1 1/3 cup of cheese of your choice (I used half mozzarella, half cheddar)

Salt and Pepper

Seasoning of choice (I used Trader Joe’s Everything but the Bagel)

 

INSTRUCTIONS:

Preheat oven to 350.

Place diced potatoes in small bowl. Drizzle with olive oil (just a tsp or so) and season with seasoning of choice or just S&P. Give it a good stir to make sure all of the potatoes are covered with seasoning and oil.

Place potatoes in a single layer on bottom of greased pan. Bake for 10 min. They will continue baking once we add the other ingredients but they need to bake by themselves for a few minutes so they get cooked all the way through.

While potatoes are baking, scramble 8 eggs in a medium sized bowl with salt and pepper and half the cheese.

After 10 minutes, pull potatoes out and flip. Place back in bottom of pan in a single layer.

Add 4 cups of mixed veggies on top of potatoes.

Pour scrambled eggs on top of the veggies.

Sprinkle the top with the remaining cheese and top with more of the seasoning you used on the potatoes.

Bake for 30 minutes or until the eggs don’t jiggle when you shake the pan. Voila! That’s it!

 

This makes four servings. If you do Beachbody (like I do), it’s one yellow, one red, one blue, one green, and one tsp. If you don’t do Beachbody, this is just a carb, protein, veggie, and healthy fat! What I love about this recipe is that it is totally customizable. You can use white or sweet potato based on your preference. You can choose your favorite seasoning. You can choose your favorite veggies. A good remix of this would be using bell peppers and spinach, jack cheese, and a taco seasoning blend to make a southwest/Mexican version. It’s very customizable to what YOU like, while also giving you a little bit of each food group!! And you can totally double it if you want or need to! Once its cooled in the pan, cut into individual servings, wrap in aluminum foil, and store in ziplock bag in fridge. You can also make this ahead of time and freeze if desired! To reheat, just place on microwave safe plate and reheat for about 3 minutes on 50% power or until heated through.


The real side of 2017.

So earlier this week, I blogged about 2017 and how our resolutions from last year panned out. And while its awesome to look back and remember the fun times and see how you met your goals, I think it’s also equally important to look back at the trying times and see how you’ve been challenged in the last year.

To be honest, 2017 was challenging. It made me question who I am. It made me question the strength of my family. And ultimately it changed me. Throughout all the good of 2017, there were times of heartache and grief and challenges.

Adam was promoted to Sergeant and NCOIC of the orthopedic clinic he works in at Fort Hood. And while that is absolutely AMAZING, and Marshall and I are SO proud of him, it was a challenge for our family. He works 50-60 hours a week and even when he is home, he is usually still putting in some hours doing work. Again, his work ethic is inspiring and I am so appreciative that he works so hard for our family, but it is challenging to have him away so much and to adjust to that new role. It was a year full of adjusting to the fact that in many ways the Army comes first and our family takes a backseat to that. Adam, being the amazing man that he is, also tries to be present and active in his role as husband and father, but I saw the strain his new job had on him and the amount of exhaustion that ensued. Marshall and I took many little trips without him this year. There were multiple times Adam missed family events and family outings. There were multiple nights Marshall was asleep before Adam got home. Ultimately, we found our new normal. And Adam has filled his role as Sergeant, husband, and father with grace. We found our new balance. We initiated Thursday night date nights so that Adam and I can still make each other a priority. Adam is finding his new normal at work and fulfilling his roles exceptionally. Daddy has slowly become Marshall’s favorite person, so I know Marshall is getting plenty of quality time with Adam. And while this job is SO good for Adam and his career, and I am by no means complaining or discrediting our blessings, I am just acknowledging that fact that 2017 was filled with some growing pains in this area of our lives. But I am super proud of our family, and especially Adam, for finding our new normal and continuing to work hard to provide for ourselves while also making our family a priority.

Not only did Adam’s job come with some changes in 2017, but mine career did too. Most you probably know that I was a PRN nurse from the start of my career at McLane Children’s. When I got hired there, I knew that my family was more important to me than my career and that working less hours was what I needed at that time in my life. And all was fine and well with that decision until I started to work less and less hours due to fiscal changes and restructuring at Baylor Scott&White. And also with pediatric nursing, censuses are low in summer times, which doesn’t provide many opportunities for PRN nurses to work. So I was left with a decision to find another job, go part-time, or make the decision to stay home full-time. And honestly, that decision was actually excruciating. I felt like I was losing my identity. I didn’t know if nursing was still the career path for me. I was struggling with not being able to provide for my family. I was ultimately lost. I knew I’d love to stay home, but I also felt like Marshall needed to be in some type of daycare or preschool to provide him opportunities and interactions he just couldn’t get at home. And so I was left at this crossroads of trying to determine what my next step was. I ended up going part-time at my job and also enrolled in grad-school to get my masters and become a nurse practitioner. I have never felt more like I am in the right place than I do right now. I’m currently thriving in grad school even though it hasn’t been easy. I’m loving being part-time and being in my job a little more regularly. This season of life challenged me and there were definitely growing pains, but it ended up working out just the way it was supposed to—and even better than I could have imagined.

 

Marshall also had a season of challenges and growth in 2017. He started daycare in August for the first time. He went from being home 24/7 and having babysitters one-on-one, to being immersed into a classroom of other toddlers and multiple teachers. He took it hard. Harder than I expected. The first two weeks were awful. He would scream and cry and cling to me at drop-off. He cried throughout the day. He genuinely hated it at first. And I questioned whether or not I was doing the right thing by putting him in school. But even Marshall, at 18 months of age, was challenged and grew up a little bit as a person. He eventually started to love school and today he RUNS into his classroom and leaves dad and I in the dust. He’s usually too busy playing to even say goodbye to us. He is thriving in daycare. He’s talking, he’s becoming more and more independent, and he’s growing up so fast. It is amazing to be able to see him grow, learn, and explore.

And while I don’t want this post to be negative, or disheartening, I wanted to be able to show the real side of 2017. To be able to be real about the challenges. To be real about the growth experiences. To see how we changed, matured, and grew. And to see how 2017 was an incredible year but also a year full of real life and real challenges.

I hope this inspires you to not be fooled by social media, and to not believe the hype that everyone else’s life is perfect, and not to believe the lie that you’re the only one struggling. Life is hard, there’s no denying that. But I’m a big believer in facing challenges head on and accepting the situations thrown at you. Because I’ve seen first-hand that challenges make you stronger. And here’s to walking into to 2018, stronger, rejuvenated, full of life, and ready for whatever 2018 may bring.


Happy New Year

Happy New Year!!

2017 was a whirlwind. Does anyone else feel like that? It felt like a very LONG year, but also it went by so incredibly fast.

I honestly can’t remember our resolutions from last year. I have an idea of them, but I can’t remember the specifics. The ones that do come to mind are: spend less money on things and more money on experiences, travel more, and run 1000 miles in the year of 2017. The phrase “Be Still” was my phrase of the year-with the intention of really slowing down and being present. And here’s how those resolutions panned out.

I think we did a pretty good job of spending less money on things. In turn, we were able to travel more. I started the year off going to Nashville with my mom, cousin, and grandma. We thoroughly enjoyed that trip. It was so nice being able to get away “just us girls” and enjoy some quiet time together. I even got the chance to witness my grandma flirt and dance with a 300-pound bouncer at a bar in Nashville. So there’s that! HAHA. Marshall and I went home for my brother Addison’s graduation from FSU in the spring. We got to spend some time with both sides of the family even though it was a short weekend trip. Mom and I returned back home just a few weeks later for an unexpected family friends funeral, so while that wasn’t a “fun trip,” it was still a trip none-the-less and I’m glad we had the opportunity to go. Mom and dad took the baby and I to Fredericksburg, Texas over the summer where we stayed in a cabin with absolutely NO cell service or Wi-Fi. Needless to say, it was so weird being completely unplugged, but SO refreshing. We spent the 4th of July on Lake Travis in Austin, Texas. My brother was able to join us too! We spent the weekend playing cards, swimming, relaxing, and just enjoying quality together time. Adam and I took a little weekend getaway in August to downtown Austin. We needed the time away and needed to reconnect with each other. We spent the weekend riding bikes around downtown Austin doing all the things the “locals” do. It was super fun to experience Austin that way. As fall and winter approached, we spent a weekend in College Station and attended the “Santa’s Wonderland Experience” and we also spent Thanksgiving in San Antonio attending a Christmas boat parade. So while we didn’t necessarily make big trips, we definitely got to experience what Texas has to offer and we (the baby and I) were able to go home twice. In 2018, we are already planning a trip to Hawaii in March and NYC in December. I would love to maybe throw another big trip in there somewhere, but we will see how the year pans out.

While Adam and I did NOT complete the 1000 miles in a year challenge, I did start Beachbody programs and lost 30 pounds this year. I realized running was just not for me. I was bored. I hated it. And I really didn’t have time to devote to it every day with my little toddler running around. However, I am LOVING Beachbody programs and I’m slowly but surely getting back to the best shape of my life! Stay Tuned!

2017 was a year of personal growth for me. I desperately tried to “Be Still (and know that I am God.)” A character flaw of mine is anxiety and anxiousness. And I really tried to let 2017 be the year where I just “Let go and let God.” It’s definitely still a work in progress—I think it will always be, but it was nice to have a phrase to keep my centered and focused on that goal.

So what is 2018 going to look like? Well. Adam and I are going to start a new workout program on January 15th called 80 Day Obsession. It’s a total body workout and nutrition program that runs for 80 days and has delivered some amazing results to the test group participants. I can’t wait to see what our personal results are. I’m going to do a blog post on it in just a couple weeks, so stay tuned for that!! We have also booked a trip to Hawaii in March. 7 days and 7 nights in Hawaii. We never took a legit honeymoon, so this is our chance to re-charge and reconnect. We are so thankful for my parents for being willing to watch Marshall for an extended time so that we can get away. We’re planning on going to NYC with our best friends in December. I think it’s really just us girls that are the most excited about it, but the hubs will enjoy it too! Haha. My phrase for this year is going to be “present over perfect.” There’s a book with that title, that I really need to purchase. But I am going to attempt to be present in my family’s life and let go of my anxiety about having everything perfect. Adam and I are going to continue our weekly Thursday night date nights because I’m a big believer in continuing to date your spouse even after kids and four years of marriage. Sometimes it’s tough to carve that night out every week, but we desperately need it and cherish the time together. Another goal of mine in 2018 is to simplify our lives a bit. De-clutter, simplify our routines, our home, and just our lives in general. Society as a whole is extremely busy and cluttered and I want to break free from that “norm.” And finally, one of the last things we will be doing in 2018 is being intentional with our finances. I would love to complete Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University. I want to be intentional with our money and be able to give back to others while also setting a firm foundation for the future.

So there’s where we stand for 2018. I hope your 2017 challenged you, changed you, a satisfied you. I hope 2018 is even better to you. From our family to yours, Happy New Year.

 

 

 


Marshall Bennett is TWO!

Y’all. My child will be TWO on Friday, December 29. How that is possible, I have NO IDEA.  It feels like yesterday we brought him home from the hospital. And yet somehow, its been two years. The days are long but the months and years go by so so fast. Its amazing and heartbreaking all at the same time!

Marshall is a big, growing, thriving, baby boy. He is about 32 pounds and 33 inches. He wears size 3-4T. Size 7 shoe. He loves anything trains, cars, and big trucks. He knows about 75ish words and is starting to put two and three words together. He is extremely independent and thrives on learning how to do things. He loves to “help” with daily tasks and even has his own chore list that includes helping unload the dishwasher, take out the trash, feed the dog, and make his bed. He is very active and enjoys playing from sun-up to sun-down.

In honor of his birthday, I am going to share his birth story. Additionally, I am going to share the original version I wrote shortly after his birth. As many of you know, we had a very complicated pregnancy, a scary delivery, and an even scarier postpartum/post-birth experience. But, Marshall is our little miracle, and I thank the Lord every day for blessing us with him. We couldn’t imagine life without him. He’s my walking miracle and I fully believe he is proof that God works in miraculous ways and that he’s also living proof that there is a God. So feel free to read his brith story below. I hope you can appreciate the miracles that God works through us and that our story can give you a sliver of hope in a time of full of darkness in this world.

WRITTEN JANUARY 26, 2016:

It’s taken me a while to come to terms with everything that happened. I was also being very private about the events surrounding Marshall’s birth at first. But I realized I want to get it down on “paper” before the memories become blurry and less raw.

As many know, I was diagnosed with preeclampsia sometime in my 2nd trimester. The doctor gave me a goal of making it to 37 weeks, but did not have high hopes of us making it that far.  He told me multiple times that he thought I would deliver by 34 weeks at a high risk hospital in Austin, Texas. Multiple hospitalizations and weeks of being very sick, we finally made it to 37 weeks gestation. I was induced on Monday, December 28, 2015. Adam and I reported to the hospital at 4am. Going in, I was very nervous about the process of childbirth, but not about the health of my child. Little did I know I should have been very worried about my sons health, because labor and delivery were a breeze. For some reason, I thought we made it to 37 weeks, so I thought that guaranteed him to be happy and healthy, right?

Flash forward to almost 48 hours of labor and we were ready to deliver. Marshall Bennett was delivered after 4 contractions and maybe 10 pushes. The whole process lasted 14 minutes. The doctor almost missed the delivery because it all happened so fast. Our little love got 9&9 on both APGARS. He had a loud strong cry. That meant everything was okay right? Not really. They handed him to Adam and I, and as I held our baby all seemed right in our little world. However I distinctly remember asking the nurses, “shouldn’t he be crying?” They said no, he is fine. So on came the recovery process. We were moved to a recovery room, I took a shower, and we began our life as a family of three. 

However I knew something was very wrong with my child. When I would hold him, he was breathing 70-90 times a minute. He wouldn’t breastfeed. He wouldn’t even take a bottle. I noticed retractions in his ribs and he had the very telling “tracheal pull.” I called nurses in all day and asked them to check him. They would look him over and say, “he looks great. He’s just early.” So I would try to subdue my worries- with little relief. Finally my night shift nurse took me seriously and checked his O2 sat levels. He was in the 60-70’s. Normal is 90-100. The nurse said: “I think it’s just this machine. Let me take him to the nurses station, use a different machine, and I’ll bring him right back.” After a few minutes, Adam and I decided to walk out to the nurses station and check on him, while also walking a little bit for my own recovery. When we got there, my baby wasn’t there, and I just knew something was terribly wrong. Our baby was crashing. 

He was immediately placed on CPAP. Transportation was arranged to move to the NICU at McLane Children’s Hospital. About a 30 minute drive. Adam and I just stood there watching all these doctors, nurses, and respiratory therapists work to save our child. It was the most helpless feeling I’ve ever felt. The cries that came out of me were guteral and I knew there was absolutely nothing I could do but pray. Adam looked at me and said: “he doesn’t look good.” And all I could say was “I know.” I knew this wasn’t good. A part of me was trying to reassure myself that I’ve seen much sicker kids in my career as a pediatric nurse and I was trying to tell myself it was really that bad, but when I saw my husband break down and cry and quietly ask me if I thought his brain would be okay from the decreased oxygen levels, I knew. I knew our baby was sick. The ambulance came and Adam and I piled in. 

Once we got to the NICU we were met with a team of nurses, respiratory therapists, doctors, and probably other people we don’t even remember. It was all a blur. But there were over 15 people set up and waiting for our child. The doctors met Adam and I and said “his X-ray is very concerning. We need to intubate him immediately.” I felt like I was losing my child right then and there. How was this happening to us? We consented and were sent to the waiting room during the procedure. Adam and I made the decision to go home (mind you we hadn’t slept since Sunday at 3am-and it was now Wednesday night/Thursday morning.) My parents stayed with him at the NICU. I remember collapsing in the elevator leaving the NICU, not sure about what would happen to my child or if I would see him alive again. 

After tracking down a 24 hour pharmacy to fill my prescription for pain meds, and taking a shower, we thought we might try to get an hour or 2 of sleep. As I was getting out of the shower, the NICU was calling. I was praying for good news, but knew it probably wasn’t. They said the intubation went well, but that they discovered on X-RAY that Marshall had a partially collapsed lung. And I cried even harder. My 24 hour old baby was sick and there was nothing I could do. 

The next few days were filled with positive news. Marshall was given surfactant for his lung development. And he started improving 12 hours later. He weaned down to CPAP again, and then to room air. He was on lights for jaundice, and that resolved in 24 hours. He was able to have his arterial lines and IVs removed. He was able to lose his feeding tube. Adam and I were able to hold him. Everyone kept telling us he was making such a quick recovery. Marshall ate like a champ for the first time. We were discharged home 5 days later. We followed up with his pediatrician 2 days later and got a “perfect bill of health!”

I have never prayed so hard in my life. I fully believe that the Lord saved my baby’s life. I am so thankful that my night shift nurse finally took me seriously and checked my baby out. I’m so thankful for the nurses and doctors that cared for him in the NICU. I will be forever grateful. I’m thankful for my parents who stayed with him at night so Adam and I could come home and get some sleep and so that Marshall was never left alone. I’m thankful for Adam who stayed strong for both Marshall and I. He put his needs last and stepped into the roll of fatherhood with such grace and strength. He is the best husband and daddy ever. I’m so lucky to do this with him. And most importantly I’m so thankful for my Heavenly Father who spared my baby’s life. I have drawn that much closer to the Lord throughout all this, so if there could be a benefit of all this, that would be it. 

Thank you everyone for the prayers and concerns for our little man. We are on the road to recovery. And hopefully this is just a little bump in the road in the rest of his life.

So that is Marshall’s birth story. Today he is ALIVE and THRIVING. He is a spunky, sassy, full of life two-year-old. And proof that miracles do exist.

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Thank you for reading! Comment below with your child’s birth story. I’d love to hear it!