Embracing Everything Emma

Enjoying Life One Baby Step at a Time…

Thanks Mom and Dad May 30, 2013

My Parents & Emma

My Parents & Emma

To my parents (and truly, any other parent whose child grew up to be a parent, too):

Thank you for loving me. Period. There are so many times that the love you showed me only went one way. There was no return and no immediate result from the love you showed me, but you did anyways. Your love for me has shown me how to love my daughter.

Thank you for choosing to discipline me. At the time, I didn’t understand it. At the time, I probably didn’t agree with it. Now I’m glad you did and grateful you did, too. After countless attempts and many tears (from Emma AND me), I now understand just a glimpse of how hard it was. Finding a way to teach your child to obey and not crush their spirit at the same time is a hard thing to accomplish and I pray everyday that we can do it. Disciplining your child is a time consuming, thankless, heartbreaking job. I cling tight to God’s word here and I’m sure you did, too.  (“So let’s not get tired of doing what is good. At just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don’t give up.” Galatians 6:9)

Thank you for choosing to have me. In a world full of so many choices, you choose to give life to an unexpected pregnancy, rather than take it, and raise a child. I’m grateful everyday for the life you’ve given me. I’m even more grateful for the life you’ve given me with you all as my parents! (please note here: abortion or adoption were never on the table with my parents- I’m just being thankful that it never was).

Thank you for giving me a brother. I am so glad that not only was I raised in a wonderful home, but four years later, I had a brother join me. I grew up with a constant companion and to this day, still have a best friend because of it. I’m grateful for my parents deciding to have another child, which in turn blessed me with a sibling.

Thank you for believing in me. Despite how crazy my dreams seemed (and still do sometimes), you believe in me. You encourage me. You have never taught me to do anything less than strive for my dreams and pursue them. You’ve also taught me it’s ok sometimes to not get where you planned on being and it’s always ok to change your mind. You taught me to be a dreamer and a realist all at the same time and that is something that is hard to teach.

Thank you for introducing me to Jesus. You brought me to church, you talked about Him in our home, and you made Him a part of our lives. You never forced Him, but rather, you let me find Him. I am so grateful for this. My salvation is through Jesus Christ alone but I thank you for helping me find Him. This will forever be the thing I am most grateful for and the thing I pray that above all else we share with Emma.

So thanks mom and dad. I pray my life is a reflection of what wonderful parents you all were and still are. As one of my friends, Carrie, so eloquently put, “(raising children) is the hardest job you’ll ever love. Even my worst days are often better than my best days before…”

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What I’m Reading May 29, 2013

Photo from Penny for Them 1

Photo from Penny for Them 1

As many of you know from my post about my kindle, you know I love to read. I really hadn’t read too much in the past few years until I got it. I am seriously in love with it and the ability to read no matter where I am. Along with that, I’m reading a lot of blogs. I’m trying to grow as a mom, wife, and believer and have received a lot of encouragement there. Today I wanted to share with you what I have been reading and what I’ve thought.

“Don’t Make Me Count to Three!” by Ginger Plowman

I am absolutely crazy about this book. It is changing my life and our parenting. It’s gradual and one day at a time, but we’re learning how to be the parents we really feel like we’re suppose to be. It really is a great guide and comes from a humble writer. Ginger is the first to say that she doesn’t have parenting down to an art but it sharing where they are doing well and what not only works, but the Biblical way of parenting.

“Perfectly Paleo- 30 Unique and Delicious Paleo Diet Recipes” by Kelly Smith

This is another great find for us! I haven’t found a recipe in here that I don’t love and I love the nutritional benefits we find from eating paleo on occasion. If you are a paleo diet, interested in it, or just wanting to eat healthy, this is a great cookbook to get. You won’t regret it!

“Organic Food: Eating Organic on a Budget” by Fanny Seto

I really enjoyed this read. We’re working to eat healthy (not always organic) and what we’re found is that eating cheap can be expensive. If you’re not careful, you can end up killing your budget and making your finances a lot more stressful than you need to. We’re been there and done that. We are working hard to eat healthy in a way that we can afford. Sometimes this means we don’t do organic. Sometimes it means the food we’re eating may have GMOs in it. We are striving to NOT do this and avoid it when possible and this book has really helped me figure out where to cut costs.

“Natural Hospital Birth: The Best of Both Worlds” by Cynthia Gabriel

I’m going to be honest and tell you I have not finished this book yet. I’m almost halfway through and have taken it slow since I’m not pregnant yet and don’t expect to be having a baby in the next few months. My goal is to finish it prior to becoming pregnant again. As we continue to plan for a natural birth this time around, I’ve found that educating myself is probably the most important step (other than tons of prayer). JR is completely on board and I’m so grateful for his support. This book so far has really helped me out as I plan for a natural, hospital birth for our number 2, whenever that happens.

I Totally Get Why Angelina Jolie Had Her Breasts Removed from the Humbled Homemaker

ThThis was a favorite for me. I felt this post wasn’t really about what was right or wrong, but more about loving someone like Christ did no matter what decision they make. It was about cutting out judgment that it seemed like so many were doing shortly after this procedure. As a woman with two lines of breast cancer in my family history, I really needed and appreciated this post.

Baby Wearing Series from Stacy Makes Cents

We are a babywearing family. You know the saying- those who baby wear together, stay together. Well, not really the saying, but this series was GREAT! Stacy took time to review several different carriers- from mobys, to slings, to bobas, to ergos, and more! Be sure to check out these posts and guest posts from fellow blogger, Brandy.

On Being a Mother and a Time Traveler from Five Kids Is A Lot of Kids

I stumbled upon Beth several months ago and I’m pretty certain this is my favorite post she’s ever done. I cried. And cried. And cried some more. I get so caught up in what “use to be” and not enough of  “what is”. One day, I’m sure I’ll look back and wish I was in this moment again. When Emma is grown, JR and I are old and grey, and these days are just a memory. Cherish these moments. They are few and far between.

Natural Sources of Folic Acid from Red & Honey

I read this one over a month ago but had to include it. I just started prenatal vitamins a few months ago (I’m NOT prego people, seriously- just getting prepared) and after reading this, I am unsure I will continue them. It’s so important to have a balanced diet and if a balanced diet keeps me healthy and not needing prenatal vitamins, that’s probably the route I should go. I’m glad someone is blogging about these things!

This what I’ve been reading. What have YOU been reading?

 

Fresh Lime & Black Bean Soup- Manic Monday Series May 27, 2013

The Soup (And some jewelry, too!)

The Soup (And some jewelry, too!)

Some people don’t believe in eating soup during the summer. I am one who disagrees with that. Do you stop eating stuff cold in the winter? I don’t. So, I don’t stop eating warm stuff in the summer. I do think, however, there are some soups that taste better when it’s hot outside and one of my absolutely favorites is Black Bean & Lime Soup. My momma found this recipe and shared it with me awhile back in a crockpot cookbook she had that she in turn bought me. This book is HUGE. I haven’t cooked a ton from it but I want to. Every recipe I’ve tried so far has been a win at our house and this one is no exception. Join me today as I share a great summer soup that the whole family will enjoy!

The Ingredients

The Ingredients

You start out with your crockpot, of course. Get it out and thank it for all the good food is has cooked and will cook for you. Next, you’ll get all your ingredients. Start by adding your black beans, chicken (or vegetable) broth, onion, garlic powder, chili powder, cumin, and red pepper flakes to your crockpot. You can cook this on low for 7 hours or on high for 3 ½ hours. When the soup has cooked, put 1 cup at a time in your blender and mix until smooth. Return to crock to cook for an additional 15-20 minutes. Once finished, add sour cream, evoo, cilantro, and lime to the individual bowls. For us, I don’t add the sour cream and I also don’t add the other ingredients to individual bowls. I just throw it all in together. I just find it 10 times easier to do it this way.

I hope you enjoy this meal. It’s definitely on my top list of go to meals and it’s a hit for the entire family.

What’s YOUR favorite summer style soup?

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Fresh Lime and Black Bean Soup, Revised from Crockpot Ultimate Recipe Collection

2 cans (or 30 ounces total) black beans, undrained

1 can (14 ounces) chicken broth (we use vegetable broth instead)

1 ½ cups chopped onion (or use onion powder if no onions around)

1 ½ teaspoon chili powder

¾ teaspoon ground cumin

¼ teaspoon garlic powder

¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes

½ cup sour cream, optionally (I usually don’t add this)

2 tablespoons evoo

2 tablespoons fresh cilantro

1 medium lime (or lime juice if not available)

Mix black beans, broth, onion, chili powder, ground cumin, garlic powder, and red pepper flakes in the crockpot. Cook for 7 hours on low or 3 ½ hours on high. Once finished, put in the blender one cup at a time until mixed well. Return to crockpot for 15-20 minutes. When done, put in bowls and add in sour cream, evoo, cilantro, and lime juice. Enjoy!

 

I’m a Reading Mommy May 21, 2013

I love to read. I’ve always been a reader and it was never a chore for me to read for school or anything else really. It’s been a hobby for awhile, however, I’ve learned over the past two years that reading is few and far between. Between my day job, cleaning, taking care of my family, and more, reading has hit the back burner. I wondered if I would ever read again and then I found something wonderful. Well, my husband found something wonderful. He bought me a refurbished kindle, case, and gift card for Christmas this past year for less than $50. I was certain that I would NEVER read on a kindle because I love hard-back books. I love books I can write in and underline. Today, I want to share with you some reasons why you should get a kindle, too!

Photo by Engadget

Photo by Engadget

**Please note that I am not an affiliate with Amazon/kindle or any other company to promote this product. I am simply writing a review for a product that I believe in 100%**

Reasons why you should get a kindle:

#1- You will never lose your book(s). I love this feature. All of your books are stored on your Amazon account and are available for any other kindle device you may have as well as storing your books in case something ever (God forbid!) happens to yours. It puts my mind at ease to know my books are now safe.

#2- You can carry around thirty books at once. Seriously. I throw my kindle in my purse and keep it with me at all times. I have about thirty different books on mine from topics including child birth to breastfeeding to cooking to blogging and more. I haven’t yet loaded my homemaking bundle yet but when I do, can imagine that amount of books I’ll have in my purse? It’s not even possible to comprehend. It definitely makes packing books for vacation a breeze. Kindle? Check.

#3- You can read your book multiply ways. I have access to my books on my kindle, my iPad, and my iPhone. If I’m ever away from my kindle, I have other ways to read. Keep in mind if you get PDF versions then you can also read them on your computer or print them out. That’s a good option for those who like hard back books.

#4- You save money. I know it’s a price up front but it pays off considering that the books are almost always cheaper and there are always free ones. I haven’t paid for one ebook cookbook that I’ve got on amazon for my kindle. They’ve all been free and they’re all whole foods based. I really like that I’ve been able to learn more about healthy eating for free. That’s a deal.

#5- Easy to use. It really is. I haven’t had JR teach me hardly anything on my kindle as I’ve learned the majority of it myself. The battery life is outstanding which makes it easy to use, too. I can charge it and carry it around for at least a month without a worry. Another feature I really like is the ability to search the table of contents, go to the most recent page, write notes, and more. It really is like having a hard copy right there with you but more than one at once.

So, what about you? Do you have a kindle or do you prefer to go old school?

 

Overnight Oats- Manic Monday Series May 20, 2013

I have struggled with eating breakfast for as long as I can remember. The main reason is I hate to wake up. Seriously, I could sleep for days on end if no one woke me. I’m not sure what that says about me but it’s true. Since I don’t like to wake up, I also don’t like to get up any earlier to fix anything. The only time we have a big breakfast is on mornings when we either have company or we sleep in and do brunch. After seeing several recipes for overnight oats on pinterest, I decided to give them a try. And now I eat breakfast! Let me tell you how it works!

The ingredients (my maple syrup is draining on it's side in a cup)

The ingredients (my maple syrup is draining on it’s side in a cup)

There are at least a billion overnight oat recipes on pinterest. I found one that fit my tastes to try- chocolate cake batter. My mouth was drooling when I first read it so that night, I mixed together the ingredients and at first sight, I was concerned. It looked pretty gross and didn’t mix like I was expecting but I figured why not, it was worth a try. The next morning I got up, stirred it a little, tasted, and fell in love. Best thing ever! And it’s easy to do. There aren’t a hundred steps. All you do in mix together your rolled oats, almond milk, vanilla extract, unsweetened cocoa powder (or carob), chia seeds, cinnamon, and sweetner of choice. It also called for a banana but I felt what was in it was already sweet enough. It doesn’t blend perfectly but I just let it go and mixed it again the next morning and it was perfect. Love at first bite!

Nighttime Mix

Nighttime Mix

I will now be doing overnights oats and fruit regularly for breakfast. If I can make it the night before and grab it to go the next morning, it’s a win. If it’s tastes amazing (and this does!) then it’s a double win. I highly suggest this for anyone, even those people who like mornings. Yuck.

photo-130

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Chocolate Cake Batter Ovenight Oats revised from Rabbit Food for My Bunny Teeth

¼ cup whole rolled oats

¼ cup almond milk (or milk of choice)

½ ripe banana (I nixed this one)

½ tbsp chia seeds (these are crucial as they help your oats to get fluffy)

½ tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder (or carob, too!)

½ tbsp maple syrup (you can also use honey or stevia)

¼ tsp cinnamon

¼ tsp organic vanilla extract

Combine all ingredients and refrigerate overnight. Voila! I prefer using a mason jar or one of small glasslock carriers- they rock!

 

Clean Living Bathroom May 15, 2013

Photo by Home Bunch

Photo by Home Bunch

Ok, I know it’s odd to talk about your bathroom anywhere. I understand this. Let me start off by saying that today I am not talking about mama cloth or any other cloth. I’m not opposed to it, but this is not the topic. Today I am sharing some of the products we regularly use in the bathroom/shower and how we’re changing our lifestyle! Come join me.

Dental care- we have made the switch to natural toothpastes. Emma uses Tom’s of Maine for kids and absolutely loves it. The best deal we get regularly is at Vitacost but I found them 2 for $5 at Target on Earth Day and had a $1 off coupon. That was a STEAL. JR and I are currently using Earthpaste. I don’t hate it but JR doesn’t love it. If anyone has recommendations of brands to try next, we’re open to it. As far as mouthwash, I can’t get JR off Listerine. Any suggestions would be gladly accepted here, too!

Face care- I have personally switched over to healthier brands of face products and have fallen in love with Say Yes to Carrotsf maine. I have also switched to natural products for astringent (like rubbing alcohol or witch hazel). I can tell a difference in my face and haven’t had a break out in months now. How crazy is that? It’s good for me AND keeps break outs away!

Bath items- JR and I have switched to all natural shampoos and are finishing up the last of our body wash before we move on to bar soap. We’ve used a few bar soaps to see what we think and so far, Dr. Bronner’s and Kiss My Face are my favorites. For Emma, she uses the Say Yes to Carrots shampoo and body wash combo. She also has California Baby bubble bath that we all love. We use it sparingly since it’s so pricey but it’s definitely worth our peace of mind.

Body care- As far as other forms of body care, we’re getting there. We have switched to Tom’s of Maine for our deodorant and I’m using Say Yes to Carrots for my body lotion. Our hair care line hasn’t changed much but in all honestly, I haven’t really found a good hair care line of natural products. Have you? I will gladly take your advice.

So these are some of the areas that we’re changing. The best place we’ve found to buy these items- BY FAR- is vitacost. Sign up here to get $10 off your first order of $30 or more! How about you?

 

A Lesson in Grace May 14, 2013

Photo by Thomas G 1971

Photo by Thomas G 1971

For those of you who know me, you probably know very well that I am stubborn. Along with my stubbornness is a lack of mercy, quite possibly even a lack of grace. Please don’t get me wrong- I love people and am quick to forgive in almost any and all situations. What I can’t seem to get past , what seems to always hold me back every time, is my inability to show mercy in a situation. Today, I think my eyes were opened a little wider than before and have let in more room for mercy and grace than ever before.

In most situations, whether things happen by accident or not, I’m quick to call someone on the carpet. I don’t see much room for error. I’m a perfectionist by nature and along with that comes a lack of patience for anything less than that. I pride myself in being able to work my job at home and the office without faltering and expect nothing but 110% from myself and others. I would expect the same treatment for myself when I mess up. 110% and nothing less.

Today at work, I made a mistake. In all honesty, it was a pretty big one. It was an accidentally, non-intentional mistake. But still a big one. I thought for a quick and brief second before realizing what I had to do. It was time to humble myself. I began by working to fix my mistake and make the best of a yucky situation. Step two was going to my leadership and letting them know the mistake I made, despite the consequence. When I confessed my mistake, expecting the worst I would give myself, this is the response I got: “We’re a team. We rise together and we fall together. Don’t give it another thought”. Wow, what a huge amount of grace shown to me. I deserved to get a little more than that for my mistake. Sure, I’ve done a lot of good things and really LOVE my job, but a mistake is a mistake, right?

What an opportunity to look at the cross and see this example shown to me. Did I deserve grace? No, but I received it anyways. It was very convicting for me and reminded me that I need to show this same grace to others, even if it may not be deserved. Why? Because grace was shown to me first. Because of this grace, I should offer it in return. Let this be a constant lesson to me when JR forgets to pay a bill or Emma has her first fender bender- “we’re a team. We rise together and we fall together. Don’t give it another thought”.