Friday, February 27, 2015

Snowy Birthdays

Well the snow came and went this year. It was actually ice, not the fun stuff. Regardless we got 2 snow days and a delayed start day out of it and they couldn't have happened at a better time. To give you an idea of just how "hot natured" our children actually are on one of the snow nights we found Ribbit zonked out in her bed, completely naked except for a scarf neatly wrapped around her neck. I can't believe our laughter didn't wake her up.
Celebrating our day off with silly face breakfast tacos
I was able to get a ton of work done on the sets for our school musical this year, Sound of Music. I had student help on Saturday, and Adam helped me on Monday and Tuesday

One of my sweetest, hard working students!
Arches for the abbey.
The kids were able to utilize momma's smartboard in her classroom and were treated as VIP  members at their own private movie theater..complete with snacks:).

A little painting action
We also got a chance to do some cookie baking, dough licking, icing and sprinkle decorating. Total we consumed at least 2 lbs of sugar.

The "snow" did put a damper on our workout routine, although we did get up super early on Tuesday and get in an hour at the weight room. However, there were 2 days where I carved out an hour to do some bodyweight circuits. I had the cutest little workout buddies. Baby Boy and Ribbit love "working out" with mommy. Ribbit does her best to do exactly what I do and has a focused look on her face the whole time. Baby Boy tries, rolls around, jumps around and gets as close as possible to me so we can mix sweat. Ribbit declared that burpees are her favorite exercise because she can jump up and then jump down and be a frog. She didn't like sit ups and said "tttthhiiisss  iiissss  toooo haaarrddd mommy" as she finally rolled over on her side in order to sit up. They both loved tricep bends and called them flying birdies. One day as we got ready to eat lunch after our workout she said "so how many calories was that workout?...whew, I am tired".

Queen Elsa made several appearances while we were FROZEN in.

Don't mess with Batman!
The kids did find a way to "play" in the snow. Adam braved the winter storm and took them back up to the school (we should probably just move in) and they went down the hills several times. Our neighbor even broke out her skies and they had a fun time watching her.
We got a lot of play time in, dress up time, movie time, lots of crockpot soups and hot chocolate and even some good ole quiet reading time!

Tuesday was Baby Boy's 3rd birthday. 3 YEARS OLD. Holy cow, where did the time go? I was smitten that I got to spend his birthday with him, that hardly ever happens since it is during the school year.
He chose donuts for his birthday breakfast and off we went,  braving the ice and snow...or rain and mud to find them. Dunkin Donuts was closed..which I thought was quite we found a local bakery that was open and it was even better than we imagined. They had something for each kid...Ninja Turtles for Baby Boy, Hello Kitty for Ribbit and Pigs in a Blanket for Goober. Mom and Dad both got our favorite, BLUEBERRY CAKE....heavenly blue dough!!

Goober, Baby Boy and Eric owned the play area :)

Emily and Baby Boy! Happy 15th and 3rd!
Baby Boy chose Chick Fil A for lunch, which was another big shocker :), and off we went. Our good friends were also celebrating Emily's 15th birthday so they met us there. My kids had so much fun playing in the playcenter with Eric. Everyone else in Texas also had the same idea so we were packed like sardines for a while.
Buying our door for our new pantry
I made a  homemade meal with some of Baby Boy's favorites for dinner...macaroni and cheese, skillet apples and sausage. Then he opened gifts. Don't you love it when your other kiddos declare that they have no clue what they got their brother as he opening the gift "from them". It was quite comical to watch him open up PJ's, a lunchbox and some construction vehicles and watch as they all got quickly forgotten when he realized it was dessert time.

The next morning he woke up and decided he was ready to wear his new spiderman PJS and all was right in the world.
Wednesday was Adam's birthday and we had a delayed start due to icy roads. I made sure everyone knew of the big day and he was wished Happy Birthday all day long. One of the cutest things happened when Adam went to pick up Ribbit. Her teacher told Adam "Happy Birthday" and Ribbit yelled as she came careening around the corner "Its his actual real live birthday too!"

After school Adam and I went out to see "The Imitation Game" review is this "interesting but meh". Then we headed to Sushi Sam's for some awesome sushi, steamed edemame and pistachio ice cream. OHHHHH YYYEEAAAHHHH! Adam's present this year was his truck so a movie and dinner was icing on the cake ;).
Happy SNOWY Birthdays to two of my favorites!!!

Fitness Friday-Drinking your calories

I read a lot of fitness blogs, magazines and online articles. All of them agree that if you are tying to lose or maintain weight then you shouldn't be drinking your calories...spend them on food and rely on water!!

Well, I am no expert..I am actually closer to a fitness moron than I am a fitness expert but sometimes there are days when drinking my calories is worth it!!!

First of all there is coffee, which by the way I gave up for lent. Then I found out that Chick Fil A was giving away free coffee for the whole month of February and that lasted all of 24 hours. Anyways, black coffee has been linked to speeding up metabolism and on those cold mornings it is sometimes the one thing that gets me going. However, be careful not to drink it before you exercise as it could cause dehydration.

Second there are smoothies, which I like to call my second breakfast :). I eat my normal breakfast right when I get home from working out. However, by 8 or 9 I am starving again and having a smoothie ready to go keeps me satisfied until lunchtime.

Here are my two favorite smoothies.

1-Banana, PB2 and almond milk. I have mentioned this one before but it never gets old. Freeze your banana the night before to add some texture and thickness!

2-Spinach, water, one scoop of Advocare Strawberry Mango spark and then 1/2 cup of either frozen strawberries or mangos. Its super sweet and allows you to reap the benefits of spinach without tasting it. I always add a lot of water to this one and make a huge smoothie that I can sip on for an hour or so.

Next, there is starbucks. I have a love/hate relationship with them. I love their skinny hazelnut latte and their skinny peppermint mochas. I love that my students constantly hand me starbucks giftcards as Thank You gifts or Christmas presents. I love that there are 2 stores super close to me. I hate some of the more recent ways that Starbucks has made the headlines. I don't know what "they", whoever "they" may be, really believe or support but from what I have heard they are probably more liberal than I would like.

Finally, I love milkshakes. There, its out. I could drink a Braums Chunky Chocolate Milkshake every day...maybe twice a day. There small comes in around 260 calories and it made with sugar free frozen yogurt. So on days that I find myself with enough calories left for a splurge I do it. I always regret it the next morning but I usually push myself harder in my next workout because of it. Its a stupid cycle.

I received all of this in one day from my, either I am very loved or very loud about my addictions :).

Some drinks that won't cost you a single calorie are

-honest to goodness black coffee, which most people can't handle. Try NesCafe instant coffee!!! So good, even black!
-ICE drinks...all sorts of flavors and no calories. I limit myself to one every other day or less since it has sugar substitutes that probably will give me some sort of cancer. My favorite flavors are the ones with coconut, mango and tangerine.
-Water...add cucumbers, oranges or strawberries for a boost in flavor
-Green or Black Tea...YUM (green) YUCK (black)!!!
-Skinny Girl spritzers--these aren't zero calorie but they are 10 calories per bottle. They tend to be a bit heavier on my stomach than the ICE drinks and the flavors aren't fantastic in my opinion.

 What are some of your favorite low calorie drinks??

Monday, February 23, 2015

Our Exclamation Point!!

As one of our sweet friends said today "Baby Boy is the exclamation point to your family".
In other words he completed our family and in a very exciting way!! I always refer to his homecoming day as the biggest SHOCK and most JOY we have ever felt at one time.
We never thought we would be able to adopt a newborn. We didn't necessarily want a newborn, we wanted kids who weren't wanted....sibling groups, mixed race kiddos, those who been passed around the foster system.
In the same breath we also wanted to keep our kiddos siblings together and so when we found out that there was a half brother up for adoption we didn't even hesitate. In fact, just as God had physically prepared me for our first two with achy arms and visions of their names, he completely prepared me for Baby Boy. He put those aches back into my body and he also gently nudged us to say NO to another baby boy (who was not related to our kiddos) 2 months earlier.
Baby Boy was a drug baby and had to spend a lot of time in the hospital detoxing, going through seizures and being closely monitored. At the same time our foster care license had gone into remission, meaning that we could activate it with one or two classes and a new inspection. So after an 8 hour class on drug babies, side effects, medications needed and overall care.....the quickest home inspection ever in which we were forced to get rid of our trampoline....and an awesome group of church members who put together a nursery and baby proofed our home in 1 day...we got Baby Boy.
He was around 2 weeks old and from the minute he arrived his presence was known. CPS knew that we didn't have a clue what we were doing with a 6 year old and 18 month fact at Ribbit and Goober's adoption hearing, our case worker told us that we were the youngest couple she had ever worked with but also the most changed from day 1 to adoption. We thought we had it together though from the start :).
With Baby Boy no one was fooled, we all knew that we had no clue what to do and that this was going to be different from our first adoption. Baby Boy does have the same mom as our first two but unlike our first two the supposed dad was still in the picture. He nor their birthmom had given up rights and he had family that wanted Baby Boy. We were so torn as to whether or not we should tell our kiddos that this was their brother. There was a 50/50 chance that he wouldn't be ours to adopt after several months...which we couldn't talk about without water works.

We decided to tell our kids though because we wanted them to cherish any time they did get with their brother. This also opened up several wounds for Goober and he had all sorts of questions. "Why does she still want him, but not me?" "Why does she give up her children" " Why did she name him _________". Things got even worse when she was granted a visit by the court......
The worst day of our lives happened when he was 5 weeks old, still considered a foster child, still taking a bottle with meds in it every 2 hours, even through the night. We begged to be allowed to drive him 2 hours away to have the visit but we were denied. We begged to have another judge deny the visit but it still happened. We had friends volunteer to run away with him for the day....WE LOVE YOU FOR THAT ;). But that day came and ended with an Amber Alert being issued for our son.

Our 5 week old son went missing and no one could tell me where he was, not our adoption agency who put out the alert, not CPS who later would have charges pressed against them by our agency and fined. Not even the CPS driver who showed back up several hours late with him and told me to "calm down, you are just the foster mom"....she saw the worst part of this mama bear, closest I have ever come to slugging someone. 
All we know is that he was breastfed with drug milk, fed french fries, broke out all over his body the next day, ended up back at the doctor and our privacy, confidentiality and safety of our other two children were all compromised.

That day was awful for all of us but especially for Goober who several times was in the fetal position in his bed worried about policemen, his brother, what his "mean mom" may do to him and why Mom was screaming in the front yard.

After that all court visits were denied, even though she kept requesting. We wouldn't have allowed it anyways. We would have gone to jail rather than to hand him over again. Eventually her rights were removed and we were granted his adoption. My hearts prayer was that he would be a part of our forever family by his first birthday, Feb. 24th. We drove to his adoption court hearing on Feb. 22nd, were told the judge called in sick and so we waited for another one to hear our case. It was the longest, most exhausting day in court ever but we left as an official family of 5.
God has taught us many things through this little bundle of joy. He has taught me to seek him late at nightly time with Baby Boy soon became times of prayer and worship. He has taught me that my children are precious and mine, I am their best advocate and He is their best protector. I have learned that all children come with baggage...even bio kids and that those who scoff at adopting "drug babies" haven't witnessed what we have with our 3 miracles. All they need is a chance, an honest fighting chance. A stable home, lots of good nutrition, someone who will take them to the doctor, someone who will tuck them in, someone who will clothe them warmly, someone who will speak about the redemption of the Lord into their lives.
I am so thankful to the Lord for my little exclamation point, my curly headed source of daily Joy and the shock to my system that I so obviously needed 3 years ago!
So HAPPY GOTCHA DAY to Baby Boy and EARLY BIRTHDAY to my Big 3 Year Old Man!!

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Peach Pickin-What my family lovvvesss to eat!!

We are a big ole mess of somewhat picky eaters around here. It's not yet to the point of annoyance and with some foods it just a preference. Which means that for lunch Goober gets the plain honey granola bar while Ribbit gets the chocolate chip and Baby Boy gets the peanut butter. With crackers we are split 3 ways as well between cheese, peanut butter and cheese with peanut butter filling.....the kids always know when Dad packs their lunch because they are forced to eat their siblings favorite :).

Needless to say I constantly find myself saying "This is not a restaurant" whenever one of them gets whiny at dinner...the one meal where one dish is cooked and like it or not you are eating it :).

I know that many people make fun of those who snap photos of their food. However, how many of us relate a food or recipe or just plain cooking back to a loved one, a special time in their lives or just the thought of home. How many times have I tried to cook tomatoes and rice just like my Grandma Coleman only to find that it isn't quite right but I still cherish her memory anyways. How many times have I tried to recreate my husbands favorite birthday dessert, blueberry fluff, only to stray a little away from his moms recipe only to find that for him it was the thought in the beginning that counts. How many times have I stood in my kitchen with 3 sets of little sticky hands helping me make cupcakes, cookies, pies and breads....and then watched them lick their fingers and declare that we are good cooks. How many times have my little chefs help me prepare a meal for a sick family, family with a newborn, a grieving family, a new neighbor or as a thank you...the answer, countless. These memories tied to food are sacred to me....a part of who I am and the traditions and lessons I am teaching my kids in the kitchen. So joke away memory maker haters.... :).

This is one of my go to meals...especially if we are having guests over!! Prego Light Alfredo sauce, spaghetti squash and baked/grilled chicken. Sometimes I add in homemade pesto and top with Parmesan cheese. 

1. Half the squash, rub with oil, salt and pepper. Cook at 350 for 40-45 minutes in the oven, flesh side up.
2. Shred with a fork (its like butter) and watch it turn into spaghetti.
3. Stir in sauce, chicken and toppings.

My kids have never once said that this doesn't taste as good as normal chicken alfredo...and you better believe it comes in at around 200 calories a serving...bring on the BIG BOWLS!

I'm not sure I can express our love of Matzah in words. Its a problem that we are all okay with!
This is my favorite way to eat it. Slathered with PB2 with a little bit of Walden Farms Zero Calorie chocolate sauce mixed in (not to much, just enough to make it hazelnutty) and then a sliced banana. I could (and have) eaten this for breakfast, 2nd breakfast, lunch, snack, dinner and dessert. ITS SO GOOD. Salty, sweet, crunchy, chewy....And this particular way only cost me a whopping 235 calories...SCORE

And this is my kiddos personal favorite...thats right, they all agree for once! Its Matzah with creamy peanut butter and strawberries. I attempted to make them strawberry hearts since this was Valentines Day but the fact that my matzah was calling my name put me in a rush, thus the sloppy "hearts".

This.....This is heavenly! Sweet baby broccoli, onions, mushrooms, grilled marinated chicken and then wilted spinach on top. You could put salsa in this or some soy sauce. ITS DELISH!!!!!!

And finally, another breakfast favorite for all. Egg Tacos.

The kiddos like theirs with eggs and mozzarella cheese wrapped in one of these awesome wraps that my good friend, workout buddy, fellow teacher and mentor Debbie found for us. 50 calories a pop and look at all that fiber. FILL YOU UP!!

My tacos look a little different. Same great wraps, egg whites, laughing cow cheese, salsa, onions and mushrooms. I was out of spinach or else I would have wilted some on top as well.

What is your family's go to meal? What are your kiddos favorites?

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Fitness Friday-Calorie Counting

This week I want to talk about how to keep off the weight once you have lost it. There are several opinions about the idea of counting calories....if something works for you, do it. If it doesn't, find what does.

I did a lot of reading and research into how many calories I should be eating a day to maintain my current weight. For me its 1400 on cardio and any day I don't exercise. On days I lift weights I normally need 1600 as I am ravenous all day long.

I personally have found the MyFitnessPal App to be the best, easiest, cheapest (free) way to do this. You can even enter your own concoctions and it will tell you about how many calories are in each serving. Granted, this app doesn't include EVERYTHING but there is enough in the database to help guide you towards an educated decision on what goes in your mouth.

 Image result for myfitnesspal

Once I began to track my calories I was amazed at how many times I was eating double or triple the amount of a recommended serving size. A serving is not whatever will fit in a cereal bowl..its actually one cup or 4 oz or 32 pieces, etc. I was also amazed at how many things are served as individual snacks but are actually two servings.....lots of beverages, trail mixes and desserts are packaged this way.

The best thing about My Fitness Pal is that I always have it with me and it keeps up with your most popular foods so that you aren't always entering something new. It caught on real quick to my love of rice cakes, egg whites, laughing cow cheese and spinach and now it will group it together, if I choose, so my time isn't wasted.
This is a stock screen shot, not my personal diary!

This app also has several fast food chains, restaurants and pre-packaged meals in its database. If I know I am going out for dinner I will get on the app, find the restaurant or one comparable (i.e. Mexican) and find out how many calories I will need to save for dinner before I ever consume breakfast. This helps me enjoy my time out with friends without punching in calories or worrying about over eating.

This app also holds me accountable. I hardly ever let myself change what I put in. Most days I will put in my whole days worth of calories right before breakfast. This lets me know what kinds of snacks I can add in between meals and gives me a plan. If I have a plan I am less likely to order something based off of a quick, uneducated guess or after seeing what everyone else is ordering. It also keeps me from snacking on the many goodies that pile into our teachers lounge.

Another stock shot.
MyFitnessPal also estimates how many calories, based on height,weight,time and intensity, you burn during exercise. At the end of each day you hit complete and it will tell you an estimated weight you could hit if you were to eat and exercise like this day every day for 5 weeks.

 On the flip side I have read several articles where nutritionist argue that this could cause someone to become OCD about their food and not learn the value of eating whole foods. You could also argue that people aren't seeing the food behind the calories and therefore could eat 1400 calories worth of crap all day long and think that they are being healthy.

I have also heard of a blended theory where people won't track any fruits or veggies as they consider them "free". They only track their proteins, carbs and like I said before. If it works for you, do it...if not, find something that does.

What you have found that works for you?

Thursday, February 19, 2015

32 things you don't know about my hubby

Guess who turns 32 in a few days? This guy....
In honor and to celebrate each year of his life here are 32 things you may not know about this cool dude.

1-He can mimic anyone. Watch out friends and family. If Adam has been around you for longer than 5 minutes then he has your accent, mannerisms and quirks down. I get a giggle out of each and every impression he does, except when he mimics me and its dead on annoying :).

2-He may be a white boy but he has got moves. Can I get an Amen from any of our friends who have invited us to their wedding? Adam has always started and ended the dancing. People always ask why I don't join him....well its hard to dance with someone when they are dancing AT you, not WITH you!!

3-This may be a continuation of #2 but as I said Adam has dance skillz....which runs over into the fact that he can do the worm....on any surface...with a moments notice.

4- He has been skydiving....over the Swiss Alps.

5-He and his brother hiked the Applachain Trail for close to 3 months before they were forced to stop due to health reasons. He talks about how close he felt to the Lord during those many long days of hiking and long nights in a tent.

6-He had dreads during this hike...he wore the front two spiked up like bug must have been super attractive...smelly hiker with bug dreads...yuck.

7-He has had his tongue pierced...not once but twice. When we first started dating I mentioned to him that my dad wouldn't take him seriously if he had that thing in when he asked to marry me. I knew the minute that sucker came out that a proposal was near :).

8-He leads our family in a devotional every night after dinner. He is currently taking us through the bible chronologically and the kids love answering his questions and listening to the silly songs he makes up and the funny voices he uses in his stories.

9-He can't remember the words to 99% of all songs. He has "Happy Birthday" and " I'm a little tea pot" down, other than that he butchers every single song.

10-He sees no need to dirty up a cup when he can crane his neck under the faucet spicket and drink water that way. Its semi okay at our house, but completely awkward at our friends homes...completely awkward.

11-He      waits        to        eat        his          ice        cream       until        it          has         melted      into       soup. On purpose.

12- He proposed without a wedding ring. It was in the mail but he said he couldn't he drew a ring on my finger with a sharpie.

13- He compliments me at least 5x a day...with no regard for who can hear or how much it might embarrass me. Its completely romantic and embarrassing all at the same time.
14- He heard ColdPlay at one of their first small concerts while living abroad in Austria and has been hooked ever since.

15- He has an undergrad in Anthropology and a Masters in Biblical Studies and Biblical Archaeology.

16-His nickname in high school was clue why?

17-He has an addiction to swedish fish and cereal. Not mixed, seperately.

18- He only wanted to adopt one child at first but towards the end of our foster classes he told me that he felt like we could handle a sibling group. Yup, we can :).

19-He has the card that I wrote my # on back in college in his wallet still :). Funny thing is that I gave it to him with hopes of setting him up with my best friend!

20-He still has the line up card of the game when Goober struck out his first batter. Sweet man.

21-He cried (I may be in trouble) as I described to him how Goober struck out, threw out and then struck out another player in the last inning of a game to win for his team. He was at home with our two littles who were sick and as he heard my voice get more and more excited he lost it :).

22-He always calls his grandparents on their birthdays or to tell them thank you for sending him birthday cards.
23-He may have had a college bedroom that was decorated with Bob Marley tye dye fabric and beaded curtains with fairies. YIKES!!!!

24-The first compliment Adam ever gave me was at 3 am, sitting inside his truck, outside my duplex in Auburn. He wrote on a sticky note that he was in love with my soul and knew that I would be his wife. I was half asleep, in pjs but I remember thinking that I loved how he complimented my character first instead of my physical beauty.

25-He loves Sci Fi....anything to do with another planet, robots, time travel, super powers, etc.

26-He always ask me if he "looks ok" when getting dressed for church on Sundays".

27-He doesn't like cake. GASP. He loves cheesecake and cookie cake but not the dryness or texture of traditional cake.

28-He is one of my brothers best friends. It has been one of the most touching things to watch them grow closer to each other and have looooonnnggg talks about the Lord, theology, football, marriage as they smoke cigars and share wisdom.

29- He only ever shows anger during football season. But when he does show it we leave the house :). I pray that Auburn does well every year for two reasons...1) I heart them and 2)so my kiddos won't be scared of their daddy as he beats up bean bags and stomps around :).

30-He shared the gospel with my Papa several times as he declined. Its very hard to beg someone who you love to believe in something that they don't agree with, especially when he has dementia and could be very mean at times. Adam sat beside his bed, held his hand and spoke truth to him when nobody else could. I am forever in debt to the loving kindness he showed.

31-He handles criticism better than anyone I know. He is always quick to learn from it and receive it. He can admit when he is wrong and challenges himself to be better. He will gladly share with you ways in which the Lord is growing and challenging him.

32-He is a human GPS. No really, ask anyone. We can be in any state, any city and just by looking at the sun and doing his boy scout voodoo he can get us where we need to be. I can be in tears and have driven past the same Burger King 5 times and after a 3 second conversation with him I am back on the right route. Its quite amazing and a blessing!

Happy Happy 32nd Birthday (on the 25th) to my handsome hubby! You are a blessing to all!