Blessings in the Mess

Blessings Learned

Turning thirty sure was sweet. Of course my favorite gift was not from the store, it was spending time with my not-so-little family. However, I did receive this beautiful The Pioneer Woman Willow Cookbook Holder.

I’m so looking forward to trying out a cookie recipe this weekend, and even more excited that my favorite cookbooks won’t be laying on the counter anymore!

Blessings Learned

Hello, thirties!

A new year is here and with it a new decade for me – today!

Hello, thirties!

My twenties were incredibly busy – losing a grandpa, getting engaged, buying our home, getting married, starting my career, baby one, graduating from college, nervous breakdown, job change, a little grad school, baby two, job change, almost getting divorced, re-finding God, losing a grandma, babies three and four.

I feel overly blessed and exhausted just from typing that.  I accomplished more in my twenties than I ever imagined, but I’m truly looking forward to this time in my life. When I reach the end of my thirties, we will have a junior in high school – what?!? I know that the next decade will be just as busy as the first, just in different ways and I think I’ve learned a few things over the past ten years that will make it a bit easier. Of course, some of that learning is still in progress.

  • God’s love is really the only thing we can be certain of. He forgives our sins and grants us the mercy and grace to forgive ourselves, even when we feel that we are worthy of being forgiven.
  • Saying “yes” to everything doesn’t make you a better person. It makes you a crazy person and it’s totally okay to say no.
  • You can push yourself too far. The crash is hard and real and not something you want to re-live. Know your limits and stick to them.
  • Marriages work much better when you turn them over to God, learn to communicate, and see how much life can suck without your other half.
  • People can change and do change. They can surprise you in ways you’ve never imagined. People are also forgiving and can love you even when you don’t deserve to be loved. (Jeremy Brent, you my dear husband, are the best. Thanks for waking up every day and choosing to love me.)
  • The best moments in life seem to happen when you relax and live in the moment. Kids don’t wait for your load to become lighter to grow up. Step away from the work and play in the sprinkler, give the piggy back ride, look at the stars, bake the cupcakes.
  • Turn the music up as loud as you want and always order dessert (two things I will never regret doing).
  • Find your people (they are out there looking for you too) and love them with everything that you’ve got.

It’s not everyday that you get to enter a new decade. Some people meet these milestones in life with sadness, but today I woke up excited and thankful to be thirty and nothing will change that today. Not the lack of sleep from a fussy baby, the toddler who fell out of bed in the early hours of the morning (she’s fine), or the lack of sugary syrup in my iced coffee this morning.

So, welcome thirties – I’m thrilled to meet you. We are going to have a great time!

 

Blessings Learned

cookies & chaos

Phew, we made it through 2017 and what a year it was for our family. We were blessed to watch our kiddos grow, added a beautiful new addition to our family, and I was finally brave enough to start a blog. The year also brought along with it seizure scares with both of our littles. The oldest little had only a febrile seizure while our youngest little spent half of her first month of life in and out of intermediate care for a potential seizure disorder. We were so thankful to receive her Sandifer Syndrome diagnosis and bring home a happy, and otherwise healthy baby.

This year will begin a new season of life for our family. For the first time since 2010 (with the exception of 2012), we aren’t expecting or bringing home a new baby. I’m having a difficult time with it, more on that another day, but looking forward to 2018.

I’m not one to make resolutions because life happens and they are hard to keep. However, in 2018 I do have some hopes.

  1. Finish two Bible studies I started.
  2. Find and create experiences for our family. Whether it be a picnic, trip to a museum or mini-vacation.
  3. Practice my baking skills and make a whole lot of cookies and desserts.
  4. Live a more minimilastic life. Bye-bye clutter.
  5. Embrace the chaos!

With that said, my theme for 2018 is cookies & chaos. I’ll be baking, experiencing life and finding blessings in the mess and sharing.

Sending you wishes for a cookie and chaos (the good kind) filled 2018!

Blessings Learned

Things I Want to be Today

It’s one of those days, where being a wife and mom are not on the “things I want to be today” list.

You know the kind of day I’m talking about – you’re touched out, have reached a kind of tired that no amount of caffeine can fix, and you need to not be the center of the universe for like, I don’t know, maybe even just a minute, to regain your sanity. I’m right there with you momma – you are not alone.

In the middle of the morning chaos, you mumble that you’d like one quiet morning, where you can just walk out the door, jump in your car, drive through Starbucks or (gasp) maybe even sit-down in Starbucks and enjoy a nice coffee before starting the work day. You can’t even imagine a morning where the kids get dressed and brush their teeth without nagging, haven’t lost their shoes, and understand that when it’s under thirty degrees wearing a coat is not to torture but protect them.

You manage to get everyone in the car and buckled up, scrolling through Spotify to find that one song that keeps everyone happy for the five-minute drive to school and daycare. Morning drop-offs are met with a sigh of relief because you’ll have a few precious moments of peace and quiet before you get to work, and a bit of sadness because your kids turn on the sweetness when they get out of the car to start their day and you don’t really want to leave them. Nothing is sweeter than your almost, too cool for mom, six year old blowing you kisses as he skips into school.

Now I’m not sure what you do after you drop your kids off in the morning, but on days like today I take a minute to scroll back through Spotify and find some non-Kidz Bop version of a song, that might even have some suggestive lyrics and turn it all the way up. And no judgement here on your song choice momma, because mine is usually some Justin Bieber. On the drive between daycare and work, I forget that I’m an almost thirty, wife and mom driving a mini-van.

And this part of the day, where I unintentionally try to blow-out the speakers in the mom van, is how I reset and care for myself. And it’s the most important part of my day especially when I don’t feel like wife-ing or mom-ing. For a few minutes I don’t have to be anything to anyone.

The magic of those minutes of self-care can be seen when I realize that I can in fact handle being a wife and mom, and take on the day with a coffee in each hand.

Take those few minutes today momma. Sit in the quiet, turn up the music, walk around the parking lot – reset yourself. You’ll be thankful you did when the work day is done.

Blessings Learned

Paper Jams

Need a good laugh today? See below…

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I was just minding my own business trying to print labels for holiday party invitations today, and my printer had a different idea. At first it was just two labels missing off of one sheet (after spending 5 minutes trying to figure out how to put the paper in to print on the right side in the first place). I thought I cleared the jam, and that the labels were just missing from that page before it went through the printer. So, I started over and quickly realized I was wrong. That’s how you get the mess that’s pictured above. After a few choice words and threatening the printer within an inch of it’s life, I cleared out the paper jam (plus stickers) again.  It should have been smooth sailing from there, but the printer was still really hungry and it tried to eat like six sheets of labels at once. I finally learned my lesson, only after clearing the paper jam for a third time, and fed the labels through the bypass tray one at a time. Success at last!

Besides giving us all a good laugh, there’s something to be had from this frustrating experience this morning.

Life is the printer. God is the Operator. We’re the piece of label paper.

Our life prints out on the paper smoothly, until it doesn’t. Sometimes the labels peel away from the paper and become an obstruction just like illnesses, sin, divorce, and debt can be obstructions in our lives.  It can be so difficult to look to God when we are facing obstructions. Sometimes we feel that the obstructions are so great, that there is no hope or maybe we feel that our sins have made us unworthy of forgiveness.  Like the paper being unjammed from the printer by the operator, we come through parts of life torn apart and crinkled up. The pieces of our lives may seem so messy, that we think we can never be whole or serve a greater purpose. These labels below seem pretty worthless, don’t they?

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But we can be whole and we can have a greater purpose. The Great Operator can take the torn, crinkly pieces of our lives and  transform them into a beautiful picture (if we let Him).

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Blessings Learned

Today

Today, I’m facing a challenge. It’s not a bad challenge but it might be life-altering. It’s terrifying and exciting and overwhelming, and wrapped up neatly into one messy ball.

I’m a perfectionist.

I’m a control freak.

And I’m not perfect and definitely not in control this week. And what’s even more of a challenge for this closet D (personality), other people are going to realize that I’m not perfect or in control. I hate it when people figure that out.

Okay, really they already know that but I have to acknowledge that they know it.

I don’t like that.

But, you know what?

The experiences we can’t control and that aren’t perfect tend to be the ones that grow us. While my experience today has pushed me to the brink of insanity, I’m still alive and I’m growing. And that my friends is pretty great.

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Say Cheese

Time sure is flying by. I knew that blogging would be harder once I returned to work, but I didn’t think it would be this difficult to squeeze it in. Life has been moving so quickly. We were able to fit in some time to get updated family pictures as a new family of six (just in time for Christmas gifts). I wanted to share a few of the best and my personal favorites, the out-takes, because who can’t relate.

How cute are these kiddos? Our photographer has the patience of a saint.  Really.

I loved the dresses that I found for the girls at Target, and the little guy had the perfect matching shirt from abercrombie kids. Thanks to bestie one for helping me coordinate these outfits and convincing me that they could wear them to a wedding and for family pictures.

Over the course of the two and a half-hour session, our photographer really got some great candid shots of what life and pictures are really like with four kids – it’s chaos. She had photography assistants, a toddler who wanted to play with rocks, a break for a dance party, and a whole lot of not having it from the littles.

I’ll have a blog post in the next day or two on my lessons learned from Halloween this year. Plus, some make-up blog posts on a comforting dessert (blueberry slump), one of my kiddos favorite fruit dips (so easy), and more!

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Messy Monday

I vowed to be authentic when starting my blog, so authentic is what you get and really I hope it helps other mommas feel like they aren’t alone.

I have NO clue what I’m doing.

Today, I had a large hot coffee, large iced coffee and a Pepsi in way less time than anyone should, used what seemed like a whole can of dry shampoo (Dove brand, I could never bring myself to spend more than $5 on dry shampoo), and stared at my computer screen for lots of hours wishing my big project at work could prep itself while simultaneously biting the bullet and working to get it done.

Much of my evening was spent with a cluster feeding baby and trying to wrangle our cute little messes. They were a real treat tonight. Please see ornery toddler who decided to take a bath in her shirt and diaper and came prepared with swimming goggles below.

You can’t be mad at that face! She was so proud. I wanted to blog about our delicious dinner and dessert tonight, but that’s far from on my mind right now – maybe tomorrow, because it was too good not to share.

Also real life – I misplaced the keys to my office a week or two ago, just kidding a couple of months ago. You’ll never guess where I found them tonight? In my purse that’s been hanging on the back of the dining room chair for months. I don’t carry it anymore because I’ve always got sidekicks who need diapers and wipes and back-up outfits and a purse would be just one more thing to carry. And in full transparency – I very, very rarely even remember the diaper bag. It’s usually a mad dash out the door with a couple of diapers and wipes in hand, if we are lucky.

To end our night, the 3.5 month old has decided that rolling to her belly to sleep is a great idea, momma does not agree. I know, I know she rolled over under her own power and I should leave her alone, but my anxiety ain’t having that.

I’ll be awake watching her if anyone needs anything at all, embracing this Monday. It’s been messy, but blessed.

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What do you do over your lunch hour?

I don’t take a break for lunch every day, but on the days I do, I try to make it productive. I’d much rather wander around aimlessly at the store but the hours are short and the to-do list is long. Today, I came home to put dinner and dessert in the slow cookers (Pork Adobo and Blueberry Slump recipes coming later tonight), fold a load of laundry, and to actually eat. Eating lunch at lunch is unheard of, right? What’s even better about eating my lunch today? I had Kraft Mac and Cheese and apple juice. Super grown-up, I know.

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9 to 5 or 5 to 9

I’m sure most moms can relate whether they work in or out of the home. I don’t have to be on my game from just 9 to 5, it’s more like 5 to 9. Sometimes I feel like I’m winning the game and sometimes I strike out before it starts.

Today started at 4:30 with a hungry baby, followed by 45 minutes of tossing and turning, and then several turns of sleepily hitting the snooze button. Of course, I find that I’m normally almost back to sleep right before the alarm goes off. When I finally rolled out of bed at 5:30 6, my cheeks were burning and my right eye was swollen shut. No clue what I’m allergic to, but after calling my momma for reassurance that I wasn’t dying and whining to my hubby, I got ready for the day.

I finally made it to work around 7:30, and the day was peaceful and productive (love those days). The baby had physical therapy at 2, and while I had a ton to get done at work, I was pretty excited to pick my big guy up from school. Between 3 and 5, we made it to Wal-mart for a hair cut and groceries, picked up the big girls, defrosted hamburger, dropped the big guy off at piano, made dinner, and picked the big guy back up. Things have been a bit quieter (hahaha) since then and even though the house is a disaster, we’re watching Harry Potter and enjoying the evening.

I’m also attempting to correct the color job on my hair, because I thought I’d pretend to be a pro and lighten it myself over the weekend. That was not a good idea! Lesson learned.

It’s been a day where I feel like I’ve accomplished so much, but nothing all at the same time. And now that it’s 9:01, I’m calling it a night. 😉

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Pumpkin and Browned Butter and Cream Cheese… Oh My!

Yesterday, I promised a review of these fall Pumpkin Cupcakes with Browned Butter Cream Cheese Frosting and Sugared Pecans.

Make them and eat all of them NOW! You may have a tummy ache but you definitely won’t regret it. I promise.

I only changed this recipe up a bit, substituting unsweetened apple sauce for the vegetable oil in the cake. The recipe also doubled easily and was a sell out at the school fall festival tonight.

I again used PaperChef Culinary Parchment Lotus, 12-Cups“>Paper Chef Parchment baking cups, just the Lotus version this time. They make baking so easy and really classed up the cupcakes.

The cake is incredibly moist and the browned butter cream cheese frosting is rich. And if I’m being completely honest, I’ve eaten a few spoonfuls of it by itself.

These cupcakes are the perfect fall sweet treat. I’d love to know what your favorite fall dessert is. Share in the comments or on Facebook.

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Wanted to share one of my favorite recipes tonight, and it comes from the Crockin’ Girls.

In true Becker family fashion, we didn’t know this morning what we would have for dinner tonight – InstantPot to the rescue. We love this Most Amazing Pork Chops Ever recipe. The gravy is delicious and really warms your soul. Our only recommendation is if using a pressure cooker to reduce the amount of chicken broth significantly to make it more of a gravy. We also substituted pork steaks for pork chops tonight in an attempt to empty out our deep freeze before our hog comes at the end of the month.

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Sweet baby,

Tomorrow, our life changes. Tomorrow, momma is headed back to work and your care will be entrusted to someone else for eight hours each day. I’m ready to go back, but I’m not ready to leave you.

We have been through so much together during my time off and that’s time that I will forever be thankful for. I know you don’t really understand yet, but when I drop you off for the first time tomorrow and again in the days ahead, I hope you know how much I love you. We’ve been inseparable for the past year, and carrying you and caring for you is what I’ve lived for.

Today, I hoped that time would slow to a crawl. I spent every available second staring at your face, talking to you and watching my tears fall on to your sweet, chubby cheeks.

Now here we are, at the close of our full-time togetherness and I’m watching you through the bassinet praying that tomorrow goes well for both of us and thanking God for letting me be your mommy. These are days and moments I could live over and over again. I love you!

Follow Blessed Up Mom on Facebook and share your back to work tips!

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Fall is in the Air

We’ve had such an awesome weekend at our town’s festival, Chillifest. Did you know that Taylorville is the chili capital of Illinois? Well, we are and aside from official Chillifest chili, you can taste chili from the sanctioned cook-off, stroll through the vendors, take in some local entertainment and entertain the kiddos with carnival rides, pumpkin painting and more. I’m so proud to be from this little town and to serve on the board for the Chamber of Commerce.

We were all pretty tuckered out from our day of fun, so when 6pm rolled around and we hadn’t made anything for dinner, take out sounded pretty good. However, we are trying to be budget conscious, and needed to free up some room in the deep freeze and the pantry and finish off the produce from our garden. So we tossed what we had into our Instant Pot. It was so hearty and delicious!

We thought we should share the recipe, so here you go!

– 1 bag of baby carrots

– 4 medium sweet potatoes (cut into 1.5 inch wide sections)

– 1 medium yellow onion chopped

– 15 to 20 cherry tomatoes

– 2lbs beef stew meat

– 1 family size can of French Onion Soup

– 1/2 clove garlic (minced)

– salt and pepper to taste

The Instant Pot is great because all you need to do is just put it all in, program it and go. And that’s exactly what we did with the ingredients above. We served it over brown rice and it was such a big hit with everyone.

And for the sake of being authentic, I decided not to stage pictures or use our real dishes. Our lives are chaotic, so we use a lot of paper plates and bowls. It’s not the most environmentally friendly, but it’s real life and we don’t like doing dishes.

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Open Hearts

This morning, while we laid in bed, and started the day with our six year old, we saw the news. So did he. His face looked puzzled and he turned to us and asked us why someone would hurt so many people. Did they hurt him? Was he sad? Was he sick?

We didn’t have the answers for him, and it would have been much easier to redirect him. Most of the time we try to shelter our children from the atrocities occuring around the world, but not today. This was the perfect opportunity to talk about loving others, praying for those affected and the person who did the hurting.

Over and over the Bible tells us to love our enemies, to pray for those who persecute us, to provide for them if they are in need. This is such a difficult concept. Even as an adult, I don’t typically think about praying for the people who hurt me, who hurt us, who hurt others. How do we teach this concept to our children, when it’s a concept that we fail at daily?

My words to our son were that God loves us all, no matter how great our sins. That we aren’t meant to always understand why things happen. That the most important thing that we can do, especially when we don’t understand, is to pray and to pray hard. I encouraged him to leave his heart and prayers open for God to guide (big concept for a little guy, but I think he got it).

What’s equally important though, is for my husband and I to lead by example, to pray out loud for those who hurt us. Our children are always watching us and leaving our hearts and prayers open for God to guide, especially in moments where we don’t understand, will show them how to do the same.

So, tonight and in the coming days, we will pray with our children for those around the world who are affected by their enemies and we will pray for their enemies as God guides us too.

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I’m human.

I was working on a blog about time management, and how I really stink at it, but that’s not really what is on my heart.

I’m sharing today because I think as a mom and as a person, it’s important to know you aren’t alone and that it’s okay to ask for help when you need it.

About forty-five minutes ago, after some strong encouragement from family and one hard swallow of my pride and a pill, I took the anti-anxiety medicine prescribed to me a few weeks ago. Right now, I’m hovering between feeling like Super Man encountering Kryptonite because taking this pill means I dont have it all together (I HATE admitting this) and Super Woman because I’m acknowledging and taking control of my emotions. There is no middle ground right now and well, that has to be okay.

We’ve had a lot of stress in our lives over the past twelve weeks, and it is nothing compared to what many other people are going through. I’m really thankful for the stress. It’s such a blessing to have a beautiful baby to worry about and I’m not happy that our Suburban caught on fire but everyone is okay and it can be replaced. However, I’ve reached my limit and ability to cope without some help.

I’m a self-proclaimed perfectionist, and over doer and that makes acknowledging the above (that I need help) so hard. To top off all of the stress, post-partum anxiety is serious. I have battled post-partum anxiety after every pregnancy and with the exception of the complete breakdown I had back in 2012, I’ve never asked for help, and even then I didn’t ask.

I’m not one to talk, or make recommendations because I obviously don’t listen very well, but it’s okay to need help and it’s okay to not be able to handle it all. (Keep reminding me of this, if you see me.)

I’m not Super Woman.

Life is real.

My emotions are raw.

I’m vulnerable.

I’m overwhelmed.

I’m some kind of messy.

I’m human.

And I’m not in control, but…

God is in control.

I can pray.

I can accept His grace and mercy.

I can ask for help.

I can take medicine.

I can be human.

It will all be okay.

Know the signs of anxiety. It’s okay to ask for help, for yourself or someone else you love, from a medical professional, and you should. Because you aren’t alone, and the battle isn’t just yours. You are human and you are loved.

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Mini-muffin Madness

I don’t know about anyone else but when we buy mini-muffins at the store, they are gone in just a day or two. My kids are like vultures around them and the oldest loves mini-muffins for breakfast.

Anyhow, I’m part of a Dave Ramsey meal budgeting group on Facebook and I saw lots of other moms talking about how much they saved making their own mini-muffins. Now, I’ve looked a few places tonight* and re-compared the per muffin price, which ranged from ten cents (Sam’s Club) to fifteen cents (local Kroger). Reviewing my costs for the baking cups, muffin mix, milk and sandwich bags, I came in right at nine cents per muffin. Not a huge money saver, but a penny saved is a penny earned they say. *Full disclosure here, I can’t do math and thought that the store bought muffins were almost fourty cents per muffin. Oh well…

I needed to bake today to release some stress so I decided that homemade mini-muffins would be easy and save us a little money – $3.40 not $102 like I thought before I realized I can’t do math. So, I made a lot of mini-muffins, 340 to be exact. Ever want to know what 340 mini-muffins looks like? Well, here you go.

I used Martha White muffin mix, because our local grocery store carries it in many varieties and it only requires adding milk. We now have the following muffin choices available in packs of four: chocolate chocolate chip, apple cider, blueberry, wild berry, strawberry, lemon poppy seed and banana nut. I’ll be putting all of these packs in freezer bags tomorrow and take a few out of the deep freeze each week as needed for part of breakfast or as snacks when we are on the run.

And some parting wisdom before you go, check your math more than once to make sure what you are doing is really worth the time it will take. 🙂

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Our People

I’ve always heard other people talk about “their people”, and wondered what it was like to have people. And by people I don’t mean family, I mean a core group of friends who are there no matter what you are going through in life. I’ve always had a few great friends, but have come to realize lately that we’ve developed a group of people who are a HUGE part of our lives, whether near or far.

These are the people who send support through 800+ text message conversations, who bring coffee to the hospital and dinner to the house. They let you stop by when it’s bedtime to reassure you that your baby is okay, and jump out of bed late at night to come over when your car catches on fire.

These people…they are wonderful and amazing.

Our people help guide us spiritually and encourage us as we grow. They understand our flaws and make us feel accepted. They love and care for us deeply which is expressed verbally but even more so by their actions.

Our people make life a little less stressful and a lot more enjoyable.

Find your people! They are out there and they need you to be their people too.

And if you are wondering, our car did in fact catch on fire and the baby did need x-rays (results coming tomorrow) in the last twenty-four hours. And our people, they are really, really awesome.

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Failing

I don’t fail, except I do, all of the time. My heart races and tears fall when I fail, and I shame myself for letting someone down. More often than not, I’m the only someone let down. I can’t recall a time in my life where I haven’t needed to be perfect or where failing was acceptable (except for that time I quit softball, I was totally okay failing at that).

Tonight I realized that I left the baby’s medicine out of the refrigerator. Now it has to be thrown away, a $40 mistake. The feeling of failure isn’t because of the money, but because I was irresponsible and left it out.

It’s not the first time I’ve failed today or this week or this year and it won’t be the last. I’m in constant need of God’s forgiveness and love.

Psalm 37:24, NLT

“Though they stumble, they will never fall, for the LORD holds them by the hand.”

I may continue to fail, but I will never fall with the Lord by my side.

 

 

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Berry Chocolate Cupcakes

I’ve literally been waiting all weekend to share my berry chocolate cupcakes with everyone. I was so excited to find these beautiful raspberries yesterday on one of our adventures.

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Then when we visited our local outlet store and found a cupcake carrier like this one, I knew it was a sign that we needed to make some amazingly yummy berry chocolate cupcakes. After a quick trip to the grocery store for some of the ingredients we needed and my favorite Paper Chef Cupcake Liners, my baking assistant and I got started.

I love to bake from scratch, but that’s not realistic for me most of the time. So, when it comes to making chocolate cake, I love this recipe for the Best Doctored Up Cake Mix Cake and Best Ever Chocolate Frosting Recipe from Something Swanky. The cake and the icing are the perfect balance of sweet and bitter, and I think the yogurt gives both an even better flavor. The recipes call for plain Greek yogurt, but sometimes for extra flavor I buy vanilla or chocolate – yum!

I found the bake time to be similar to what’s recommended in the recipe even when baking as cupcakes and if you use the Paper Chef Cupcake Liners, they are so easy to remove. We let the cupcakes sit over night to cool and so my baking assistant could get some much needed sleep (see Facebook post about the threenager).

Unfortunately though, sometimes life gives you bad raspberries (filled with little larvae) and you have to scurry to find a substitute. As much as we were looking forward to raspberry filled cupcakes, the grocery store had a great deal on strawberries (did I mention we are followers of Dave Ramsey?), that I couldn’t pass up. I also needed a fine strainer to make my berry filling and was so excited to find that Kroger had a buy one, get one free sale on their Good Cook kitchen gadgets. So, we are now proud owners of a strainer AND a 3-in-1 avocado tool!

My berry filling recipe could use any berry, but today I sliced 1 quart of strawberries and combined them with 3/4 granulated sugar, 3/4 cup water, and a splash of lemon juice. I brought the mixture to a boil, reduced the heat, and covered it and simmered it on medium heat for ten to fifteen minutes. I then ran the mixture through the strainer, placing the liquid back into the pot. In a separate bowl I combined 1/4 cup water and 2 tbsp corn starch until well dissolved. Once dissolved I added the corn starch mixture to the liquid in the pan and boiled again until the liquid was thick. The liquid was placed inPicture16 the refrigerator and allowed to set before being placed in a piping bag.

While the filling was cooling, I cored the center of the cupcakes and placed the chocolate icing in a piping bag. Then the fun began. I piped the strawberry filling into the center of the cupcakes, and topped them with the chocolate icing and a quarter of a fresh strawberry. It was all I could do to keep my husband and kiddos out of them before we took them to our church fish fry.

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Side note: I need to lay off of the cupcakes, people are starting to think I’m pregnant again. 🙂

Happy Sunday!

Blessings Learned

I wake up every day with the best intentions: take a shower, appear put together (thank God for BB Cream and dry shampoo), have well behaved kids, refrain from cursing, finish my infinitely long to-do list at work, take care of my hubby, grow this blog that I love… the list could go on and on. Social media makes us look picture perfect, like we’ve got it all together, but we don’t. It’s a really good front.

I barely made it out of bed and to work this morning. I wanted my ten minute shower to be an hour. Even though our four kiddos were coming in and out with every question imaginable, the hot water running down my head and back felt amazing. Work was busy with no shortage of actual work or meetings. I ran late leaving work, rushing to daycare to get babies and home to get dance recital costumes, and to rehearsal.

My big kiddos did great and my sister, an instructor, made me proud. Dance recital with a two year old who has a sensory processing disorder, is not so awesome. I could’ve posted cute pictures of my little dancers tonight where it appeared that the evening went smoothly, but it didn’t. I sat criss-cross applesauce on the floor next to my sweet baby who was overwhelmed and stuck in her emotions, on the verge of tears myself. There isn’t anything we can really do for her but sit-by and wait. She came around for a little while before becoming overwhelmed and angry again.

I thought going to dinner with my mom, sister and her family, and kiddos sounded great to help pass time while my hubby wrapped up his day. After spilling the baby’s water everywhere, and both littles having meltdowns, I did what any mom would do and poured my untouched margarita into what was the baby’s cup, packed them up and came home. I feel like such a rebel. I came home, where I cried in the driveway, wishing that my husband wasn’t still five minutes away and that I could cool down and get it together, but I couldn’t.

Now, I’m typing this up because it’s so important that people know that no one has it all together, while nursing my overwhelmed mind and my margarita, listening to a baby who just can’t go to sleep.

And although I’m still overwhelmed, I know that I’m also overwhelmingly blessed to have this picture perfect life.

Blessings Learned

Our kids had an activity this morning and we skipped it. No one was sick. We didn’t have previous commitments. We just didn’t want to go.

I had mom guilt for about ten minutes before I realized that the world wasn’t going to end because we didn’t show up. It didn’t hurt anyone. Our kids weren’t sad. We didn’t have to rush through the first few hours of our day.

But why did I feel so guilty about not going? Why does every second of the day have to be filled with plans and commitments? Does it really hurt to just say no sometimes?

I don’t think it does. Sometimes we have to say no to put our family and ourselves first. Sometimes we need just one more hour of unscheduled time in the day.

We aren’t teaching our kids to not be responsible or to not follow through, but that life moves so quickly sometimes you have to grab the reigns and slow it down. And that’s okay.

Blessings Learned

For the mom who sees the pictures and sometimes not-so-nice comments about messy houses, and quickly realizes that the pictures resemble her own home – this is a friendly reminder that messes are sometimes blessings!

At the end of our lives, we will not be judged by how organized our homes were but by how we are as people.

Mom with the messy house, I know that you are trying to juggle raising babies, running a house and maybe even working outside of that house.

I know that you wake up at 5 after just a few short hours of interrupted sleep to begin the day. You make an attempt at getting yourself ready for the day, before the house starts buzzing. You throw clothes and shoes on the kids and scramble to find their coats and assignment books before rushing out the door at 7.

The next nine or ten hours are spent pursuing your passion and supporting your family. Quickly running out of the office at 4:59 to get to your volunteer meeting or the kids to some sort of practice at 5.

At 7, a mere twelve hours after you left, you walk in your house to eat dinner as a family around the table, even if it’s fast food. You cherish that thirty minutes where you get to catch-up with your family before you rush to complete homework and bathe some sleepy little people.

Everyone is happily (haha, yea) tucked into bed at 8:30, and you quickly do a load of laundry, set clothes out for the next day and check your email. Nine rolls around and your eyes are heavy. You see that in the short time you were at home the house got even messier, but the mess will have to wait until tomorrow because someone will need cuddles in the middle of the night and you need some sleep before the day starts over again.

You see, I have the same messy house, and the same busy life. And our mess doesn’t mean that we are lazy. In fact, I think it means exactly the opposite. We are living and giving and loving, and our messy homes are a reflection of just that.

Blessings Learned

Affogato

If you’re like me and an avid lover of coffee and ice cream – read on.

I think tonight’s free dessert, affogato, will be a new favorite! Our affogato was made with three scoops of Kroger Deluxe Vanilla Frozen Yogurt and eight ounces of brewed, Kroger Donut Shop Blend Coffee plus Kroger Whipped Topping and Chocolate Syrup to top it off. We are frozen yogurt fans, but some would probably prefer traditional ice cream and next time, we plan to make our affogato with chocolate ice cream and more chocolate syrup!

It’s sundae meets frappucino and so incredibly good! Now run out to your local Kroger or a Kroger-family store and try it for yourself!

Blessings Learned

Life has a way of getting in the way. Sometimes it moves at such a rapid pace, we seize any opportunity for a moment of peace. Lately, our moments of peace have been found only on Sunday morning.

Sunday morning is spent staying in bed for way too long, talking about how we should be at church and attempting to start cleaning before noon. It’s just a day at home with nowhere to go.

Those Sunday mornings without the rush are peaceful, but it’s not the peace that’s found in hearing the Word and worshipping alongside our church family.

And we’ve been missing that piece of our lives for awhile. If only life didn’t get in the way we didn’t let life get in the way.

With the Easter holiday quickly approaching we are re-committing our time to God, to worship and to our church. Making a conscious effort to make Him a piece of our every day, so that we can find peace again, in life.

Blessings Learned

We’re back!

After a very refreshing and very busy two week break from social media, school and work, it’s back to reality for the Becker fam.

We loaded up the car ten days ago and drove a thousand or so miles to sunny Orlando, Florida for a safety conference for me and a whole lotta Disney World fun for everyone.

Staring down the last two-hundred miles to home, we’re all a little delirious and ready to be out of the car! I’m looking forward to sharing more of our Disney trip in the coming weeks. We made so many awesome memories!

Have a great weekend!

Blessings Learned

Truths

My kids were at daycare and school today for almost 11 hours. I barely make it the normal nine hour work day without feeling guilty for not being with them, but I love my career too, and making a difference, so to work I will go tomorrow.

I spent way more time than I’d like to admit trying to print labels today. My track record with label printing ain’t so great.

I used to spend weeks planning parties for our little’s birthdays. I realized today that our oldest daughter turns four Monday, and I’ve done nothing! Seriously – nothing!

We drove through Taco Bell for dinner tonight, but ended up eating more ice cream and fruit snacks than tacos (choosing my battles).

During our taco, ice cream, fruit snack dinner our oldest daughter brought me to tears, when she said that I don’t pay enough attention to her. Just one of the challenges of being a big family, I suppose. I’ll have to find a way to resolve her concern soon.

I had an additional small meltdown when the baby wanted people food for dinner and didn’t care to nurse. She can’t be big enough to want people food, I mean she is, but she can’t be.

I had to drag the kids out of the house to run back to work. The baby cried the whole way there and the whole way back home. 

I sent my kids to bed in their clothes for tomorrow because we have to be out the door and in the car before the sun is up. 

I haven’t shaved my legs since the last fancy party we went to almost two months ago. My legs resemble those of a cave woman and if I didn’t need to dress-up for work tomorrow (no leggings with this dress – boo!!!!) I wouldn’t bother with shaving now.

I have five blog posts sitting as drafts, just waiting to be finished. Yay for having stuff to share!

I got 10,000 steps in today and my blood pressure was 98/64 – woot!

I listened to some good music and daydreamed about owning Miley’s dress from the Grammy’s (size 8 please).

My kids went to bed happy with full bellies (ice cream and fruit snacks won’t hurt for one night).

The kids went to bed with no fussing and are so absolutely beautiful when they are sleeping.