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.

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!

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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.

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.

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.

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. 🙂

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.