Wednesday, August 31, 2016


September is going to rock my world.  I will be traveling away from my children on two separate trips - both of which I am super excited about.  (Side note: I just finished reading a book where it made fun of an American girl that regularly used the word "super."  I saw myself and cringed a little, 😁, but guess what?  I'm still going to use it.  It is a super good word.)  Anyway, because of all of the traveling, I need the people who will be caring for my children to have meals ready to go.

Yesterday, I spent a couple of hours mapping out meals for the next month+.  This included making an extensive grocery list and then ordering said list to be PICKED UP at Wal-Mart.  This grocery pick-up is a game changer.  Now, please know that I am a teensy bit irritated that this came to fruition just in time for all of my grocery "helpers" to go to school.  That said, it is still a major win in my world.  This morning I picked up 82 - EIGHTY TWO - items from Wal-Mart.  They were finishing up my order when I arrived, so I waited a few minutes, but then it was all loaded into my car ready to go home.

No wandering the store.  No double checking the list again.  No going back to the other side of the store after missing something there on my first visit.

Seriously amazing.  Kroger has it too, but I haven't yet tried theirs - I've heard that it still has a few more kinks.  But, Wal-Mart's is fantastic and made me trying to get food for a month a much better experience.

Okay - here are *most* of the recipes that I'm using this month.  They all fit into my "eat healthier" category by being mostly bread free, mostly fresh food.  These are all being frozen.

Mini-Meatloaf Pepper Rings
- I mentioned this in my "Recipes We've Enjoyed" post last month, but this time, I'm making it for the freezer so someone else can pull it out and feed it to my kiddos!  As a double bonus, peppers are really quite beautiful, not to mention tasty.  I froze these at the point that you would be ready to put them into the oven, and I doubled the recipe, making two trays of it.  For our family, I only put tomatoes on half of it, because several of my kiddos are picky.


Crockpot Honey Pork and Apples

Slow-Cooker Lemon Herb Turkey Breast

Slow-Cooker Honey Garlic Chicken and Veggies
- This one is great, because it is truly an entire meal.

Sausage, Kale and Spaghetti Squash Boats
- I am planning to freeze a couple extra of these with instructions to defrost and warm up, covered, in oven until warmed through.  I think it will work - fingers crossed!

And, just because I'm feeling super 😉 generous, I'm going to throw in a few more recipes that we've recently enjoyed!

Crazy Good Peanut Noodles
- These are noodles made with yellow squash, and I used almond butter instead of peanut butter due to our peanut allergy.  I also made basic chicken in the crock pot that we then slathered in this sauce.  For us, it was a big win.

Creamy Maple Dijon Chicken with Bacon
- I have only started to develop a taste for bacon in the last year.  I know, I know.  What took me so long?  Well, I had a very bad experience with bacon at an After-Prom breakfast in high school where I managed to set fire to a microwave and turn a plate of bacon into a crater.  But, I'm starting to come around, and this recipe was delicious to me, bacon and all.  We ate it with zoodles (zucchini noodles) which most of my kids will eat.  Depending on the day.  And their moods.  Just like all food.

Healthy Dark Chocolate No-Bake Bars
- I've already made these twice since last week.  They are a hit with us all!  Almonds, Oats, Pecans, Dates, Dark Chocolate, and a tiny bit of salt and Vanilla Extract are all it takes.

For whatever reason, I like to vary our meals pretty frequently, so I am almost always trying out new recipes, which has definite pros and cons.  These are all winners, so I hope to incorporate them more often.  Hope this gives you some meal planning inspiration!

Sunday, August 28, 2016


Our second week of school is in the books, and I am happy to report many fewer tears on my own part.  As I said earlier this week - there is so much good.  There's still a lot of adjusting, but I really am coming to like big chunks of it.  Here's a quick look into some of what went down.

We've hit up the pool several times, trying to maximize this wonderful, family-favorite option.


We got to help be a part of providing a bike for this young man from our restaurant who lost his in an accident.


CFA graciously took us to Dave and Buster's for a family fun night, which our kiddos loved!  It was a little stimulation overkill, but we had a great time.  Thanks, CFA!  Plus, we earned over 3,000 tickets, because we are winners. 👊


Vi and I accidentally twinned.  Hand on my heart, I didn't realize we were totally matching until her teacher pointed it out. 😂


I attended one of the most precious/original/awesome/surprise baby showers ever for a dear friend who is fostering two sweet loves right now.  And I drank a margarita too quickly, so then I had to eat a bunch of nachos to compensate. 🙈😳


Can you believe we will be sending off summer so soon?  These served as a Friday fun snack for the twins' class at school, and I took them to my exercise class kick-off party.  Double bonus.  It was my first go at flamingos, and I think I need to find a way to make them more cutesy, but overall, I was pleased.


John and I tried out a new restaurant on our date night this week.  Our dinner entrees weren't our favorite, but we will be back for the Catfish Dip, the pies and the cucumber salad, and we will try other entrees.  You should check out Soulfish in downtown Little Rock if you get a chance. Then, we saw Star Trek.  Sort of known fact: I am a nerd and love fantasy and even sometimes sci-fi movies.  I would not consider myself a Trekkie in any way, but I have really enjoyed all the movies from this particular iteration of Star Trek.


John and I had a calendar pow-wow this evening to nail down a few things and realized that the next few months are going to contain a whole lot.  A lot of it will be fun, but there are a LOT of things.  We are trying to draw our breaths now to be able to walk through it all with any amount of grace.

Here's looking towards a new week!  Hopefully our days (yours and mine) will be filled with more of God's grace than we can imagine.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016


I am regularly getting the question, "How are you doing?"  It is spoken gently and with a hint of pity, indicating that something has gone horribly wrong in my life.  I certainly know that I have acted like tragedy personified at moments, especially on the blog.  Sorry bout that.  I'm still doing a lot of processing and trying to figure out what it actually means to have about 35 more hours each week than I am used to having sans children.

I'm reorienting.  I'm re-prioritizing.  I'm praying more.  I'm working out more regularly.  I'm back to magical tidying and will have more blog posts about that soon.  I'm working more with Immerse and Walk for the Waiting.  I'm dreaming of cookies.  I'm planning travel.  I'm actually keeping up with laundry and dishes (for now 😉).  I'm reading.  I'm working to figure out my "style" both in clothing and in home decor so that when I acquire new things, it fits into an overarching plan.  I'm thinking about what I want our family priorities to be now that our time together has shifted so dramatically.

Basically, the days FLY by, and I am always surprised to find that it is almost 3:05 when my darlings traipse in from the bus and ask for snacks before we load up to get the twins.  I'm not bored for a moment, and so far, I haven't been lonely.  I'm trying to get a good mix of people and by myself time, and for the most part, it feels pretty balanced, especially after the extreme season of summer and its intensity.

I'm looking for the good and working towards gratitude.  The good is glimmering at me through the mundane moments, as is often the case.  The good glimmers when the twins are genuinely excited about school and asking to go back tomorrow.  I see it as the girls thrive in their new classes.  I find it in the sweet goodbyes that the girls say to the twins as they exit the car in the school drop-off line.

Each girl to each twin: "How much does Lily/Bella love you?"
Twin: "This much!"
Each girl to each twin: "When am I ever going to stop?"
Twin: "Never!"
Each girl to each twin: "Who loves you the most?"
Twin: "Jesus!"

These are questions that John has asked both Lily and Bella every night for the last several years.  As William and Violet have gotten more communicative, he has started asking them as well.  Never did we dream that L & B would start asking the twins, and I must say, I tear up every time I hear it.  So much truth.  So much goodness.  So much of what really matters.

Though our time together is not as much as it has been in the past, we are still the parents and still have a lot of sweet time with them.  (We also still have plenty of hard time - let the record show.)  We are doing what God has asked of us this year, and it is really good.

I found lots of good glimmering at me on Monday night when I caught this scene. 😍😍😍😍😍


We then went to the twins' room where we prayed together as a family, and each child prayed out loud.  It is hilarious and precious and sometimes takes longer than we want it to (if we are being honest), but it has become a treasured time where we get insights into their little hearts and get to see them come to know more of who the Lord is through prayer.  Watching the seeds of their relationships with God grow into something more has got to be one of the biggest blessings of parenthood.

I'm basically being swallowed up whole by all of the good around me.  I don't want to ever lose sight of that in the midst of grieving the loss of my "full-time stay-at-home with my kiddos" mommy status.  Instead of sinking into sadness, I'm looking to grasp the good and hold onto it and turn it into gratitude for the life that I have.  By God's grace.

Saturday, August 20, 2016


It's Saturday, and we are trying to play it cool after our big first week at school.  Actually, I wanted to go to the pool while it is still summer, but since we've had nothing but rain, that won't be happening today.  😔  Here's a high/low run down of this week.

High:  We all made it.  Everyone attended all the things on all the days and made it home to tell about them.  Lily made it on the correct bus Tues-Thurs which definitely helped our afternoons.


Low:  As I already mentioned, it has not stopped raining all week.  I tried to run through the woods in our neighborhood, and instead of being able to cross the bridge, it looked like this.


And that was on Monday.  I haven't been back, but I can't imagine it has gotten any better.  I can't even imagine what Louisiana is experiencing, and I'm praying for those families affected by all of the flooding there.

High:  There are MAJOR perks to not having children with me for seven hours each day.  I can breathe.  I can work out.  I can think.  I can accept doctor's appointments without having to be super particular about the schedule.  I can go to meetings.  I can grocery shop so easily.  I can meet my husband for coffee and treats in the middle of the day - say what?!?


Low:  I miss having my kids with me.  I know that I am trying to #cutthedramacarol, but I found myself in tears throughout the week.  It is a HUGE adjustment, and I'm not there yet.  I started crying in Kroger - which is hysterical, because it is the last place in the world that I want my children with me - but the tears came as I tried to pick out slightly green bananas and didn't have to worry about tripping over one of my people to do it.  They are coming even now as I type about it.  So, my drama about the transition is not done yet, and I certainly can't seem to hurry it.

High:  Seeing the kiddos love school.  It seems as if they all really did have great weeks, and everyone loves their teachers, their new routines and their classes.  I'm so thankful and deep down thrilled to witness their personal triumphs and development up close.

Low:  First week of school traffic.  I honked a lot this week.  I also got flipped off.  Between the rain and everyone learning the ropes of back to school, the morning traffic has been a bit wild.  I am still trying to figure out the best way to get from the girls' school to the twins' school, because there is not straight line and about 20 million cars and traffic lights in between the two.  I brainstormed some new routes with John and friends, and I plan to experiment more next week to make my getting the twins to school on time average more than 1 in 5 days.  😳😁 #doingthebestican

High:  They are working on bathroom routines with the twins at school, and Violet has been using the toilet consistently at home.  I have always wanted to outsource potty-training, and this seems to be my chance, though I will of course have to push it over the finish line.  She is SO PROUD and wants me to take a picture of her with everything she puts in the potty so that "Daddy see."


High:  Getting to hear the girls' chatter as we ride to pick up the twins.  Bella told me about an assignment where they needed to write a sentence and draw a picture about something that they loved.  Her words, "I was either going to write about how much I love God or how much I love my cat, but I decided a cat would be easier to draw, and everybody knows that I love God already."  Sweet girl.

Lily is reveling in being a big second grader and understanding how things work and knowing people.  Her year is off to a great start!

Low:  We are all so, so, so tired.  Our summertime bedtime didn't vary too much from our school one, but our wake up time is earlier and has to happen on time.  Plus, this week was a lot of input and newness and excitement, and it has definitely taken a toll.  William has a bad cough, and I can see the strain of the week in certain reactions from everybody else.

There are good moments and bad moments to it all.


High:  We've gotten to veg out to the Olympics a bit in the downtime, and I will definitely miss them when they finish in just a few days.

Low:  Did I mention that I still really miss having my kids with me?  I didn't think I would be that mom, but I also didn't imagine sending my three year olds to full time, year round school.  It's a big change.

It really has been a good week, and I really am so thankful for the goodness that I saw.  And we survived, so there's that.  Maybe someday soon we'll be thriving, until then, I'll just keep watching the Olympics and trying not to cry.

Monday, August 15, 2016


Well, I made it to the bottom of the cliff.  Sort of.  When I wrote yesterday's blog post, I just wrote what I was feeling without dwelling much on the complete drama that it was.  I think I need a pep talk with myself titled, "Cut the Drama, Carol."  And though I currently feel like I have been hit by a train, the first day of school has come and gone with only a few hiccups.

I made cookies for each teacher, because I have realized that going out of my way with kindness helps payoff when I forget all kinds of other things throughout the year.  This inevitably happens, so I like to try to be extra nice when I can.  The girls added their sweet touches as well.


We got up and got moving quickly on this rainy morning.


First up, dropping off the girls, starting with Bella.  On Lily's kindergarten morning, I cried like a baby and couldn't stop crying.  I did tear up while we were dropping off Bella, but I also had to contend with the rain, the twins, and Lily to drop off, so the magnitude of it all couldn't really sink in.  Plus, she's ready times a million and walked in like a champ.


Lily was dropped off next and was so excited to begin 2nd grade!


Last stop was dropping off William and Violet who had better things to do than pose for pictures.


I really was sad at the preschool drop off and walked out of the classroom starting to cry.  They don't really understand that everything is changing so dramatically.  I left Violet crying in someone's arms, which was not a great way to go.  Thankfully, I got a text later this morning from one of the therapists with these happy pictures.


I got another gift this morning - God certainly does take care of me well.   A dear friend is going through the exact same transition - she has a second grader, a kindergartner and two going to full time preschool.  We did breakfast all together after the drop offs.


After school, I was waiting for the bus, ready to go pick up the kiddos with cookies for each one.


Instead of two girls hopping off the bus, only Bella arrived.  The sweet neighbor boys told me that Lily never got on the bus.  They changed the route numbers this year, and there was a miscommunication, and Lily got on the bus that she had been told to get on to - but it went to the other half of our neighborhood.  After some phone calls to the school and to John, we managed to get all children picked up from all the places, though it took about an hour longer than it was supposed to.  Both girls were only slightly traumatized by not finding the other on the bus and not knowing if they were wrong or right.  It was so good to have them all together again!


We went to Sonic for ice cream to make up for all of the bus drama which brought smiles to everyone.


Everyone was really tired tonight.  I feel hit by a train tired, as I mentioned before - I think from the emotional olympics that I've put myself through.  But, starting now, I'm cutting back on the drama.  Everyone had a good day - including me.  There will be major pros to this new life.  It's the beginning of a new era, and I will learn to embrace it, slowly but surely.

Sunday, August 14, 2016


This weekend has been chock full of back to school prep.  Friday night we headed to the school to find out who would be teaching Lily and Bella this year.


The doors open at 5:30, and then everyone races to find their names on the lists posted around the school.


Having two this year made things feel extra hectic, but I'm so much more familiar with the school that navigating it all was easier.  I'm excited about the women that will be teaching my kiddos this year - here are Lily and Bella meeting their respective teachers!


This year, I ordered school supplies from the school that were waiting in their classrooms.  This was definitely the way to go.  👊  More perks of being a returning parent.


Once school supplies were settled, we headed out to Bella's choice for dinner.  John presented her with a butterfly necklace (like he did for Lily) and explained how starting kindergarten is just the beginning of her transformation into who God is forming her to be and how much we love her and will always be rooting her on.  Love it all.


It's hard to realize that Bella is actually starting kindergarten - she is so ready.  We are so proud of her and thankful for what God is working inside of her.  Can't wait to see the ways that she excels in the coming year!

We also had an open house for the twins to drop off their supplies and check out their classroom.  I don't think they really understand that this is where most of their days will now be spent.  They loved exploring everything in it and seem excited, for which I am grateful.

(Violet was particularly excited about this rug.)

I feel like tomorrow I'm going to be walking off a cliff.  I don't know what all is at the bottom.  I know there will be a safe landing, but I can't see that far.  As I talked to a friend today, she pointed out that we don't have to be ready - it comes either way.  I'm thankful that the time for change is here, though I don't know what all it will mean.

I know I sound dramatic - I don't feel like I can help it.  I've been on a steady diet of my own tears about everyone starting school and Olympic fueled tears whenever anyone wins or loses - so, you know, the whole time.  I'm sure I'll level out soon, but probably not tonight.  Lunches are made, clothes are (mostly) picked out, and backpacks are set out.  Ready or not, here it comes.