January Favorites Round Up

I am so excited about this new series with 5 of my favorite bloggers!! 

Each month we will do a Favorites Roundup featuring our favorite places, foods, buys, toys and beauty items for that month. Each month we will feature the same categories too which means if you follow along with our blogs you’ll get to know us pretty well!

I’m hoping January won’t be too boring for y’all. After the holidays we usually take some time to chill and not spend money! Anyone else??

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I’m excited!! Let’s get started!

Favorite Place I Went this month – Well, this month as been pretty much an indoors month for us. With colds and the flu going around Hollis and I have stayed put, plus we had snow which closed down the city for a week. But today we are traveling to Rome Georgia where my husband will compete in a local Crossfit competition. Anyone else into Crossfit?? I’m excited to spend the weekend away with my family and my kids always get crazy excited to stay in a hotel!
Favorite Recipe I made – I started Keto at the beginning of January so almost everything I have made is either new or revised! You can follow my Keto Pinterest Boards for all the recipes I’ve been trying! I would say my favorite though would be these Jalapeño Burgers!! When you click on this link you will say “Wait a minute I can eat that on Keto??” And yes, yes you can and it’s lovely! Anyone else on Keto?? I’d love to recipe swap!
Favorite Outfit I wore – Sadly I did ZERO shopping in January. I’m sure my husband appreciates that! Here are a few pieces I have my eye on for February though!
Favorite Movie – Want to know a little more about us? We NEVER go to the movie theatre! Since we’ve been married and had kids I can seriously count on two hands how many times we’ve sat in a movie theatre. My husband is a Marine and is so overly aware of everything that he can’t relax long enough to enjoy the movie. The same goes for concerts, festivals, and restaurants too if they are too crowded. We did watch Arrival earlier this month with Amy Adams and it was super good! Our older two kids who are 12 and 11 watched it with us which is always nice to find something we can all enjoy together!
Favorite Kid’s Item – Can I say YouTube Kids??? Kidding, kinda, but not really.
Favorite Beauty/Skincare Product – I have super, duper dry skin and during the winter months I find that my skin feels so tight. I discovered Rodan + Fields Active Hydration Serum which is like regular hydration serums on steroids. No lie! After 1 use you’ll notice a complete difference in the overall appearance of your skin. And whats even better is it’s for all skin types!
I’m gonna double up on this one because I also discovered Drew Barrymore’s new line of cosmetics Flower. I grabbed the lip butter in naked petal one day at Walmart and y’all, I’m so obsessed. I don’t know that I’ll ever wear anything else. It feels like chapstick going on, but is tinted and so perfect. Seriously, buy this now!
Favorite Date Night – Sadly there was no date night in January! It happens, right?? I think we will double up next month!
Favorite cocktail/mocktail – I’ve had to watch my wine intake since I started Keto. I love a good unoaked Chardonnay! I haven’t tried any mocktails and I’m assuming I wouldn’t be able to have them anyways because of the sugar, but if you know of any Keto friendly recipes, send them my way!
Favorite Target Find – Okay, y’all so I’m not sure if you know this but Target has adaptive clothing for kids. So if you have a child that has special needs like Hollis (who has a feeding tube), Cat and Jack has created a line just for our awesome kids!!
Favorite Activity – Gym Time! The actual days I go are few and far between but I get an entire hour to myself, even if I do feel like I’m going to die the entire time!
Favorite Restaurant – Once again we didn’t dine out this month… boring, but frugal. I have a new series coming to Miranda Southern called Date Nashville so hopefully in February I’ll be able to have some content to share with y’all about this amazing city!

 

Now, just click the link below and check out all the other lovely bloggers who will share with you their favorites from the month!! Thanks for reading!

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What No One Tells You about Disney Cruises

I have yet to hear anyone regret taking a Disney Cruise and you definitely won’t find that comment here. In fact when my husband and I left the Disney Dream with our two kids back in 2012, we said we would have paid MORE for the experience we all received. We have now also sailed on Disney Fantasy with our family of 5 and I can definitely say the second time around was even better!

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Regardless though there are always things to know and learn especially when you are paying top dollar. If you are a first time Disney Cruiser I hope you will gain a little insight on some of things no one really talks about when taking a Disney Cruise.

USE A DISNEY TRAVEL AGENT – In a world where everything can be bought or booked online from the comfort of your own living room this may seem like a non-sensical suggestion. BUT Disney travel agents DO NOT up-charge for booking your cruise for you and most will also offer you onboard credits for booking through their agency. That’s free money y’all do use onboard!

BUY DISNEY GIFT CARDS TO SAVE MONEY – Prior to your trip take the time buy a few (or a lot) Disney gift cards to use on board the ship. Stores like Sams, BJ’s, and Costco will have these discounts so you can save 3-5% on the gift cards themselves. Another option would be to purchase Disney gift cards at Kroger and gain the fuel points to receive a great discount on gas! I’ve heard rumor that you can pay for a Disney cruise with nothing but gift cards, however we have never done that.

FANTASTIC DINING EXPERIENCE – The Disney restaurants on board the cruise ships are so much more than just a place to get some really great food. The restaurants come to life and offer a 4D experience that you will remember for a lifetime. One of the very first things we do is find out where we are dining each night! My suggestion is don’t ditch dining for room service (unless of course you are sick), ALWAYS order multiple dishes on the menu, and bring your camera!! You don’t want to miss taking photos in these magical spaces!

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TAKE THE STAIRS – As you can imagine with so many people on board and the majority with children in tow, the elevators get backed up quickly. Don’t even try to use the ones on midship to get to the main level. Complete disaster especially during high traffic times like boarding and exiting. What I can tell you is plan to wear comfortable shoes to walk many flights of stairs or head to the aft and take an elevator from there!

INTERACTION WITH CHARACTERS – Just like at Disney World or Disney Land, you will be able to access a Character schedule of when and where they will be. But what I am referring to is REAL character interaction! The type where your kids can dance and play with characters for more than just the time it takes to get a brief snapshot. Characters will be at all of the parties making their way through the crowd shaking hands and high-fiving along the way. Inside the kids areas, character appearance happen often! They lead story time, sing and dance, and even participate in activities right along the children. On our last trip, Goofy came to one of the kids play times and danced for several songs with all the kiddos!

Oceaneer Club (kid's club) on the new Disney Dream cruise ship sailing between Florida and the Bahamas.

 

UNBELIEVABLE SHOWS – Oh the shows! If you are a theatre lover like I am, or if you simply enjoy great acting, singing, and dancing YOU WILL DIE for the shows on the Disney cruise. Every night there is a new show put on by professional actors, singers, and dancers and each one is unique to Disney cruise ships! Disney heroes and villains come to life on stage and if you are lucky enough to get a front row seat you may also get to be a part of the action. Disney holds NOTHING back in these productions, so be prepared to be moved each and every night. I mean look at these costumes!!

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LEGIT MEDICAL CARE – I hate to say this but on both of our Disney trips we had to visit the infirmary. My daughter cut her toe pretty badly on our first cruise where there toenail on her big toe was cut in half. An extremely kind cast member took us straight to the infirmary so I didn’t have find my way on the massive ship with a bleeding, screaming child. They took us back to where they examined and treated her toe. What was even more awesome was they checked in on her and even sent her a special gift to to the room. On our most recent cruise, my toddler who is fed through a feeding tube was having some skin rashes around his site. The infirmary had the exact, pretty rare medication we needed to treat his skin!

I honestly could go on and on! Our favorite vacations have been on board the Disney Cruise ships! Oh and by the way, this post isn’t sponsored!

Have you considered taking a Disney Cruise or are you currently planning one??

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This weeks Keto Dinner Menu

I’m heading into week 3 of eating Keto (high fat, moderate protein, low carb) and I’m feeling really good, honestly better than I thought I would be! Soon I’ll share why I started eating Keto (a little bit of convenience, weight loss, health reasons) and how eating this way has kept me more mentally on track. Until then I thought I would share with you what our weekly dinner menu looks like.

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All of these recipes are pinned to my KETO RECIPES board on Pinterest which you can follow here! Some of the recipes I pin do contain items like breadcrumbs, which can easily be substituted for almond flour or parmesan cheese. If you see ingredients like honey or agave, just take them out all together.

A few quick tips I’ve learned: When able to, choose organic meats and those that are higher in fat. Lean meats (like boneless skinless chicken breasts or lean ground beef) can actually increase insulin levels. You want (and need) the natural fat found in these meats. For sauces and dressings or anything ready made, make sure you are checking the label for sugars and carbs. A good rule of thumb is 1g or less of sugar and no more than 4g of carbs per serving. Dressings are super easy to make and I have some pinned to the Keto board as well!

Monday – Fajita Salads – Grill onions and bell peppers in olive oil and garlic. Season flank steak heavily with salt and pepper and season for 5 minutes on each side, finish for 10 minutes in a 350 degree oven. Slice and serve over lettuce and tomatoes, top with avocado and organic salsa. I usually will make deviled eggs to serve on the side.

Tuesday – Spinach, mushroom omelets with bacon – Sauce spinach and mushrooms in olive oil and garlic. Scramble eggs with a bit of heavy cream and salt and pepper. As the eggs are cooking, sprinkle with mozzarella cheese. After the eggs are done, add spinach and eggs. Serve with a side of bacon.

Wednesday – Salmon Patties (aka Salmon Croquettes). Season salmon with salt, pepper, and garlic powder. Add eggs, parmesan cheese, diced onion and parsley. Patties should be just wet enough to not fall apart when placed in oil. Fry about 3 minutes on each side. Serve with a Caesar salad.

Thursday – Jalapano Cheddar No Bun Burgers – Season 80/20 ground beef with salt, pepper, and garlic powder. Form into thin patties. Place cheddar and diced fresh jalapanos in the center of one patty, place another patty on top. Press sides down to seal in the cheese. Seer for 3 minutes on each side. Finish in a 350 degree oven for maybe 10 minutes (depending on the cook you prefer). Serve with a side of Brussels sprouts.

Friday – Meatballs and Marinara Sauce – Season ground beef with salt and pepper and any additional seasonings. I usually add garlic powder, dried parsley, and red pepper flakes. Add diced onion and peppers to keep moisture inside the meat. Form meatballs and place in 375 degree oven for 25 minutes. Use canned, peeled tomatoes with no sugar added. The best I have found are San Marzano. Add seasonings of choice, olive oil, and red wine vinegar. If sauce needs to be thickened, you can add some tomato paste. Serve sauce over meatballs. I will serve this was a side salad, but you could also serve with zucchini noodles.

I’m NOT a food blogger, but menus are so helpful for me! I do one big shopping trip a week stocking up on all we need. This keeps me dedicated to cooking each night at home. I will do my best to post our weekly dinner menu just in case you are eating Keto or have an interest in starting. If you have any questions, let me know! I’m learning as I go, but the education has really been what has kept me mentally on track!

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WHAT I HOPE MY CHILDREN WILL REMEMBER ABOUT ME

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Tuesday was a rough day for me. Hollis is in a “clingy” stage and there is literally not a moment in the day where he isn’t touching me or pulling at me or saying “mommy, mommy, mommy.” Simply put, it is overwhelming. I adore being the mom of 3 however lately my “job” and mom has been requiring much more than I feel I’m able to give.

I had written almost 3 paragraphs on the sacrifices of motherhood highlighting all the things I have given up in order to be what I consider “a good mom.” And just to clarify, this is MY personal list y’all, not one I’m imposing on all mothers. There is no denying I have been physically and emotionally drained. These days the calling of motherhood doesn’t always give me feelings of pride and gratitude, but rather guilt of not doing enough and shame for even needing a break.

But then Tuesday night happened.

This Is Us was back after their holiday hiatus. The show that chronicles the life of The Pearson family always draws me to tears. Who are these writers who can see directly into my soul???

This particular television show not only provides us with an interpretation of how we may be feeling in this moment of our lives, but it gives this unique perception of how we could possibly feel in the future as parents of adults. At least for me this is my view of the television show. Rebecca Pearson’s young character speaks directly to my soul each week.

In an effort to not give the episode’s storyline away, I’ll be vague. One of the adult children is struggling to find meaningful memories from his childhood with either of his parents. In the scenes you also see his mother Rebecca too is struggling with her own perceptions and memories of her life as a young mother.

As usual, I was a bundle of tears and mommy feelings when the show ended. The depiction was definitely hitting home as I have recently felt myself falling deeper and deeper into the monotony of each day. One child requires more of me which often times leaves less time for the other two. Another load of laundry here, a child on my hip there, another homework question answered, another activity to be attended, another blog to write. My reassurance to myself has been “these days will pass, it’s only a season, just get through this” and with these words I’m allowing precious moments to slip right out of my mind. Because it is the truth! It is the truth me for me, and it is also true for my children. Their days will pass, they are only this age for a short time, they will move right through this season.

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I don’t want my memories of them to be clouded with the hastiness of life and routine. I never want one of them to feel as if the other one was more important simply because of their neediness at the time.

What I do know though is that I am their earthly source of love. Their father and I are their earthly source of everything! And just as my husband and I work hard to provide for all of their physical needs, I too should be working hard at providing for all of the emotional needs. There shouldn’t be a choice between the two simply because stages of life are more difficult than others. There will always be a time when I’m stressed and tired. SUCH IS LIFE!! I can’t run away from it. But I want to hold myself accountable to the emotions I project onto my children during these seasons. I want my emotions to be more intentional and not simply a reaction from the crazy day I had.

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Lists keep me motivated and on task. Lists serve as a reminder for me, so naturally I made a list of the things I want my three children to remember about me when they become adults. My hope is that my seeing these I will become more intentional with each moment I spend with them regardless of the stresses, the chores, the schedule, or the task.

I want them to remember that I listened. On any given day I can be doing 4 things at once with a baby on my hip. I have gotten into a habit of listening with one ear while doing something else, just nodding along. I want my children to know when they want to talk I will always be there to listen. I want them to remember I was there to hear what they were saying, not to give my opinion, but simply because they were worth being heard.

I want them to remember the time. I can’t expect them remember every single moment that I try to make memorable, but I do want them to remember there was intentional time spent where we were all laughing and having fun together. I want them to remember that simply spending time together was a favorite activity of ours.

I want them to remember my positivity. Life throws us curve balls and there are days where it will seem that everything is going wrong. I want my children to see me finding a positive outlook even in a negative situation. I want them to see me choosing to smile and say “It is well with my soul.”

I want them to remember I prayed. I know I require the guidance and grace from my Heavenly Father and I want my children to know that as well. I want my life to point them directly to our Savior. I want them to remember when I was happy I sought the Lord and when I was sad I sought the Lord. I want them to know perfect prayers don’t exist and all they need is a humble heart to make their request.

I want them to remember I loved them. I almost left this one out because I feel that it goes without saying. I don’t struggle saying or expressing love to my children. I want them to remember that. I want them to remember I said I LOVE YOU often and I want them to remember I hugged them just because.

Today as I was rocking our 2 year old Hollis for his nap I took a moment and stared at his little eyes getting heavy and I started singing a song that I sang to him while he was in the NICU. “In moments like these, I sing out a song, I sing out a love song to Jesus….” During those NICU days I wasn’t sure of Hollis’s future, when or if he would ever come home. I was so very mindful of each of the moments we spent together because I never wanted to forget just in case there wasn’t a tomorrow with him. I pray that I can take that feeling into every day with each of my children and I pray they too will be able to remember moments withe me.

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