Sometimes the days are not just long…

Sometimes the days are not just long, but each minute seems impossibly multiplied and your 7:30 bedtime looms in the seemingly infinitesimal distance. I shake my head in frustration as you pull the last cutting board out of the cupboard onto the dirty kitchen floor and feel as though I’ll never again make dinner in peace. My arms ache as I hold you after you have been reaching your chubby little limbs up at me all day shrieking, “Up! Up!” with the same desperation of someone hoping to be lifted from impending doom. I cry to my own mom about how hard this motherhood thing is and how sad I am that I’m often just wishing for the day to be over. My back aches as I lay outside your open bedroom door never fully falling asleep because every loud cough and wheeze sends a spike of adrenaline through my body. The poopy diapers too numerous to count, the lack of personal freedom, and the countless trips to the doctor/urgent care/ER…have taken its toll on my heart, body, mind, and soul.

But…then there are nights like last night where the minutes and hours pass by too quickly. I am hypnotized by your belly laughs, kisses, and games of racing cars, playing tag and tug-of-war. I am able to stop and soak in the moment with you while silently praying–Wow, thank you Jesus, for letting me be the momma to this boy. I tell myself to remember this day and store up every detail in my heart to hold onto during the next tantrum/illness/clingy day because you, my son, are worth it.

cool Evs with sunglasses

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I’m still learning that motherhood is full of more highs and lows and triumphs and failures than anything else I’ve ever experienced. But it is SO worth it. It is a privilege to be molding and shaping a little boy who will someday be a man with his own family. I pray God gives us all the strength to have grace for ourselves on the days we are too impatient and yell too much, but also an unquenchable desire to keep trying to be the best parents we can be on this sacred journey.

evs and momma-bw

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Freezer Meals Cooking Project {10 Dinners + Cookies}

Over the weekend, I gathered some motivation and decided to make a bunch of meals to stock up the freezer because we have been eating too much processed convenience foods lately. It’s so hard to make healthy, homemade meals on days we both work, so I’m hoping this will help. My hubby was a trooper and helped me with this project – thank you Nick!

My freezer is looking glorious and notice the cookie dough balls on the upper right - YUM!

My freezer is looking glorious and notice the cookie dough balls on the upper right – YUM!

Before you start a freezer meal project, here are a few (possibly obvious) tips that might help:

  1. Make sure you have plenty of Ziploc gallon-size freezer bags and a sharpie marker
  2. Gather your recipes, make a grocery list and make sure you check your cupboards and pantries (you might be surprised by how many ingredients you already have in your kitchen)
  3. Go grocery shopping and buy yourself a yummy drink while you fill up your cart (my choice was an Arnold Palmer…thanks Snapple)
  4. Clean your kitchen if it’s not clean…and whose is? It’s just too hectic to start a massive cooking project in a cluttered and messy kitchen. Ain’t nobody got no time for that.
  5. Print off your recipes
  6. Label your Ziplocs and write the meal instructions on them
  7. Get cooking!

Here is a document with all the recipes I made you can click to view and print:  Freezer Recipes-MeetTheTheobalds

Bon appétit!

Baked Oatmeal (baby friendly)!

This morning I made a new baked oatmeal recipe that I found on the Thriving Home blog (one of my favorite blogs).  I tweaked the recipe a bit and didn’t add any nuts, making it a baby friendly recipe.

Nick and I both loved this for breakfast.  It had just the right amount of sweetness and was super hearty and filling.  I crumbled it up for Everson making the oatmeal like “finger food,” so he was able to feed himself. I cut the oatmeal into 9 squares and there are 7 g. of protein and 7 g. of fiber per square.  Score!

Here’s my revised version of this recipe. You’ve got to try it!

oatmeal

Ingredients:

  • 3 c. quick oats (old fashioned rolled oats would work too)
  • 1/2 c. raw sugar
  • 1/3 c. chia seeds (or flaxseed)
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/2 c. raisins
  • 1 small apple, diced
  • 1/2 c. coconut oil
  • 1 egg
  • 1 egg white
  • 1 c. fat free milk

Directions:

Preheat your oven to 375.  Lightly grease a 9×9 baking dish.

In a large bowl, mix the liquid ingredients together (milk, eggs, oil).  In a separate bowl, mix together the remaining (dry) ingredient then combine with the liquid ingredients.

Pour the mixture into your greased baking dish and bake at 375 for 20-25 minutes.

Enjoy!

Motherhood’s Greatest Surprise

kissing baby boy

Motherhood has brought me lots of weird surprises so far.  I really had no idea how little sleep you get during the early months (which feel like epochs) or that breastfeeding can be so painful.  On top of that, baby acne, cradle cap, and dried up umbilical cords can be quite alarming. But the greatest surprise of motherhood for me so far has been love.  I knew I would love my child madly and deeply, but I had no idea that he could give me so much love in return.

Perhaps it’s my own insecurities, but I have often found myself wondering in close relationships whether s/he really loves me and if so why?  That translates to my relationship with God too. I remember at summer camp one night in middle school my counselor was elaborating on how much God loves each of us and that idea started to sink in, like really started to sink into the crevices of my soul, for the very first time.  I looked at our counselor nearly incredulously and said, “He does? He really loves me??? Why?!”  It was a very shocking, but glorious revelation.

{The weird thing about blogging is that I’m having a one-sided conversation with, well I don’t know who, so while writing these words I wonder if I’m the only one who feels like this. Is it a pretty universal human experience to doubt how much close friends and family love you, yet alone how much God might love you?  I have a hunch I’m not alone in this.}

Bearing these questions and insecurities about love in mind, it has been shocking to me that this little human that was formed inside of me for 9 very long months is now a present force of love in my everyday life.  One of the sweetest experiences as Everson’s momma is how excited he gets to see me.  When I get him from his crib after a nap, his face lights up with the biggest grin like we haven’t seen each other in months.  That is, unless he woke up grumpy and crying which often happens too, but that’s what I expected.  I knew to expect crying, fussing, and poopy diapers, but no one ever warned me that my heart would nearly burst inside my chest a million times a day when I looked at my precious and wild little man.  When he’s crawling around our house at the speed of light, but suddenly notices me across the room he again lights up with so much joy.  It honestly reminds me of a groom’s face when they first see their bride walk down the aisle.  And this is after not being together for just a few minutes.  Mind blowing.  Breath taking.  Earth shattering.  That’s what this love from him is.  I mean, who on earth gets that excited to see someone after just a few minutes?  Babies with their mommas, that’s who.

bedtime snuggles

 And although I knew I would love Everson madly and deeply I didn’t know that simply rocking him in my arms singing our nightly lullaby before bed would so often bring tears to my eyes.  I get choked up as I hold this precious, dense, silly, handsome bundle of heat close to my chest as he sucks his thumb and rests his head on my shoulder, finally still after a day of near constant motion.  I tell myself to soak this in and never forget this moment.  Because all too soon we’ll have real acne problems on our hands and holding a giant Theobald boy will be completely out of the question.

Superfood Smoothie

I ran (slowly jogged) 6 miles last weekend per my half marathon training schedule. This weekend is the 7 miler.  Eek!!  After the 6 miles, I came home completely worn out and starving.  My sweet hubby had dinner planned but it wasn’t going to be ready for awhile, so I decided to whip up a delicious yet healthy smoothie that was jam-packed with protein, calcium and antioxidants.  I used some raw cacao powder in the smoothie which is crazy good for you. Have you tried this chocolate superfood goodness yet?  Raw cacao powder was recently found in a Cornell University study to have 3x the antioxidants found in green tea! It also is a mood enhancer since it contains phenylethylamine (PEA).  PEA is hard to come by…the only other “food” that contains this mood enhancer is blue-green algae. I don’t know about you, but I’m not a big algae eater, but I’ll eat chocolate any day.  You can find raw cacao powder at natural food stores and some regular grocery stores or you can just have it shipped to your house like I did.  Gotta love my Amazon Prime (Amazon doesn’t pay me, but seriously they should).

cacao

If you want to read a long list of even more reasons why you should eat cacao…check out this article!

Ok, now here’s the recipe:

note: this has that bitter, dark chocolate taste (which I love), but if you’re looking for something sweeter just add more honey, Honey.

image (1)

One life overhaul, please?

I kind of love and hate when the New Year rolls around. It’s full of exciting promise of a fresh new year to try to get things right. But it’s also daunting because we know the success rate for achieving our resolutions is abysmal. According to Forbes, a mere 8% of people achieve their New Year’s resolutions. Yikes!

After years of flaking out on resolutions, last year I decided to not make a resolution. I figured why bother when I’m just going to fail again?

But this year I decided to be ambitious yet again!  I was thinking about all the things I want to change in my life.  I want to eat better, exercise more, grow closer to Jesus, work harder, read more, and the list could go on… I was praying about all these changes I need to make this morning and it hit me that I need a major overhaul on my life, or at least that is how I feel.  That can feel pretty discouraging and daunting, but then I was reminded that God is all about making things new.  That’s the beauty of the Gospel right? We don’t have to be “good enough” and it’s impossible to earn our way to Heaven.  That’s why Jesus came, to stand in our place as the perfect sacrifice for all our shortcomings, if we accept Him as our Savior.  I am so thankful for the encouraging truths in Lamentations 3:22-23 “The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.”

new mercy and love

God is good and offers you and me unceasing love and mercy. He is faithful.

Here are my goals for the year ahead.  I wanted to make a super long list, but decided to condense my “life overhaul” down to 3 things. 🙂

  1. Grow closer to Jesus (get in the Word more and grow in spiritual disciplines)
  2. Run a half marathon
  3. No fried food–except 1 monthly indulgence, which will likely be pommes frites (aka french fries-indulgences always sound classier in French).

What are some of your goals for 2014?

*Snow Flakes & Comfort Food*

We woke up to a lot of snow yesterday.  Denver is in a deep freeze. Today temperatures dipped to -15° which ties the all time low for this day.  Being stuck inside all day makes one go a bit stir crazy, so in an effort to fight the craziness…Everson and I had a little winter wonderland adventure and did some Christmas cookie baking.

photo 1

Not so sure about the snow at first…

photo 3

He ended up really enjoying the winter wonderland!photo 5

Nick has had a jam-packed week with work and school, so Everson and I decided to make his favorite Christmas cookies as a little surprise for him to come home to last night after youth group. This cookie could really be made all year round but it’s a recipe his grandma always makes at Christmas time. She is over 90 and still bakes these cookies each year!  These are oh so unhealthy, but amazingly delicious. Total worth the calories for a holiday treat, if you ask me! 😉

The best cookie helper!

The best cookie helper!

**Andes Mint Surprise Cookies**

Ingredients:

  • 3 c. flour
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 c. butter, room temperature
  • 1/2 c. shortening
  • 1 c. granulated sugar
  • 1/2 c. brown sugar, packed
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tbsp. water
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 9 oz. Andes Mints
  • 56 walnut halves, optional (but not for Nick)

Directions: 

Sift together flour, baking soda, and salt; set aside. Beat together butter and shortening in bowl of an electric mixer on medium-high speed until fluffy. Add sugars; beat thoroughly. Add eggs, water, and vanilla extract, beating until well blended. Add flour mixture, beating until just combined. Cover bowl; refrigerate at least 2 hours.

Heat oven to 375°. For each cookie, form 1 tbsp. dough with your hands to enclose 1 chocolate mint; place cookies on baking sheet about 2″ apart. Press dough down lightly; top with walnut half, if using. Bake until golden, about 10-12 minutes per batch.

56 cookies (Note:  That’s how many Grandma Marie makes with this recipe.  I, on the other hand, seem incapable of making small cookies, so I usually get about 3 dozen from this recipe.)

The luxury of HOME.

I sing Christmas carols all year long. For real.  If you don’t believe me…just ask my husband or ask Everson who has been subjected to Christmas songs since his birth in February (although his limited language skills might make responding difficult).  I love December because it’s the time of year everyone is finally singing Christmas songs along with me!  You can’t avoid hearing them on the radio and at department stores.  One song you are sure to hear throughout this month is the old classic, “Home for the Holidays.” The cheery chorus of this song goes like this:

Oh, there’s no place like home for the holidays,
For no matter how far away you roam –
When you long for the sunshine of a friendly gaze,
For the holidays – you can’t beat home, sweet home!

When you hear the word “home” what memories or emotions does the word evoke?  For many of us, we think of not only a specific place where we spent our childhood, but we also think of comfort, warmth, and happy memories.  Of course, every family has their share of conflict and goes through difficult seasons, but most of us are fortunate enough to carry in our pocket a flood of happy memories.  For me, the holidays always remind me of fun family traditions like hanging Christmas tree ornaments, eating homemade caramel corn, and eating my Grandma’s tourtiere before Christmas Eve mass.  When I think of “home” I also recall card games, a big sledding hill, Sunday soccer games, and roast turkey feasts.  Home has been a constant in my life, a guaranteed place of stability that I have never had to question.

Through my experiences at Street’s Hope, the non-profit where I recently started volunteering, I am learning that I should never take home for granted.  For those unfamiliar with Street’s Hope, their mission is to “provide holistic restorative services to women escaping sex trafficking and the commercial sex industry and to nurture the resilience needed to heal, transform and thrive.” Street’s Hope is a faith-based nonprofit, so they also offer spiritual support to the women if they so desire.

I recently had the privilege of attending one of Street’s Hope’s client celebration events.  We were able to celebrate the victorious achievement of a woman who has completed the one-year residential program, while also celebrating the other residents’ progress.  We honored their efforts to find healthy, safe employment, their hard work in trauma therapy, and their sobriety milestones.  We were able to speak affirmation into the lives of each of these women and they were also able to share encouraging words with each other.

One of the residents, a middle-aged woman, was honored for 100 days of sobriety and many shared their admiration for all the hard work she has already undergone on her road to recovery.  I do not know the details of this woman’s story, but I know enough to say her life has been a nightmarish existence marked by unconscionable abuse and exploitation.  After we celebrated this woman’s achievements, she told us she wanted to share something.  She then proceeded to say that the night she first came to Street’s Hope and knocked on the door our overnight staff welcomed her in with a warm smile and she new for the first time that she was home.  She said—I’ve never had a home before. Street’s Hope is the first place I’ve ever truly felt at home.

Can you imagine living a life without having a place to call home?  Can you imagine not having a place to go to for the holidays or simply to rest and reconnect with those you love?  Can you imagine a childhood where you never once had a home where you felt loved and safe? If you are as fortunate as I am, you really can’t fully imagine that and you hardly even want to try.  It’s nice living in a bubble of safety, security, predictability and comfort.  But working at Street’s Hope has forced me more than ever before to look outside of my privileged bubble to see the darkness and devastation around me.

Before working at Street’s Hope, I was aware of sex trafficking. I heard speakers talk about trafficking in college, I had read articles on the topic, and I had researched and written about sex trafficking for a criminology class.  I had heard the (estimated) numbers…

2.5 million people are being trafficked at any time

1.2 million children are trafficked each year

Global trafficking brings in $31.6 billion in profits each year

These statistics are horrifying, yet there is something about actually knowing one of these victims—learning their name, looking into their eyes, hearing their voice—that makes all these numbers penetrate so much deeper.  There is also so much beauty in seeing victims who have had so much healing and life transformation.  Hearing their stories about coming to Christ and experiencing His love and redemption makes my love and faith in Jesus that much stronger.  So yes, there is darkness, but there is also so much hope and healing.

I now know that I not only want to do something to fight trafficking, but I have to do something.  I think we all need to be abolitionists whether that means committing to pray for modern slavery to end, volunteering our time at an organization that serves these victims, donating money, or helping raise awareness.  My prayer is that we all do something.

“If to be feeling alive to the sufferings of my fellow-creatures is to be a fanatic, I am one of the most incurable fanatics ever permitted to be at large.” – William Wilberforce

It’s that chili time of year

The fall leaves are well, falling, and the air is getting chilly.  Our fantasy football league is getting quite heated and I have made pumpkin and butternut squash everything.  Yesterday, I decided it was time for some white chicken chili.  I’ve already made several batches of Crock Pot Chicken Taco Chili this fall (so delicious), but it was high time for some white chicken chili goodness.

So I made Shauna Niequist’s White Chicken Chili recipe.  I have recently been reading her book Bread and Wine: a Love Letter to Life Around the Table, which is a lovely book of reflections and recipes.  My sister-in-law recommended it to me and now I plan to highly recommend it to anyone and everyone! So, read it, then make her white chicken chili because it was easy, delicious, and makes for great leftovers!

Here’s the link to her recipe –  http://shaunaniequist.com/white-chicken-chili/.

whitechickenchili

P.S. What’s your favorite chili recipe?!

*above image via here

We all want the same thing.

I’m sitting in my bedroom in my parent’s home right now as my baby sleeps and the house is empty except for the two of us and our 13-year-old dog Paddy.  It’s a strange thing to sleep in a room you spent nearly every day in from the ages of 5 to 18.  Most everything is still the way I left it…the scrapbooks, the pictures from birthday parties and homecoming dances, my vintage drinking glasses, and the Ramona Cleary book collection.  But the even stranger thing is that Paddy is in my room with me.

An old picture of a much younger pup.

An old picture of a much younger pup.

I grew up in a long ranch style home and at a very young age my Grandpa taught our dog not to go on the white carpet in our home in order to keep that carpet clean.  The white carpet covers the latter half of the house including the hallway leading to all the bedrooms.  Paddy learned this rule quickly and stuck by it always.  He never stepped foot over that invisible barrier.  He even sat in silence as other dogs that visited my parents home (*ahem* my dogs) have violated the law he has lived by for so many years, prancing their way down the hall of white carpet sniffing out the rooms and sleeping with their masters.  Paddy lived by this rule for over a decade.

And then one day…he had had enough!  My parents went to bed and Paddy followed them down the hallway.  A few minor attempts were made to keep him from going on the white carpet, but they were quickly abandoned.  Everyone knew Paddy had put in the time and now he was an old dog that could sleep wherever the heck he pleased.  It was breaking news.

Knowing he now sleeps on my parent’s floor at night, I was surprised to see him sleeping near my feet while I watched a movie tonight in the family room.  He used to always sleep in the family room, so I figured he was planning to spend the night out there since my parent’s are out of town.  But, when I headed down the hallway to go to bed, Paddy followed me.  He laid right down on my floor and went to sleep.  I can’t tell you how thrilled this would’ve made me as a kid! (Sleeping with your dog felt like the American Dream to me back then)

It struck me that Paddy wants to be with me.  He wants to spend his nights knowing somebody is right nearby.  Of course, he does.  And I do too.

We all want the same thing.