Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Runners Gonna Run

I'm going to need you to cue up the theme from Rocky while you read this. Got it?  Good.

Last Saturday, we strapped on our sneakers and hit the pavement for a 5K.  And we ran.  RAN.  Let me just go ahead and tell you that I don't do that.  Don't.  Like, eva. But I did it on Saturday.

And I did it largely (Ok, let's try almost completely) because my sister was right beside me the whole way telling me that we could do it.  Crazy thing: we could.  And did.  Nothing stopped us.

Not the cold.
Who needs to feel their fingers? 

Not the fact that I needed to pee about a quarter mile in.
Really, every tree and overgrown area looked like prime real estate to me. 

Not even all those voices in our own minds telling us to stop, that we couldn't, that it was OK if we didn't.
Because, really, it would have been OK if we didn't.  

But we did.

There is no part of me that liked running.  There is no part of me that thinks running is all that much fun or a good time or something I just can't do without.  But, I will tell you this: when I got to that finish line, and I knew that I had not stopped running from the time I had started until I had reached 3.1 miles, it was the best feeling ever.

Like, eva.

My legs may have felt like they could no longer support my body weight, and I may have had a strong urge to hurl, but I was also enveloped with such euphoria that it's pretty hard to put it into words.  I felt so good.  And I don't think that word is too simple to use here.  It. Felt. Good.

I grinned all day.  That is, until that euphoria wore off and the tops of my legs began to hurt so badly I could barely bend them to sit down.  Getting in and out of the car that night was quite the challenge and the way I backed into all my evening's seating choices looked much like it did when I was extremely pregnant.

But that's how it goes.  Or so I've been told.  Apparently, the way to avoid feeling like that is to run more.  More, they say!  More often.  Longer distances.  More.

Meh, we'll see.

I think I'll give it a go.  Why not?  It seems I've already shown that I can.

-Jess


Thursday, November 20, 2014

Baby, It's Cold Outside...so eat chili!

It's crazy cold right now.  And nothing goes with crazy cold like the warm goodness of chili. There are about one million (give or take a thousand) chili recipes readily available via the internet, Pinterest or your mama.

When I went looking for one the other day I got a tad overwhelmed by all the choices.  I'm not really a multiple choice kind of gal. Too many options is not good for me--no matter what I'm trying to choose.  Just ask my husband about my panic at trying to navigate the lengthy Made-to-Order Menu at Sheetz.  

Full.  Mental.  Meltdown.  Seriously, it gets ugly, folks.

But back to chili.  

After spending far too much time looking through too many online recipes and perfectly wonderful blogs about the yummy goodness that is your basic chili recipe, I decided to go rogue and create my own.  I took some things I liked from several I'd seen, some things I already had on hand, and the rest I got from raiding the canned veggie aisle.  Yes, canned.  And preferably pre-seasoned.  I live for ease.  Live. For. It. 

The result was really stinking good.  The only bad thing?  We could have fed a small army.  The recipe below is just as I made it.   If you're don't need a large quantity, or don't do so well with leftovers, just cut it back some.  

*Recipe notes at bottom 

Jessica's Slow Cooker Chili 
(When you make up your own, you name gets to go in the title.  
It's the little things.) 

Ingredients:
  • 1 lb ground turkey meat, browned & drained
  • Medium Onion
  • 1.5 Tablespoons Chili powder
  • 1/2 Tablespoon Black pepper
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 28 Oz. can Mild Rotel, drained
  • 15 Oz. can black beans, drained and rinsed 
  • 15 Oz. can corn, drained
  • 15 Oz. can dark red kidney beans, drained
  • 29 Oz. can tomato sauce (I used Hunt's Basil, Garlic & Oregano)
  • 14.5 Oz. can diced tomatoes, drained (I used Del Monte Basil, Garlic & Oregano)
  • 16 Oz. can chili beans in mild sauce, NOT drained
  • 6 Oz. tomato paste (I used Contadina brand with Roasted Garlic) 
  • 1/2 a 14.5 can of Beef Broth 
Combine everything into your slow cooker and give it a good stir.  Let it heat on Low for 6-8 hours.  Eat up!!  

Notes:
  • This chili is not overly "meaty" and could easily go all-veggie.  In fact, I think that's how I will make it next time.  
  • Speaking of the meat, the beef broth gives it a heartier flavor, which is nice seeing as ground turkey can be rather, well, bland.  
  • There is absolutely no reason to add salt.  Do not do it.  'Kay?
  • Confession:  My spice measurements may be a tad off.  Or I could have lied completely.  Basically, I shake those little containers until I like what I see.  Feel free to do the same.  
I hope you enjoy!! 

Sorry there's no picture.  But I'm pretty sure most of you know what chili looks like.  I will have a post coming up in a few days about stuffed sweet potatoes.  Complete with a picture to make your mouth water.  

-Jessica 







Friday, October 31, 2014

Slow Down In My Neighborhood!!!!!!

For the love of chocholate... Please slow down when driving through neighborhoods especially tonight!!!!!!


I guess it's just part of growing up or maybe it's because I am now a mom but I am super aware of people flying through my neighborhood. And these lunitics scare me!!! An accident can happen in the blink of an eye and your speed can play a major role in the outcome! Tonight there will be kids everywhere in all kinds of costumes and all jacked up on sugar, please watch out for them!!


Halloween Safety Tips:
- Make sure your costume is bright in color! Reflectors are an added perk!
- Bring a flashlight or glow stick to help you see where you are going and to help drivers see you!
- Always look both ways before crossing the street!
- Watch out for cars backing out of driveways.
- Stick to houses/neighborhoods you know.


Have a safe and happy Halloween! 


<3 Rachel

 

  

Friday, October 24, 2014

Check Out My Curves- It's For A Good Cause;)

In honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month select Curves locations are offering a $10 punch card that allows you to work out 10 times between now and November 15th! This is a great offer (10 workouts for $10) and a great cause!!!!

  • Cards must be bought before 10/31/2014.
  • Every dollar collected is donated to breast cancer research or care.
  • No enrollment or membership fees required.
  • Only one punch card per person
  • No it is not just old women that go to Curves!!!!!
I attend the Curves at 40/42 (across from the Snoopy's)!! I really enjoy working out at Curves! It is a women only environment with no judgement! I see women of all shapes and sizes that are just wanting to get fit!

<3 Rachel

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Dear, Husband

For the past five years--five years today, actually--I've been blessed to call you Husband.  You've been my friend for much longer.  My Love for what feels like forever.  And my partner in all things until the end.  

Husband, it's been a journey.  There are parts of our story that only you and I know.  Inside jokes.  Secrets.  Things.  And there are things that I hope that everyone else can see.  How much I love you.  How much I like you.  Even on days when I don't.  

Because there are times when it's hard to like even the one I love the most. And I know that I'm not always likable.  But there has never been one minute, since the first second I realized I loved you, that I haven't adored you.

I love that your main goal is to make me smile.  Even when that is the last thing I want to do.  I love how hard you  work for our family even though I sometimes hate it, too.

You are every love song that I've ever heard on country radio.  Every old tune by Alabama.  All the good ones by George Strait. And you are all the ones that haven't been written, because they will all make me think of you.  Like you are why they were created. For me to ride shotgun and sing along to as you drive.

Through town.  Through life.  

You and I are not the same.  Not mirror images.  But we agree where it matters the most. In our faith, our morals and our standards. I mean, come on, we picked each other.  Even if by doing so we picked some hard roads along the way.  And fought some tough battles.  I'd fight them again.  I'd pick you again.  

And again.  
And again.  

And we created something pretty amazing in the form of a boy that calls you Daddy.  I love him in a way that I never thought possible.  But it is different from my love for you.  You, Husband, will always be my favorite. My Number One.  He will one day grow and leave.  Find a love and life all his own. And you will always be Mine.  

When this life is done, I will look back and say that despite all the things I had done wrong--and there were many--I did right by loving you.  And taking your last name when you offered.  And making it mine.  

Blessed.  
Loved.  
Happy.  
To the rest of our lives...

--Your Wife
Jessica

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Two Broke Bloggers: Fall Art Project (Butt Painting)

We did some painting here at the Potts' house and  made the cutest dang pumpkin I have ever seen!

This was a project inspired by Pinterest of course and cost under $10 to make (frame not included).

My sister-in-law, Lindsey helped me tackle the craft store to find the perfect non-toxic finger paint and white cardstock paper. On the ride home we plotted our task.... You see these pumpkins were made by using Jett's butt as a stamp:) So we planned that I would hold him while she painted the paint on his bum using a paintbrush. We made 4 pumpkins so we painted and stamped a few times.
We had to mix the red and yellow to make orange as our kit did not come with an orange paint! (My elementary school art teachers would be so proud!!)!
Lindsey painted the stumps and twigs on the pumpkins using a Q-Tip while I bathed Jett. And there you have it- a quick, cheap and sooo precious fall art project!

*Our husbands thought we were crazy and so did the grandparents- but those grandmas were all excited to know we made one for them too!

**The frame came from Wal-Mart and was $10-$12.

<3 Rachel

Friday, October 10, 2014

Smile, it's about Food!


I was crabby yesterday.  Downright irritable even. 

So I started writing this blog post—mostly in my head—about three really simple things that have made me really simply happy lately.  And wouldn't you know?  They were all about food. 

So here you have it. Three food things to make you smile.  Big. 

Siggi's Yogurt 

I love good food and I really love it when it's also good for you.  I eat yogurt at least once a day.  But when I started really thinking about the brand I'd been eating (a store one) and the artificial sweeteners in it, I was getting a bit creeped out.  Look, I'm not a stickler for all things natural, all the time.  However, if I can do better in a certain area, I do.  It's like with my coffee.  I put real cream in it.  Does it have more fat than that non-fat, sugar-free stuff you can buy?  Absolutely.  But do you know what the ingredients are in cream?  Cream.  You know what the ingredients are in that other stuff? Gross.  

Anyway, Siggi's only has a few ingredients and I can pronounce them all.  It has a thicker consistency, more like a Greek yogurt but without that tart taste.  I'm not really a fan of Greek yogurt.  It's fine for mixing into things, but alone, not so much.  

Siggi's main downfall would be the price.  As with most things good for you, it costs too much.  So I get it when it goes on sale.  And then I wait anxiously for my mid-afternoon snack.  



Blueberry Muffin Overnight Oats

Picture by creme de la crumb blog
I eat pretty much the same thing every day for breakfast.  Hey, if it ain't broke, right?  Well, sometimes I need to switch it up a bit.  But finding something I can make that is fast, easy and not terrible for me, can be a challenge.  

I've been eyeing these overnight oatmeal recipes for a while on Pinterest.  This past weekend I finally gave one a shot.  Let me just say, that name says it all.  This stuff really does taste like a blueberry muffin!  

I thought I might be a bit weirded out by eating cold oatmeal, but it was so stinking good.  Check out the original blog post on it at the blog creme de la crumb.  Cute name, right?  

Here's the skinny:

Combine:
1/2 cup almond milk
1/2 cup old fashioned oats (not quick oats)
6 oz blueberry Greek yogurt (one personal container is a little less than this--just use that, it's enough)
A few drops of vanilla extract
1 tablespoon sugar-free dry vanilla pudding mix

Put it in a container with a lid in the fridge for at least 4 hours or overnight.  Eat up!  

The original recipe calls for cinnamon that I did not use, additional blueberries that I did not use and Cornflake-like cereal that I did not use.  You, however, are welcome to do whatever you want.  Enjoy!  


Nancy Jo's Homemade
Clayton, NC

This last one is my favorite.  I've got a bit of a sweet tooth.  Whatever, I just like food.  And Nancy Jo's is a small, hometown bakery in downtown Clayton, NC that offers up all things sweet and yummy to make you smile.  

The goodies they sell are not good for you.  They do not help you lose weight.  They are made with things like butter and sugar and all things fattening and sweet.  

And you know what?  There ain't nothing wrong with that.  Because sometimes a girl just needs a brownie.  Or piece of cake.  Or homemade fudge or toffee. And Nancy Jo's has you covered.

The rum cake is almost too good and the maple fudge is amazing.  And I don't even like fudge!  At all!  The red velvet cake did not disappoint and the 12-layer chocolate cake (pictured on their flyer) is a Cerame Family favorite.  My boys love it!    

I am, however, getting a bit disturbed by the fact that I've taste tested just about everything in the bakery.   Except the chocolate covered cherries.  I'm not a fan of those no matter who makes them so you'll have to take Steven's word for it that those are good.  

There are five locations for you to choose from in North Carolina--Clayton, Clinton, Greensboro, Oak Island and Raleigh.  Go see them at your closest one and get some sweets and treats for your upcoming Christmas party or gifts bags!  

Steven and I have been blessed to meet and become friends with the owners of Nancy Jo's and let me tell you, the desserts are wonderful, but they don't hold a candle to the people that make them. And I'm not just saying that because they've given me free fudge.  It's just true.  

And there really isn't anything sweeter than good friends, now is there?  Well, except maybe that maple fudge.  

--Jessica 







Thursday, October 2, 2014

Why I Unfriended Facebook


Let me go ahead and say that this is not a post about how Facebook is evil and the decline of all things good in our society.  Society was doing an awfully good job with declining long before Facebook came along. 

And I don’t believe that Facebook is evil.  I mean, I’m going to guess that the vast majority of you that are
reading this right now arrived here from me posting it on the very Facebook I claim to not be so chummy with anymore.  

I still use Facebook from time to time.  I clearly put up all our new blog postings.  When I receive notices that someone has tagged me in something or sent me a message, I go take a look.  I might even comment from time to time.  Throw a "like" your way if the mood strikes.  But it is far more common that I go days, and sometimes weeks, without scrolling through the newly updated statuses, shared stories and screen swipe after screen swipe of photos.

And it's not because I don't care about your children's pictures (I love them, actually.) or that you had an amazing vacation (I'm really glad you did!) or what you had for dinner (OK, sometimes I do and sometimes I don't.  You win some, you lose some.).    

Look, I used to peruse Facebook all the time.  I was one of those people that checked it so often that there was often nothing new to see from the last time I had the app open on my phone.  It was a habit, a time filler, and a pretty good way to find out just enough about people to not have to have an actual relationship with them.  

You know what I mean.  There are dozens, maybe even hundreds of "friends" that you've collected on Facebook that you're not really friends with.  And really, that's OK for the most part.  There is nothing wrong with being Facebook friends with someone that you're not really that tight with and getting a little insight into their everyday life.  After all, they invited you in, right?  Or at least, accepted the invite you sent them.  

And for all it's aggravations (random ads, changing rules, constant negative posts, etc.) Facebook is really quite awesome for reconnecting with people that you knew once upon a time.  The best friend from elementary school that you swore you'd write to "every day" when her dad got that new job three states away.  Friends from high school and college that found lives other places.  Or maybe that was you--the one that went away and found that keeping in touch just wasn't as easy as we all thought it would be when we wrote it over and over in yearbooks and on the backs of tiny, wallet-sized pictures.  

The problem with Facebook isn't in having lots and lots of "friends" or even in being on it often.  It comes when you start thinking you know everything about someone based on a few pictures and random comments they make about football games, political affiliations, the latest diet craze or shoes.  And when I say you, I mean Me.  

My constant Facebooking was altering how I was seeing people in general.  And I didn't like it.  I found myself becoming more judgmental of others' lives, and how they chose to live them.  I was mentally critiquing their actions, their opinions and sometimes, amazingly petty as it sounds, what they wore.  

I kind of freaked out a little when I realized that I was being a jerk.  Even if I was only being a jerk in my own head.   So I backed off--way off--from my daily Facebook time. As in, I stopped looking all together.
 I need a breather.  A minute to stop knowing everything about everyone.  Or at least thinking I did.    

What someone chooses to share on any social media is really only a small glimpse into a much bigger picture.  And the only way to know the whole picture is to get to know the whole person.  You know, like, actually talk to them.  Ask them questions and care about answers.  Have a relationship with them.  

And that, dear readers, can be hard.  That's the beauty of Facebook.  I can think I know all about you because you post once a day how you hate your job and love your child.  So I can assume your boss is terrible and you're an amazing mom.  But it takes a lot more effort to know why you're unhappy and learn your daughter's middle name and if she's allergic to milk.  Do you want a change or just need a break?  Is Dora queen in your house or Doc McStuffins?  

I'm not saying Facebook kept me from being a good real friend.  Or that it made me judgmental   I'm saying it allowed the parts of me that might not be so great, to grow a bit.  And they began to take over.  And I had to get that in check.    

It's funny how many conversations people want to have with you that start with the words "so did you see on Facebook..."  And it's funny how people assume they've told you something or that you know about situations and tidbits of their lives because they've posted them up for everyone to see.  They forget you're not really part of the "everyone" anymore.   Or maybe they haven't realized yet.  And I'm not saying there's anything wrong with them.  But I've made a choice to generally exclude myself from something that most people do very naturally.   And it seriously throws them for a loop.  

In the end, "unfriending" Facebook has been a really great decision for me.  Now, on the rare occasion that I
do check it out, it's just more fun again.  To be honest, I'm more into it for the pictures, so I'm sorry if I skip over a lot of your status updates.  And I don't have Messenger on my phone anymore so if you've tried to send me a private note, I can't read it.  But I'll give you my email.  Or my phone number.  

You know, if you'd like to talk.  

Or be friends.  For real.  




Wednesday, September 24, 2014

I'm No Cheater.


A lot of thoughts ran through my head after my accident last Wednesday.  (You can read about that here.) 

We are so blessed to be ok.
That could have been so much worse.
I can’t wait to see my Jack. 
Is there a cookie anywhere?

Wait, what?

Yeah, that’s right.  I was thinking food.  In fact, the first thing I did after looking in on my sweet boy sleeping, was head to the kitchen and eat a mini chocolate chip muffin.  We never have those readily available in our house.  Someone knew I was going to need some sugar comfort. 

I don’t think any of you would be overly shocked to learn that I’ve found comfort in food throughout the years.  It’s been there for me when I was at my worst and my best.  Treats, candies and good meals have been my shoulder to cry on and my reward for jobs well done.  Eating my emotions was pretty delicious; I ain’t gonna lie.  And it also led me to the heaviest and unhealthiest I had ever been. 

You’ve heard that quote by some underweight model: “nothing tastes as good as skinny feels.”  Well that’s crap.  She’s clearly never eaten half the stuff I have.  But I will give her this, she was on the right basic track.  Maybe we should switch it up some: Nothing tastes as good as being healthy feels.

And that’s why I don’t diet. 

Say what?

Yeah.  You heard me. 

The assumption is that because I have lost weight that I’ve been on some type of diet to do it.  Most people think I’m on Weight Watchers or countless fad diets they have heard of.  Believe me, I’ve tried lots of diets.  And some of them have worked, and worked well.   At least for a while.  But none of them have stuck with me for the long haul.  Because none of them changed my life and how I live it.  A diet won’t do that.  I had to. 

Now I’m not knocking the big WW.  I know that it works for lots of people and I think that’s awesome.  It just wasn’t for me.  And a lot of those diets that are so popular right now are based on some good principles that can really benefit your health and weight loss goals.  Just be sure to get the facts behind what you’re doing.

Because everyone thinks I’m on a diet of some kind, they have funny reactions to the sight of me eating what they consider “normal food.”  For instance, I was at a birthday party not too long ago and I ate a piece of cake and had some ice cream.  You know, because it was a birthday party and that’s what you do.  And I love cake and eating it is what I do.  Someone said to me, “don’t worry I cheated on my diet today, too.” 

I didn’t take a offense.  I know what they meant.  But I wasn’t cheating.  I was eating.  Was the piece of cake as big as one I would have eaten a year ago?  No.  Did I share the ice cream with my child instead of getting my own bowl?  Yeah, so, no.  In hindsight that may have been the better option, but whatever.  It was a small bowl. 

Food is not my enemy.  How I used it eat it is.  A piece of cake every now and then or big ol’ slice of pizza is not going to ruin your life.  It’s when you eat those things and then take that as permission to eat nothing BUT those things from then on, that you get in trouble. 

The truth of the matter is that I don’t eat everything I used to eat.  But that’s because I made the decision that certain things are not worth it to me anymore.  If doughnuts come in to the office, I don’t eat one.  I consciously make the decision.  Or if I just gotta have one, I cut off a fourth of it and eat it.  Then I walk away.  Quickly.  Because we all know doughnuts are a gateway drug.  You eat one bite, and before you know it, you’ve downed half a dozen. 

I’ve made up rules for myself that work.  Because they are ones I can stick with. 

Some examples:

  • Desserts at work are eaten with my dessert spoon.  I allow myself one spoon’s worth so I can taste the new stuff.  If I’ve eaten it before, I walk away.  That doesn’t mean it’s not delicious.  It just means I don’t need it. 
  •  After coffee in the  morning, it’s water, water, water.  The only time I have anything else is at meals.  And then it is limited to unsweet tea (an acquired, but now loved taste), green tea (had just after every meal) and lightly sweetened lemonade (on occasion.) 
  • Every meal does not need a side of bread.  In fact, meals don’t really NEED bread at all.  Sigh.  (PS—I’m not anti-carbs.  I love carbs.)
  • Red meat, shmed-meat.  If there is a veggie or turkey version, I’m on it.  Black bean burgers are amazing! 
  • Real is better than fake.  Look, cutting down on sugar is a must.  But if you need something to be sweetened up a bit, use real sugar instead of sugar substitutes.  Just don’t use the whole container.
  • I stay away from things that give me permission to go crazy.  I know if I eat a half handful of M&M’s, I’m going to go back two, three, ten times.  So I stay away.  Be self aware.  And own it. 
  • If I have a day where I go overboard, I let it go.  No one is perfect.  Bad days happen.  Shoot, bad weekends happen.  Let.  It. Go.  Sing it, Elsa! 

Right  now I’m not able to work out because of the accident.  Doctor’s orders.  The old me would kind of love that.  The me that I am now is hating it.  My body really wants to move!  But I know that moving too much could really result in hurting myself more than helping me.  Plus, I tried to do yoga the other morning—poorly—and regretted it all day. 

So, with that in mind, I’ve got to be pretty mindful of my eating habits.  I might have needed that chocolate chip muffin on Wednesday night, and that maple fudge on Friday (look out for a whole blog post on where that come from in the near future), but it’s pretty easy to fall back into old habits.  Get back in with the wrong crowd.  Can you just hear those potato chips calling, telling me that lie that I can stop at just one…bag?

I’ve gotten pretty good at ignoring the taunts. 

After all, I’m no cheater.  The only one I’d be cheating is me.  And I’ve come too far and am far too fabulous for such nonsense. 

-Jessica 

Friday, September 19, 2014

Jesus, Take the Wheel


This week has truly been another example of mixed blessings.  I guess they all are, if we’re honest. 

After work on Wednesday my friend Mandy and I went to say goodbye to  Granny B.  I don’t remember not knowing my best friend Tiffany’s grandmother.  She’s just been a fixture in my life; always there, always smiling, so sweet.  I’ve known Tiffany since we were little kids and Granny is someone that’s woven into my past.  There was nowhere else for me to be on that night but with the people that loved her best. 

It is all very raw and new for them now.  I don’t suppose there is ever an easy time to say goodbye to someone we love.  But I did love looking at all the pictures of the life she had lived.  It was a good one.  Filled with so much love.  So many smiles. Granny can be proud of the life she lived.  And I’m sure she’s laughing where she is now. 

When Mandy and I left, we grabbed a quick bite to eat and then jumped back on I-95 to head home.  We were chatting away as we always do, when I looked in my side mirror just in time to see the tractor trailer beside us switching lanes right into my driver’s side rear bumper. 

My car spun to the left, causing the front of the truck to connect with the driver’s door.  And then it began to push.  Looking out of my window, I was staring into the grill of a tractor trailer, and we were still moving.  The car began to bounce and all I could think was, “he’s coming up over us.”  It wasn’t a panicked thought, but one that made every muscle in my body brace for the roll of the car. 

And then it didn’t roll. 

My Ford Escape sort of dislodged, for lack of a better word, wiggled away, if you want more of a visual, from the front of the truck and we were able to pull over to the side of the road.  Very shaken.  Very scared.  Not hurt. 

Not hurt?  

We had just been hit—twice, really—by a tractor trailer, and we weren’t hurt. 

After we asked each other about 50 times if we were ok, we found the hazard lights on the car and began calling people.  Husbands, 911, in that order.  Then Mandy emailed her boss.  Because she’s that girl and I love her for it. 

The driver of the truck came up quickly and was just as shaken as we were.  When he realized Mandy was pregnant (Yes, 21 weeks.  Did I not mention that?) he had a slight panic attic.  But we were ok. 

The First Responders arrived and I could not sing their praises any higher.  Bless the Eastover Fire Department and the EMS crew that came and took such great care of us.  They talked to us and helped bring about a level of calm that I don’t know we could have achieved on our own. 

My sweet Steven showed up and gave me the best hug I think I’ve ever gotten. 

And no one seemed to be able to understand how we didn’t roll, how we were ok. 

We knew. 

It wasn’t my driving.  I didn’t drive.  As soon as that truck hit us, my feet came off both the break and the gas and one of my arms went to Mandy.  Funny, she did the “Mom-grab” to me, too.  I eventually had both hands on the wheel, but really, I let that car go where it wanted.  I didn’t drive anything.  But someone did. 

We didn’t scream or yell when we got hit.  We were quiet actually, except for two things.  Mandy saying, “we’re ok,” over and over.  And then saying, “Lord help us.  Jesus help us.”  And that’s exactly what happened.  God took care of us.  Made sure we were ok. 

People keep saying that it could have been so much worse.  The truth is that it should have been. 

But it wasn’t.  And it’s because that was not His plan.  There are no mistakes.  What happened, happened for a reason.   Exactly what it is, we may not know yet.  Or maybe it was just so I would write this, and tell you about our amazing God, that let us go toe-to-toe with a tractor trailer in a little SUV and walk away. 

Praise. 

-Jessica



P.S. As a little public service announcement, please take a look at the below diagram.  It shows blind spots that Tractor Trailer drivers have to deal with.  Give them space and be mindful of where you are.  


Sunday, September 14, 2014

Becoming wanna-be “runners”






Ok, so in case you were wondering who is the trouble maker behind the scenes here at C&C- it is so Jessica! I know, I know, I know- you all thought it was me but boy were you WRONG! That woman has so much motivation and is always thinking of the next challenge we can do!

About a month ago she emails me and asks what I think about running a 5K the weekend before Thanksgiving. Of course I reply to “sign me up”! So then our discussion quickly moves to the slight issue being that neither Jessica nor I have ever run and we should probably start some form of training ASAP as we only have about 12 weeks before we hit the pavement for this 5k!
Give a girl the right pair of shoes and she can conquer the world. -Marilyn Monroe #doactiveproducts #doworthy
So as of right now, we are all signed up and attempting training by walking with occasional bouts of running. Today we went for a run and ran about two and a half miles (running one and a half min. and walking a min.). I think we did pretty good! There is a good possibility that we will be able to run the entire 5K in November!

And this is where we need help from you…. We need encouragement and all the tips/advice you can offer as we are fish out of water!


*****RUN 5K************From Couch to Completion Line: How To Train For a 5k | Her Campus




Here is a training schedule that we found on Pinterest! If you are interested in training with us!

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Up & At 'Em!


The main question I get now that I've lost some weight—and now that it’s enough that people have really begun to notice—is, “how did you do it?”  Well, there’s the short answer:  “Eating better and exercising more.”  And then there’s the long answer.  Which I will spare you.  You’re welcome. 

But when people do want to talk about the real ins and outs, they mostly want to know what I’m doing physically.  What’s the secret?  What have I changed?  Plenty.  But if I had to pinpoint the big thing I did, the major change I made, in my exercise routine (which is laughable in itself since the one I had before was, well, not one) it is that I now get up and work out in the morning.  It’s the first thing I do everyday, even on weekends.  And when I tell people this, mostly I’m met with a look of pity or disgust and the words, “oh, yeah, I couldn't do that.” 

Well, yeah, you can.  But I know where you’re coming from, because it’s exactly where I've been.  Below is a list of tips that help me get up and get going in the morning.  Things that make is easier for me to make working out a first priority instead of an afterthought.  None of these are rocket science and I’m sure you've heard of them before.  And, in the end, you have to do what works for you.  If afternoons are better, keep at it.  But if you’re looking for ways to get your booty moving in the wee hours of the morning, take a peek at what works for me. 


  • Put your alarm across the room.
    • If you’re like  me, having your alarm within arm’s length isn't going to do much for you. Listen, that snooze button is the one that will get the workout if I can reach it. So I put my phone across my room, making it necessary for me to crawl out of bed to turn it off.  Once I’m up, it’s easier for me to push myself to getting ready and working out. 
      • Extra tip: Put your alarm with your workout clothes.  Once you’re that close to them, it’s harder to walk away.  Which leads us to…

  • Lay out your clothes, Elementary School style!
    • Do you remember when you were little and your mom or dad would lay your clothes out for the next day?  Go back to those days.  If you don’t have to think about what to put on, you’re more likely to get going quicker and not talk yourself out of working out and right back into your warm, comfy bed. 
      • Extra tip:  Be sure to take the weather into consideration.  If you’re headed out for a run at 5 am in October, it might be a little chilly.  Plan for longer sleeves so you don’t hit the pavement only to turn around because you were unprepared. 

  • Set out your water / food the night before
    • I have to eat a little something before I work out.  And the last thing I want to do is take the time to prep something in the morning.  I’m already tired and, if it’s one of those days, I’m already looking for excuses to skip this whole early morning workout junk all together.   Having my pre-workout food ready to grab and eat is a must for me. 
      • Extra tip:  Don’t gobble your food and guzzle your water like you’ll never be able to eat again.  You don’t want to end up feeling sick—especially if you’re about to get into a particularly strenuous workout.  I eat something really small, like a Belvita breakfast biscuit, while taking a minute to check out the Daily Motivation on theBerry.com.  It keeps me from eating so quickly and gets me pumped for my workout.  Double win!  (Don’t know about the Berry?  You should!  Go check it out and put the app on your phone.  Warning:  it’s highly addictive!)

  • Have a plan.
    • Look, I’m not a fly by the seat of my pants kind of girl.  I need to know what I’m going to be doing in the morning or else I spend a lot of time trying to figure it out.  Which is a waste.  And why waste time standing around in workout pants, when I can do that in the comfort of my bed?  If I’ve already got the morning workout planned I’m much less likely to skip it, because it doesn’t leave the door open for as many excuses.
      • Extra tip:  If your workout calls for printed materials, go ahead and have them ready and set out for yourself.  Need to do a video?  Have it ready to go or at least know exactly where to find it on your phone / computer / DVD player.   

  • Go to bed at a decent hour.
    • Here’s the deal.  If I don’t go to bed early enough, I don’t get up early enough.  Mind blowing, right?  I’m going  to go out on a big, fat limb and guess you’re the same way.  Sometimes life does not let you go to bed early.  I get that.  I’ve got two guys at home that I want to spend crazy amounts of time with, too.  Not to mention the endless responsibilities that come with being a Wife, Mommy and Grown Up.  But here’s the deal.  Pick your battles, set your priorities.  TV can wait.  Social media can wait. Some of those dishes and deep cleaning the carpets?  Yeah, it can wait.  Getting healthy is important.  Sleep is important.  Rest your body.  Go to bed.    
      • Extra tip:  Give yourself a bedtime and stick to it.  “I will be in bed no later than ___.”  You know when you need to put your pretty, little head to pillow in order to function well the next day.  Make a promise to yourself to be in bed by that time and then do your best to stick to it.   

  • Have a partner in crime. 
    • I have to say this one is my favorite.  There is no better motivator than having someone else willing to drag tail out of bed at some unholy hour and sweat like a beast with you.   My sister and I both get up in the morning to work out and then text each other when we’re done.  When it’s 5 am at my house, it’s 5 am at her house and I know both of our alarms are going off at the same time.  We’re pulling on workout clothes and sneakers at the same time.  We’re running and doing squats, dreaded burpees and tricep extensions at the same time.  And that makes it feel like we’re doing them together.  And that helps me keep going.  She motivates me without having to be right there.  And that’s huge
      • Extra tip:  If you’re lucky enough to have someone that lives close enough to you to meet with you, that’s great.  If not, you can still recruit a buddy to send encouraging texts, emails or even call you.  Lift each other up!  Be in this together!
  
Need a challenge for the next eight weeks to get up for?  Rachel and I (and my sister) are doing Tone It Up’s Frisky Fall Challenge. Check it out here.  We’re only about four days in, so that leaves you about seven and a half fitness-filled weeks left to wake up to.  

Go get it, girl!   

Friday, August 29, 2014

Comparison, You Little Thief (AKA: The Lost Blog Post)

So here's Take Two of the post that I tried to put up last week.  Sorry for the delay.  Maybe it just needed to be tweaked.  Because tweaked it has been.

Here's the bottom line, folks:  Being an adult can really, really stink.  Sure there are some great perks.  I can stay up as late as I want, eat ice cream for dinner and I get to live with--gasp!--a boy.  But for all the fun stuff, there's hard stuff.  

There's loss and responsibility and work. And no matter how much you ask, your boss is not going to approve nap times or recess.  Which makes no sense, by the way. You've left the time of letting someone else deal with the big things to dealing with the big things head on.  And sometimes those big things fight back.   

Some of our hardest battles become with ourselves.  Or past selves.  What we did years ago can pop up over and over in our Adult Here and Now.  Like a pesky gnat that you can't catch.  

The biggest gnat in our house is debt.  We're doing what we can to pay for things that we bought years ago.  Enjoyed months ago.  Ate Lord-only-knows how long ago.  Decisions and sacrifices and, sigh, big girl and boy choices are made daily in our household to get ourselves on firmer footing.  And, dang it, we're doing it.  

For the most part, we've got this thing.  Make plan.  Stick to plan.  Done and done.  

But every so often things can knock us around a bit, making us waver some on this path we've chosen.  (Because it's all a series of choices.)  And it's not the broken car window or new tires or clothes for a constantly growing child that always do it.  

Sometimes it's the thought of how your life should look. Where you think you should be.  How you should be living in this stage, at this point, by now.  Sometimes it is that nasty little beast (or another B word, if you prefer), Comparison.  Look at them.  They have everything I want.  Why?     

And then you go out and spend, collect, buy things you can't afford because you think you have to have them to make your life look right.  Feel right.  Be right.  Plan derailed.  

This happened to Steven and me not too long ago.  We've been blessed to meet a really wonderful couple that we enjoy spending time with.  They are funny, smart and have a blonde-haired boy just like we do.  I mean, they're awesome.  It's like looking in a mirror, really.  How could we not be friends?  

We decided to get together at their place one weekend for some family time and that's when we realized that our twinsies were not quite like us.  Their castle, er, house, was beautiful.  It was filled was wonderful pieces from all over the place and all I could think was, "This.  This is what I want."  

The afternoon was great--really, they could not have been more gracious--and we left already talking about getting together again.

But when we got home, we both started mental checklists of what needed to be better about our house.  I wanted a new kitchen and was daydreaming of ripping down cabinets and re-configuring layouts.  Steven had ideas about a bigger garage and completing the unfinished second floor.  

Neither of us uttered one word out loud, probably both a little embarrassed about what we were thinking.  And instead of saying my prayers that night, I fell asleep to thoughts that looked a lot like a show on HGTV. 

The next day when I woke up, I read my morning devotional from Christine Caine.  (If you don't know who she is, take a little time with Google and meet her.  Amazing.)  These are the first words I read that day:

Do you ever wish you were someone else, had something else or did something else?

Ever have one of those moments where you look over your shoulder to make sure that you're actually alone?  Well, I will go ahead and tell you that is pretty pointless.  You're never alone.  God knows exactly what you need to hear and exactly when you need to hear it.  I may not have said my prayers the night before, but God sure was answering them anyway.  

The devotional went on to say:


Way too often, we get so caught up with trying to be like someone else that we forget how special we are.

Galatians 6:4 says, Each one should test their own actions. Then they can take pride in themselves alone, without comparing themselves to someone else ...
Comparing your life, your calling, your schedule or even your way of doing things with someone else will only bring frustration.

So relax. Love yourself and who God made you to be!   

Comparison truly is the thief of joy.  It makes your perfectly wonderful house / body / career, something that is all of a sudden too big, too small, too much or not enough.  They are enough.  God gave them to you for a reason.  Just as they are.  Just as you are.  


We don't know our friends' story.  How they got to where they all or if that road was full of good things or bad things.  I truly hope it was a journey full of more joy than heartache.  But ultimately, that story is theirs.  That life is for them to live.  It is not a finish line for me to try and reach or a standard to which I need to try and model my life.  

And if I want a life like theirs let it be for the love they share, the compassion they show and the laughter they freely throw around.  Not for the things they've acquired.

Sometimes in this adult life we have to fight for our joys.  We have to stop letting comparison steal it.

My house is wonderful.  It is where we live so much of this life together, as a family.  My kitchen is perfectly fine.  It is where I feed my family and a certain three year old likes to dance with me.  My family is mine.  My life is mine.  Our story is ours.

And there is no comparison.  

Friday, August 15, 2014

Creating a Calm Life

I've been seeing this pin floating around Pinterest for a little bit. I've always liked what it said but after last weekend, it really hit home.

I'd written a blog post that you won't ever see.  Not because it wasn't a good one or because I no longer believe the words. But because posting it may disrupt the calm.  See, it's not just OK to be happy with a calm life, it's also OK to put in the effort to create one.

People often confuse calm with boring.  Calm can be anything but boring.  Calm is the chance to sit and appreciate that things aren't moving so fast your head is spinning.  It's quiet moments to read or listen or, for heaven's sake, think.

It is true that some of life's most amazing moments come in its most frantic.  I will give you that.  And some of your most astonishing strength will only be shown when it seems like your world is completely upside down.  When life is anything but calm, when it is pushing you to the point of breaking, there will be wonderful things that will show up.  Compassion.  Forgiveness.  Love.  Friendship.  I will never doubt any of that.

But in the times in between I don't mind that my life is calm.  I don't mind if my time is not so overbooked that I'm too busy to enjoy what I'm doing.  I like that my world mainly consists of a routine, the same basic thing from day to day, with little twists here and there.

Some people like their lives manic.  I get it.  I mean, I don't.  But I do get that people may not want their lives like I want mine. For the most part I want to float along life like I'm in the lazy river, not like I'm white water rafting.  And you know what?  That's fine.  You can take a lot in if you really pay attention to the world as you slowly pass by.  You have fun strapping on your helmet and racing through life, paddle in hand.  All I want to worry about is whether my inner tube has a drink holder.

Keeping things calm can sometimes be a fight.  Not everyone in your life is as willing to float along with you.  Dammit, sometimes someone just wants to pee in your pool.  Sucks, but it's true.  And while I am a huge advocate of not taking any crap (that word was my second choice), I have also learned that putting in the effort to keep things calm may include keeping your mouth shut.  Putting your pen down.  Walking away.  Switching pools.

And I'm also OK with that.

Please believe me when I say that wanting my life to be calm and appreciating that it can be that way, does not mean that I want it to be stationary.  I like to do. I don't want to stay cooped up in my house and never try new things or meet new people.  That's silly.

But when I do go, I don't want it to feel like a race.  And when there are weekends with no plans, that's great.  And when vacations don't happen, that's fine.  And when they do, and they just consist of time with people I love and no to-do lists?  That's the best.  That's the calm.

It's OK to be happy with a calm life.

Float on, friends.










 







Thursday, August 14, 2014

Honestly trying to do better- A review of The Honest Company


I love Diet Mountain Dew, coloring my hair, candles everywhere and I wear perfume every day! Needless to say that I am covered head to toe in all kinds of chemicals and the more I “research” the more I want to have a tad less of these compounds in our home and especially around Jett!
Maya Angelou quote
 
 

When I found out I was pregnant I bought all Seventh Generation house cleaning products. It takes a little while to get used to them but I do think they work pretty well! I do still fumigate with Lysol and use Clorox on hard jobs and after colds or pinkeye. I also still buy Lysol or Clorox brand toilet bowl cleaner.

I tried cleaning everything with vinegar and I was ok with that however Jason didn’t care for the smell! I will say, it will get your blinds sparkling. I mixed it about ¼ vinegar to ¾ water for this job!** And no matter what Pinterest tells you- DO NOT microwave vinegar to clean your microwave- your kitchen will smell horrible for a long while.**

So now, Jett is a year old and I started looking into The Honest Company for his bath products. I ordered the trial pack which contained travel sized products of the shampoo/body wash, face/body lotion, healing balm, hand soap and multi-purpose cleaner for $6.95. They will continue to ship you 5 products a month for $40 (including shipping) if you do not cancel. So I have used all of the products in the trial pack and like all of them! Here is the link!

·        The shampoo/body wash is good. I think it foams up just as good as my normal Johnson & Johnson baby both products and doubled as a bubble bath. I didn’t feel as bad when Jett put his face in the water (it is tear-free) and drank some (yes, we are at that stage). The scent (orange-vanilla) is lovely just not as long lasting as with J&J. He was just as clean just not fragrant- which is probably because there are fewer chemicals. At this time they do not offer a “calming/night time bath gel/lotion” which I really do like from J&J.

·        The face/body lotion is ok.  It is fragrance free. Jett seemed super soft after I applied!

·        The healing balm can be used on diaper rash, irritated skin, cuts/scrapes, etc.. It is a gel/balm consistency. I have only used it on Jett’s fanny a few nights before bed and I have nothing bad to say about it! It went on smoothly and was thick enough to stay where I put it! I could see myself using this on my hands this winter when they get super dry! The site said it was good for eczema too!

·        The hand soap is nice. I got the lavender scent in my kit and it isn’t overpowering but enough fragrance to make you feel pampered! It is not antibacterial (which is another thing I am working towards ridding my house of- except in the kitchen) and is non-toxic!

·        The multi-surface cleaner is ok. Again the more natural products take adjustment time- your house will be just as sparkling just less aromatic proof that you just cleaned! I feel it cleans just as good as the Windex Multi Surface cleaner!
 

They offer so many products from laundry detergent (liquid or pods) to vitamins! So for my first monthly bundle (which you can adjust how often it comes in increments of every 4, 5 or 6 weeks), I chose the shampoo/body wash, face/body lotion, bubble bath, organic breathe easy rub (Vick’s Vapor Rub), and the dish brush with ceramic base. The total of these products if I went to Target* and bought them would be $54.75 plus tax and I paid $40 (shipping and tax included)!

 

*Target is the only retail store that sells The Honest Company however, they do not carry all the products.
 
<3 Rachel