Monday, April 30, 2012


Today is the last day of the month....which is our once-a-month payday. Because Justin missed a full week of work last month due to having the flu, and his work no longer gives them sick time unless you bank overtime, today's payday has been looooonnnnnngggg awaited. LONG. AWAITED.

Which means we're basically out of food...and tonight was slated to be our big stock-up grocery trip.

But, Justin's grandpa is coming into town unexpectedly...which means that instead, we'll all gather for dinner and enjoy each others' company.

Which is a BLESSING. I love that this is just the way things are with both sides of the family. Though, I do sometimes wish we had a bit more notice. But, that's life. Sometimes we don't get notice, and we just have to decide what's more important--grocery shopping, or family gatherings a la Parenthood.

Of course, the latter wins. It's a crazy, hectic, awesome blessing. But, I'm still trying to figure out what we'll eat for the next 24 hours until we DO go grocery shopping :)

Friday, April 27, 2012

Thursday (Friday) Thoughts

Justin's home from work today, and I can hear him making oven pancakes with Lizzy for breakfast. It makes my heart happy hearing him tell her, "This is called cooking flour, now stir it together," and her responding, "I LOVE cooking flour! I'm a really good helper!"

I bought a hydrangea, and I'm super excited about it. Now, I just have to decide where to plant it! My instincts are to plant it on the front side of the house, but I'm second guessing that a little because don't they look kind of gross in the winter since they drop their leaves? Also, the tag says it's partial shade...but I thought hydrangeas could tolerate shade, but mostly prefer sun?

I finally got a real workout in yesterday, and man I'm sore today, but in such a good way. I did the tone/sculpt DVD from Turbofire--I don't know why it didn't occur to me to try it before. I still end up sweating my booty off, but without the seasick jumping around of regular Turbofire. Plus, it has a decent abs/core section, very little of which includes laying on your back...which is definitely a plus for me. I pretty much gave up ab exercises entirely during pregnancy last time, and I'd like to do more this time!
More Pinterest recipes this last week! I love Pinterest for trying out new recipes. There have admittedly been several which I did. not. like. at. all, but overall, it's an amazing resource.

Source: via Meredith on Pinterest
 Mexican Stuffed Shells. These are awesome. The whole family loves them. 


 I took this Bacon, Cheddar, and Ranch loaf to at BBQ. It was gone before I really got any, but from the little bite I had, I think it was pretty darn good! 

 I took this Garlic Lemon Orzo Pasta Salad with Asparagus and Tomato to the same BBQ, and came home with almost all of it. It was definitely not a fan favorite, but I liked it. The dressing didn't give it a ton of overt-flavor and I left out the parsley, but I sort of liked that you could really TASTE the tomato and asparagus. Sometimes, I'm in the mood for simple food. 

I also made this recipe that Kim @ Newlywoodwards posted last week. I had to make a few substitutions (we only had brown rice, and I used cream of chicken soup instead of cream of mushroom), but I really liked it. I thought for sure that we'd have leftovers, since Justin isn't always a huge mushroom fan, but after a few rounds of "This is GOOD!", it was totally gone. I'm not usually a big fan of cream of _________ soups, but I thought this was really good. Next time I might try it with golden mushroom soup! It's a great comfort-food classic! 

Yesterday, we were at Target, and Lizzy told me she wanted to go to the bathroom (which just about deserves a standing ovation in and of itself). We walked over, but we were there around lunch time, so naturally the bathrooms were closed for cleaning (I've never understood this, but hey, at least they are clean). Lizzy said, "That's okay mom, I hold it til Taco Bell." I wasn't really PLANNING to go to Taco Bell for lunch, but how could I resist after that?! Then while going to the bathroom at Taco Bell, Lizzy said, "We need to call dad to fix Target." Man, she cracks me up. I didn't really know that she understood what Justin did at work!  

If this is your sort of thing, what are a few of your favorite worship songs? I feel like with the exception of some of the popular ones currently on the radio, I've been listening to most of the same ones for years.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Baby #2: 11 weeks

How far along: 11 weeks exactly.

Size of baby: A lime (The Bump) or a fig (BabyCenter). 

Weight Gain: -5 pounds.

Symptoms: Just the usual--tired, feeling nauseous at night, falling asleep on the couch after dinner. This morning, I had the first of what I'm sure will be frequent crazy pregnancy dreams...oddly enough, a few of you who may be reading this were in them! In the hour between when Justin left and I finally woke up, I had dreams that featured Kristal (with a two-year-old girl named Kylie who was keeping you from resting in the hospital prior to having a baby) and also Renee (with a huge new dog named Kyle, which you were NOT happy about, but were trying to pretend to be). I guess the name Kyle/Kylie was on my mind!

Exercise: Nothing specific, though MAN, it had been so hot here lately that pulling weeds in the garden sure felt like exercise! My goal is to pop on a movie for Lizzy and hop on the treadmill for awhile this morning.

Clothes: Right now, my regular stuff is actually more comfortable than my maternity stuff. Generally, I'm just at the stage where I feel all lumpy, but I actually don't think the "bump" is super noticeable in regular clothes, compared to when I'm in yoga pants and a t-shirt, which is one reason why I stayed in my PJs for the above picture! Who am I kidding though...I'm still in them...

Cravings/Aversions: Nothing in particular. Sometimes, I'll make something for dinner, and then my the time it's done, I have absolutely no desire to eat it. I'm trying to force myself to at least try it before making myself something different, otherwise I'd break the bank with our grocery budget! Also, I've been slacking on the water consumption this week, and need to get back with it!

Movement: Nope. Obviously it'll be awhile. But for any second (or more) time moms, I'm curious to know if you felt movement sooner with subsequent pregnancies?

Worries: My next appointment with an ultrasound is in one week (at 3pm). I'd love your thoughts and prayers--I'm nervous about it, as always. Last night, we were talking with Lizzy before bed about how a little boy had gotten an owie in the nursery at church on Sunday, and how Lizzy was very nice to suggest that maybe a group hug would make him better. Then, Lizzy turned to me and sort of asked/said, "Mama's baby has a owie?!" which I know was just an innocent relating of something we'd just been talking about, but it seriously freaked me out even more.

Milestones: Baby's fingers and toes are no longer webbed. She's about 1 and a half inches long, and bones are just now beginning to harden. The little one is kicking away in there, even though I can't feel it yet.

Best moment of the week:I really enjoyed the few sunny days we had this past week, including spending time with my aunt and uncle, and then a fun BBQ on Saturday. It finally felt like summer may eventually get here. Of course, being the Pacific NW, we're back to rain again today, but that's okay because I'm getting antsy to plant my garden even though it's not time yet, and then rain will deter me!

Tuesday, April 24, 2012


Yesterday, while I was elbow deep in dishwater, Lizzy unlocked the front door and ran outside, despite my cries of "Lizzy! NO! YOU COME BACK HERE RIGHT NOW!"

A few hours later, the wind kicked up into high gear, and I dashed outside barefoot to grab a ball that we'd left outside before it blew away. Lizzy locked me out of the house, and would not come unlock the front door no matter how much I screamed. For some reason, Justin had also taken the garage door opener out of my car and not returned it. So, me and my bare feet were left outside...where it had now started raining...and I had the distinct privilege of trying to navigate the mud pit that is currently our backyard barefooted and in the rain.

I got inside, did the whole timeout thing, talked about how the DOOR IS NOW OFF LIMITS for Lizzy, etc. Justin got home, and I did a little happy dance, because the entire day had basically been what was described in the above two paragraphs.

And then after dinner, Justin went outside to fix something on his truck. Within minutes, I had taken away a popsicle after 3 warnings that it had to be eaten at the table instead of while dancing around, apparently pretending it was a magical wand. In the last occasion before I took it away, Lizzy tip toed over, stuck only her big toe in the living room, and then laughed. Actually, Lizzy ended up taking away the popsicle from herself at that point, as before I could reach her to take it away, she'd thrown the thing on the floor. So much for the floors I'd just mopped earlier.

Once she'd calmed down from that fiasco, I told her that it had been awhile, and she needed to go sit on the toilet. With the amount of tears and drama that ensued, you'd think I'd have just told her that her cat died. Lizzy finally calmed down and said she'd sit on the toilet...she went to grab a book, and peed on the rug instead...and then laughed. I am 100% certain that she did it on purpose. And I about lost it. I didn't know whether to scream or cry.

Thank God for Justin, who came inside at this point during my mental-breakdown and promptly took over by getting her into a bath. And then last night, I had dreams about the biggest darn margarita you ever did see. And it was glorious.

Here's hoping today goes more smoothly...

Monday, April 23, 2012

Book Review: The Replacement Wife by Eileen Goudge

From the back of the book: Camille Hart, one of Manhattan’s most sought-after matchmakers, has survived more than her fair share of hardships. Her mother died when she was a young girl, leaving her and her sister with an absentee father. Now in her forties, she has already survived cancer once, though the battle revealed just how ill-equipped her husband Edward is to be a single parent. So when doctors tell Camille that her cancer is back—and this time it’s terminal—she decides to put her matchmaking expertise to the test for one final job. Seeking stability for her children and happiness for her husband, Camille sets out to find the perfect woman to replace her when she’s gone.

I wanted to like The Replacement Wife, I really did. I liked the premise of the novel. I liked the characters. I thought the dialogue was often perfect and clever. I liked the prose itself (and for this reason, I'd be totally interested in reading other novels by Eileen Goudge). The problem was with the storyline itself, which I personally did not care for. 

You see, I've long had problems with books and movies that want us to root for two characters to have an affair. I just can't bring myself to do it. It drives me crazy. I mean, I know extra-marital affairs happen every day--I'm not naive. But that also doesn't mean that I have to agree with them or want to read about them/watch them. Even when it comes to much-loved movies like My Best Friend's Wedding or Made of Honor, I just can't do it. Sometimes it seems like I'm the only one who feels that way, so I suppose we could call it a pet peeve of mine. 

Unfortunately, The Replacement Wife followed this trajectory, and essentially asked me as the reader to approve of and invest in an extra-marital affair, and I just couldn't do it. For me, once the characters in question crossed that line, The Replacement Wife went from a book that I was really enjoying to a book that I couldn't wait to be finished with. I KNOW this isn't an issue for every reader. I KNOW there are probably hundreds of readers who absolutely loved the novel. But for me personally, it hit at a sort of pet peeve that I just couldn't get beyond.

I always struggle a bit with how to rate books like this that I didn't like for whatever particular reason, but that I also know others may still enjoy immensely. So, I've given The Replacement Wife the fairest rating I can think of, which is just simply that it's not my style. 

Disclosure Statement: I was provided with a free copy of this book to review through my NetGalley membership. My review itself is provided to the publisher, but is not a paid review. As always, all opinions are my own--I don't think I could lie about a book even if I wanted to!

Friday, April 20, 2012

Friday Thoughts

There's a retreat going on for my Mom's Group this weekend--unfortunately, I couldn't go because I already have to present the new church website that Justin and I just finished at the voter's meeting this Sunday. I'm sad that I don't get to go and get to know everyone better, but instead I get to visit with my aunt and uncle, who are in town. Fair trade, if you ask me!

I'm crossing my fingers big time that the 80 degree weather predicted actually comes to fruition this weekend. I feel like I *need* some sunshine, and also to break out some fun spring clothes. I feel like we are going to skip spring entirely and go right to summer....weird!

I'm not usually against coffee during pregnancy, but I've been drinking almost none this time because it just doesn't sound good...except for a white chocolate mocha from our local coffee place, which is funny because that's usually the LAST thing I would order. I hate white chocolate!

Congrats to the winner of the Dayspring Vase Giveaway! Please contact me at by Monday the 23rd  for the coupon code!
Some of you already heard this story, but one morning this week, I went to get Lizzy out of her room once she woke up, and she yelled "BUENOS DIAS!" I totally had a proud-mom 'aren't we doing a great job introducing her to Spanish' moment...and then I realized it actually probably had more to do with the fact that we've been watching a LOT of Dora while laying on the couch this week. Oh.

But, we've also been watching a lot of Iron Chef America lately around nap time, because Lizzy is apparently not a fan and usually falls asleep whenever it's on. The other day, after the chairman announced the secret ingredient, she yelled "Allez cuisine!" This is also why darn near everything other than Iron Chef America is off-limits to watch while she's awake--this kiddo picks up EVERYTHING.

I've been stressing out a little, because Justin is taking on some extra responsibility at church. I sort of saw this coming in advance, but also....didn't because no one had spoken to him or I about it directly. I don't love what this means for our family (more time that Justin's gone). We just have so little amount of time at home as a family as it is, and so I'm kind of anxiously bracing for the summer, when I feel like our lives are going to ramp up times 1,000 and Justin is going to be gone a LOT. I also feel like I have to toe the line a little bit with what I say (and how much I flip out about it, even though I don't want it to happen) because I'm not sure whether this is something that J really wants to do and feels called to do, or whether it's something that he's doing because he feels like there's no one else to do it if he doesn't, ya know? Justin is so giving and so immediate to jump in and say "yes" whenever someone needs help...which I love, but I also sometimes feel like if one more thing is added to our plate from any direction, I may either cry or throw up. Or both. It'll be okay though...I think Justin has expressed this this extra commitment is temporary, until a more permanent solution can be found...which I'm thrilled about...but I still get really nervous, because sometimes I feel like with church stuff, the temporary often becomes permanent!

Did you all see Beth Anne's post A Call for Responsible Discourse? If not, please go read it--it was one of the most important posts I read this past week. I agree with her 100%--lately, I feel like I've been seeing people toss around words like "abuse" and "neglect" a lot as they relate to parenting choices (i.e. formula versus breastmilk, or the situation Beth Anne describes)...and that really gets me fired up. Our words have weight, always. They uplift, or put down. They are not innocuous.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Baby #2: 10 Weeks


How far along: 10 weeks exactly.

Size of baby: A prune (The Bump) or a kumkuat (BabyCenter). 

Weight Gain: -5 pounds. You'll see why below.

Symptoms:This week, the all-day sickies really hit me. I've basically been laying on the couch moaning and drinking Ginger Ale since about Tuesday. So thankful not to be working this time around!

Exercise: I tried TurboFire on Saturday, but it was WAY too bouncy for me, and I felt sick about 10 minutes back to walking for now (though I haven't walked at all since then).

Clothes: I dug out my bin of maternity clothes last week and was happy to discover that even the things that were pretty small during my first trimester with Lizzy are TOO BIG! So, I'm not really wearing any maternity stuff at this point. I just wish I could find my bella band, 'cause I'm sure I'll be wanting that soon!

Cravings/Aversions: Basically, all I've eaten this week has been ginger ale, sourdough toast, bananas, and popsicles. Yesterday night, I tried some cheese tortellini minus the sauce and have been feeling hopefully I'm out of the woods temporarily at least.

Movement: Nope.

Worries: Yep. Everybody keeps asking me, "Are you SO excited?!?!" but the honest truth is that I don't really feel like I can start to get excited until that 12 week mark at least (realistically, probably not until my appointment at 13 weeks). Right now, I just feel like I'm bracing for anything that could possibly come. I can usually turn basically anything into a worry--like this week's pregnancy updates typically say something to the effect of 'Your clothes are probably starting to get tight'--well, mine aren't, and it's an internal battle to not go right to 'something must be wrong!' I know that for me, the anxiety is directly related to the fact that I haven't been doing Bible study or quiet time over the last couple of weeks because I've just felt crummy.

Milestones: Vital organs — including his kidneys, intestines, brain, and liver (now making red blood cells in place of the disappearing yolk sac) — are in place and starting to function, though they'll continue to develop throughout pregnancy. Fingernails are starting to develop, and he or she is kicking away in there!

Best moment of the week: Lizzy spent the night at my parents' house last Saturday night, which meant that I got to sleep in Sunday until a blissful 9:00am or so!

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Redeemed- (In)spired Deals Review & Giveaway

A few years ago, I remember walking into an acquaintance's home, and noticing how many pieces of decor items talked about the fact that they were a Christian family. 'Wow, they must really want to make sure that everyone knows that they're Christians,' I thought with disdain.

At that point in my life and in my faith, that was honestly the only explanation that I could fathom--that generally, when people had Christian home decor up in their home, it was either (a) because they felt like they were "supposed" to have those items up or (b) because they wanted to make sure that every single person in their lives knew that they were Christian. To be totally honest, neither reason seemed like a particularly good reason to me, and for that reason, our home was fairly devoid of any references to our faith for the next several years.

However, this past December, I partnered with Dayspring and (in)courage to participate in a review and giveaway of a home decor item. To be honest, I thought that it would probably be something that I might display at Christmas time, and then put away for the rest of the year. But surprisingly, something happened--I noticed that the little tealight holder became an unexpected support and encouragement to me during a pretty hard experience in my life. And because of that, it has remained on display in our home ever since.

This past month, I've had another opportunity to partner with (in)courage and Dayspring to review a home decor item, and I think I'm ready to say that before, I was wrong. Totally, dead wrong. At least for me, displaying home decor items that have faith-based messages isn't at all about who else sees them. It's about me, and the fact that often, in the midst of chaos, I need those words written in my heart and whispered into my soul.

This month's (in)spired deals item comes from the Redeemed line:

Life is a patchwork of the meaningful things we keep with us—memories, moments, and connections that serve as daily reminders of where we’ve come from and who our loving Heavenly Father says we are in Jesus. The Redeemed collection celebrates the way God, in His generous grace, sews together every beautiful bit of our lives to form one masterpiece creation after another.

The items that I personally received to review were the "Beautiful in Its Time" Vintage Glass Vase and the Blessed Set of 6 Ceramic Coasters.


As always, the products seem to be very well-made--the ceramic coasters are beautiful (each one has a different image), and seem like they'll hold up very well. But my real favorite here is the vintage glass vase, which I could immediately imagine sitting atop my dream farmhouse table someday, acting as a vase for fresh-cut flowers from the backyard, or a carafe for orange juice at a Sunday morning breakfast. It's something that I can imagine standing the test of time well enough to pass down to one of my kiddos someday.



The vase includes the above verse etched on one side, and then raised glass letters that spell "Redeemed" on the other side...and boy, is it ever a good reminder for my soul lately--there's this song by a band called Late Tuesday that goes, "everything's broken, but it still can be redeemed", and that's exactly what this vase reminds me of every morning. That when I'm exhausted and grumbling about doing more dishes. Or when I'm feeling like our house or budget isn't the way I'd like it to be. I need that reminder sometimes that things will be not just okay, but more beautiful than I could ever imagine--in God's time, not my own.


So, because I genuinely love Dayspring products, I'm thrilled to be able to giveaway a coupon code for one of you to order this beautiful vase for yourself!

There's no fancy requirements in order to enter--simply leave a comment on this post between now, and 6:00am (PST) this Friday morning, the 20th!

The fine print: I was provided with a vase and coaster set to review and photograph, but was not compensated in any other way for this review, nor do I profit from the links to Dayspring included in this post. As always, all opinions included in this review are my own. The winner of this giveaway will be chosen on Friday the 20th, using, and will be given a coupon code specifically for the glass vase mentioned above. The winner will be responsible for shipping costs for the item.

Monday, April 16, 2012

BQOTD: How's the Weather?

Today's Burning Question of the Day:

What's the weather like where you live?

Here in Southern Oregon, it's cloudy. 50 degrees. Looking like rain...which I suppose is no shock at all in the Pacific Northwest. We had a brief respite with the sun yesterday, and I was thinking "Oh! Spring is finally here!" but, I think I was just duped.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Thursday Thoughts....on a Friday

Justin just might kill me for posting this, but he totally scared the beejebus out of me yesterday--when I woke up at 6:30am to a text from him saying, "I just crashed a work truck." Thankfully, he's okay (the truck, not so much).

About three (four?) years ago, there was a girl at the local beauty school who used to cut and color my hair better than any professional. People used to stop me on the street and ask who colored my hair. Once, a doctor at the ER asked if I would allow her to write down my name and take it to the beauty school and say, "Just do whatever you did to Meredith." But, sad day, she graduated, and for whatever reason, I never found out where she went. BUT, happy day, I found her! And I have an appointment with her today for a haircut! I really wish I could do a cut AND a color, but today I'll just have to settle for a cut. I don't think I've had my hair cut since October, so it is long overdue.

Potty training? Had been going very well. All of a sudden, not so much...and I'm not very happy about it. It has made the days VERY long lately.

Justin and the band are playing at a church fundraiser tomorrow night...which means that Lizzy is spending the night at my parent's house, and Justin and I get to enjoy a dress-up, adults-only dinner. And maybe sleeping in. And is it ever needed!

I am totally chomping at the bit to build our new dining room table. It probably won't be this month, or likely even next month, but I am so excited to have a table that is functional and FITS in the designated space!

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Baby #2 : 9 Weeks


How far along: 9 weeks exactly.

Size of baby: A green olive (The Bump) or a grape (BabyCenter). 

Weight Gain: -3 pounds. I had actually been holding pretty steady at -5 pounds, which I think had a lot to do with the fact that I had given up cookies/candy/sweets/desserts for Lent. Since Easter, I've tended to fluctuate between -5 and -3 pounds from my pre-pregnancy weight, which was about 5 pounds higher than it was with Lizzy.

Exercise: I'm trying to hop on the treadmill and at least walk for 20 or 30 minutes a couple of times per week. It's all I have energy for right now (and to be totally honest, last time I noticed a correlation between exercise and the unexplained bleeding, so I've been a little nervous about it this time and trying to still be active without being so high impact). I'm thinking I just might be to the point where I could pick it back up a little and do a kickboxing video, the low impact version of Turbo-Fire or some such. I mean, is that allowed to pick back up to what we had been doing pre-pregnancy even if it's been a couple weeks due to the first trimester yucks?

Cravings/Aversions: This time around, my stomach has been most upset at night rather than in the morning, but it's only occasionally been so bad that I haven't wanted to eat dinner. With Lizzy, I wanted a lot of pizza. This time, I've mostly wanted Mexican. Last night, I made a huge pan of enchiladas for the band, but by the time I was done making them, they did NOT sound appealing at all. My sister happened to bring me over a take-and-bake from my favorite hometown pizza place, so I ate a slice of that instead...and yes, I realize that what I just said totally contradicts what I had previously said about wanting Mexican and not pizza!

Symptoms: Just the normal--I'm fairly nauseous, but haven't actually thrown up so far, and for that I'm grateful. Right now, it's just being so tired all the time. The other day, I laid Lizzy down for a nap, sat down at the computer to pay some bills, and straight up fell asleep. Justin has done a great job helping me out around the house lately, and I so appreciate it...but I still feel like I just can't catch up with all the house stuff. And smells are bothering me MUCH more this time. Overall though, it's a lot easier this time being home instead of working full time!

Movement: Not yet. Hopefully sooner than last time (I think around 22 weeks?!)...but the ultrasound tech did comment that I have a tilted uterus, so I'm not sure if that affects things.

Worries: What don't I worry about during pregnancy? Ha! It's a little interesting, because I still have a LOT of anxiety, but also not nearly as much as I had with Lizzy. So in some ways, I still know what it's like to be crippled by anxiety during the first trimester, but on the other, I'm also getting a little glimpse of what it's like to be free from it. The first trimester is just hard for me--I still have nightmares about going in for an ultrasound at 12 weeks and not seeing a heartbeat. I'm still a little nervous that the baby wasn't measuring where *I* was expecting at the first ultrasound, even though it was measuring right when the doctor was expecting (I guessed I'd be about a week ahead). Anyway, I'm looking forward to once I'm starting to feel movement, 'cause that eases my anxiety a bit.

Milestones: The baby is now no longer an embryo, but is actually a fetus. The "tail" is gone, and the little bean is beginning to look more and more like a baby. He or she is beginning to develop more distinguished facial features, and the heart has developed into four chambers. Teeth may also begin to develop this week!

Best moment of the week: I love that at night, Lizzy says "God bless Daddy, God bless Mommy, God bless Lizzy, God bless the baby!" Last night, she was also talking about someone having a baby in their belly, and pushed her stomach out super far--it was pretty funny. Oh...and how can I neglect to mention my sister bringing me pizza as a highlight of the past week?!

And lastly, I've got a random question--I picked up VitaFusion Gummy Prenatals the other day (which are so much easier for me than the horse-pills), but am now hearing contrasting information about whether or not they're really safe to take. Apparently, the type of Vitamin A that they contain is not the preferred kind and has been linked to birth defects in high doses. Anyone know anything about them? I've just been taking the normal horse pills now and I'll probably ask the doctor about them at the next appointment, but just thought I'd ask in case anyone has experience with them already!

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Buying the Cow

Over the past couple of years, Justin and I have changed our approach to eating a lot. We're making a lot more from scratch. We're paying a lot more attention to the ingredients in our food. We're more particular about our milk. But, although we both wanted to transition to buying grass-fed local beef, when we'd go to the grocery store and see organic beef at $5 or $6 per pound, we just couldn't do it. It wasn't even an option in the budget.

We've talked about buying a cow for years. Literally. But it's a rather large chunk of money up front, and it felt like that money was always needed elsewhere. I didn't know if we'd have room in our freezer. Plus, it felt really overwhelming to me, and I didn't really know where to start. This year around tax time, I hopped on Craigslist and was just poking around, trying to figure out how much we'd have to save in order to finally move away from the pink slime and towards a healthier option for our family.

I came across a listing for a local ranch that raises grass-fed, hormone-free, antibiotic-free Longhorn cows, which are not only much leaner than Angus, but they're also much smaller cows too (the Longhorns at this ranch are butchered at about 450 lbs, compared to sometimes 1200 lbs with Angus), which I thought might be more feasible for our first time buying a cow.

So, I sent an email to the ranch and basically said, "I have no idea how this works--tell me everything." They were wonderful, and within a few days, we were driving out to the ranch to meet the family and sample some beef (PS- I absolutely recommend trying before you buy. Grass-fed beef does taste different than Grain-fed beef, and you need to make sure you like it before you spend several hundred dollars on it!). Justin said that Longhorn beef tasted a little gamey to him (which he actually likes), but it just tasted like beef to me. So, we decided to go for it.

At this ranch, you could order 1/4, 1/2, or a whole cow. We ordered 1/4, which ended up to be about 95 pounds for hanging weight (you'll end up with a little less than this once it has actually been butchered). We paid $3.05 per pound (hanging weight), which included everything--the kill fee, as well as cut and wrap.

About a week after paying, the butcher called me and walked me through the possible cuts, and we talked about what sorts of things we used most often. At this particular ranch, if you buy a quarter, they pair you with another person who ordered a quarter, and you end up splitting the half--so you're getting cuts from both the front and back rather than just your quarter. However, because of this, there were a couple of specific cuts (like NY steaks) that the other person had already requested...but really, that wasn't a big deal to us because we're not super particular about our cuts of steak.

Another week later, the ranch delivered this to our doorstep:



I know this post is getting really long, but I want to also include a list of the final meat that we received, because it would have really helped me to see a post like this before we bought the cow, and I'm hoping that if there's anyone out there who has been on the fence, maybe this will be helpful!

We haven't opened up a ton of the meat yet, but I'm assuming that each pack of steaks has 2-4 steaks per package. We also requested roasts to be 3-5 pounds each.

-11 packs of ground beef (1.5-2 pounds each)
-4 packs of soup bones
-1 pack NY Steak
-2 packs of Round Steak
-2 packs of Sirloin Tip Steak
-2 packs Top Sirloin Steaks
-2 packs of Short Ribs
-1 Tenderloin
-2 packs Ribeye Steak
-2 Chuck Roasts (3-5 pounds each)
-1 Rump Roast
-1 Cross-rib roast
-1 Tri-Tip roast
-2 packs of stew meat
-1 pack of Carne Asada
-1 Beef Back Rib

We requested 1.5-2lb packs for ground beef because Justin pretty much requests "more beef" for any spaghetti/meatball/burrito/burger dish that's made. But next time, I think we'll definitely go for 1 pound packages instead just to stretch it out a little more.

Also, for those worried about freezer space, all of the above fits into one shelf of our upright deep freezer--I definitely think it could fit into a fridge/freezer with no problem, as long as it was a relatively empty freezer. Please do note that I'm talking about Longhorn beef here, not Angus.

Overall, it's been a really good experience, and it's nice to always have beef on hand. It's easy to toss a roast into the Crock Pot {Leah's 3-2-1 Beef with Black Butte Porter is still my go to recipe for roasts}, and then we've got shredded beef for sandwiches, enchiladas, etc for several more days through the week. I hope we'll be able to do this again and again!

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Mundane Beauty: Version 3.0


Hello family Easter pictures...even though I hate pictures of myself right now and always forget that if I tuck my hair behind my ear, it looks like I have a funky blonde spot. Oh well.

Hello homemade ice cream...for breakfast. After 40 days of no ice cream, candy, cookies, or anything that qualifies as a dessert, if this is my one big splurge, I think it'll be okay.

Hello GIANT pile of dirt in my backyard...which will eventually (hopefully) transform our backyard of star thistle to a backyard oasis. Or at least a patch of grass to play on.

Hello purple irises. You are always my favorite.

Hello editing a newborn session. Almost finished :)

Hello dinner in the Crock Pot!

Friday, April 6, 2012

Blessed & Thankful


That's right--if all goes well, Lizzy's going to be a big sister on or around November 15, 2012! This means that according to my ultrasound yesterday, I'm now 8 weeks, 1 day pregnant.


If I'm totally honest, I'm still not super comfortable posting this today--it's a little early for my preference! I know it's crazy, but we waited to tell the world until I was 12 weeks with Lizzy, and telling earlier kind of makes me feel like I'm jinxing things. But Lizzy came with us to the first appointment yesterday, and she'll tell every random person we come across, so I figured I might as well take the leap of faith and share with you all as well. Besides, I would absolutely love your prayers!

I've been writing little snippets for the past couple of months. Even though it'll make this post a little long, I figured I'll include them here just for my own record-keeping. You are totally free to skip over them if you wish, but I do think they'll probably answer a lot of potential questions. If you have more questions, feel free to hit the comments! Obviously, the following may contain TMI for some have been warned!

2/22/12-So, on Sunday Feb 12th, I should have begun a new pack of BC pills, but didn't. And now I'm officially going crazy--with Lizzy, we never actually "tried" to conceive, so I didn't really pay too much attention to early symptoms. But this time around, I know we're trying, and right now, either I've got some CRAZY phantom symptoms going on, or I'm somehow legitimately already pregnant even though technically speaking I shouldn't have even ovulated yet. Or maybe I am ovulating, and that's what all the symptoms are? I don't know!

3/3/12- Took a pregnancy test this morning. It was negative. I wasn't charting, but my gut is that I was probably 14 dpo, so it should have been positive. But 'technically' speaking, I was only 10dpo. Am I just crazy? Or did I test too soon? There's still 5 days until AF is due, so maybe so.

3/7/12- I couldn't sleep and felt sick most of the night, so about 4 am I took another pregnancy test and was pretty surprised to see that it was POSITIVE. I finally woke Justin up about 4:30am to tell him...he said it was worth getting up that early for :) Last time, we really didn't tell anyone until I was 8 weeks, and most of our friends didn't find out until I was 12 weeks. This time, we told immediate family this morning, other than the kiddos (because once they know, EVERYONE will know). I'm glad we did, but it's also a little hard for me because we didn't do that last time...and so I kind of feel like we "jinxed" it...which I know is silly...but this 4-8 week period of pregnancy is always hardest for me. It's like 'Am I really pregnant?! How would I know if it were ectopic/molar/a missed miscarriage?'

4/4/12- I'm a little less than a week away from my first appointment (just shy of 8 weeks if you go my last cycle). I'm nervous. I have nightmares sometimes of all of us going to the doctor's office, and the sweet ultrasound tech saying, "I'm sorry, but there's no heartbeat." And then, I also find myself thinking irrationally sometimes--for example, with Lizzy I spotted heavily the whole first trimester. I haven't spotted this time at all. But instead of rejoicing in that, I find myself thinking that something must be wrong...because I'm not spotting. Which I know is silly, but I can't stop thinking it. We still haven't told Lizzy yet, and have been really cautious not to talk about it while she's around, but she still often talks about the "baby in mama's belly."

4/5/12- Naturally, after I wrote that I hadn't been spotting, I started spotting (last night). It was light pink spotting and didn't last long, but because it was accompanied by some sharp pain on one side of my abdomen, my OB wanted me to come in today for an ultrasound, to rule out ectopic pregnancy (my first appointment was originally scheduled for Monday). I'm nervous, but also thankful that they are letting me come in today instead of stewing over it all weekend. I'm trying to stay positive and remember that I bled heavily with Lizzy and she was fine. Spotting could be nothing. But it also could be something, and I'm nervous.

So. Justin, Lizzy, and I went in to the doctor yesterday, and I was so nervous! They did an ultrasound first, and saw a little wiggling baby measuring 8 weeks exactly, which is what I technically should be based on my last cycle. I really could have sworn that I was actually a week ahead of that, but I wasn't charting, so I guess I can't really say for sure. Naturally (because everything baby related makes me nervous), it made me nervous that the dates weren't lining up with what I was expecting, even though they were lining up PERFECTLY with what the doctor was expecting. I'm trying to just relax, and remember that the doctor and tech both said that they saw absolutely nothing that concerned them, so at this point I have no reason to stress.

We got to see and hear the heartbeat (162 bpm). I was expecting Lizzy to be super excited when we explained what the ultrasound was showing, but she basically looked at me like 'Duh Mom...I've been telling you that you have a baby in your belly for weeks.'  :)

They didn't really have an explanation for the spotting, just as they didn't really ever have an explanation for the spotting with Lizzy...but still, I'm praying that there are WAY fewer scary bleeding episodes this time! I'm trying not to spend the whole pregnancy in a state of fear and anxiety, but there's honestly always a part of me, however small, that doesn't really believe we'll get to take the baby home until we're actually on the way home from the hospital. So, I'm excited, but pretty nervous too...which I think is often pretty par for the course when it comes to pregnancy!

Today, I am pregnant. Today, the baby is healthy and I am so thankful. 
God is good, always. 

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Thursday Thoughts

I'm supposed to be at Mom's Group today, but I'm not feeling great, and so sweet Lizzy and I are at home snuggling on the couch and watching Cars instead. It's wonderful...for the next seven minutes at least ;)

Lizzy has been so funny lately--the other day she told me, "Mama, I always love you sometimes."

Last night, we were listening to some music, and Lizzy said "I want Moves Like Jagger" plain as day. I can confidently say that the kiddo hasn't ever heard Moves Like Jagger at home or in the car, because the kiddo always has a meltdown and wants 'Lizzy Songs' instead. But, I pulled up Moves Like Jagger on You Tube, and Lizzy totally started singing the "Mo-oh-oh-oh-oh-oves like Jagger" portion of the song.

In response to the not-feeling great, I have a doctor appointment at 1:30pm today. Since the skin cancer thing in January, I get some SERIOUS anxiety before doctor appointments, and have been battling to keep myself in check all morning. Even though it isn't true, it feel like lately doctors only bring bad news that I was not expecting. 

We've made a couple more Pinterest recipes lately...

I was really excited about this "Man Pleasing Chicken" that I've seen all over Pinterest, but man, we did NOT like this recipe at all. Are we the only ones? It tasted much more mustard-y than I was anticipating, and I just didn't love it.

I also made Turmeric Chicken with Coconut Milk last night.

I'd never had turmeric before, and it was a lot different than I was expecting. I think I was expecting something like curry, but it was actually much lighter than I imagined. Justin hates curry, but he did try this...though I don't think it was a favorite of his by any stretch of the imagination.

It's actually supposed to be sunny and sort of nice here for Easter, and I'm excited! I may actually wear a dress! But for the life of me, I'm having the hardest time finding an Easter dress for Lizzy to wear. Sweet girl may end up wearing just one of her regular old dresses for Easter this year, 'cause I just can't seem to find anything I like at any of the usual places. Oh well, she'll survive :)

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Book Review: Pure by Julianna Baggott

From the back of the book: Pressia barely remembers the Detonations or much about life during the Before. In her sleeping cabinet behind the rubble of an old barbershop where she lives with her grandfather, she thinks about what is lost--how the world went from amusement parks, movie theaters, birthday parties, fathers and mothers . . . to ash and dust, scars, permanent burns, and fused, damaged bodies. And now, at an age when everyone is required to turn themselves over to the militia to either be trained as a soldier or, if they are too damaged and weak, to be used as live targets, Pressia can no longer pretend to be small. Pressia is on the run.

There are those who escaped the apocalypse unmarked. Pures. They are tucked safely inside the Dome that protects their healthy, superior bodies. Yet Partridge, whose father is one of the most influential men in the Dome, feels isolated and lonely. Different. He thinks about loss-maybe just because his family is broken; his father is emotionally distant; his brother killed himself; and his mother never made it inside their shelter. Or maybe it's his claustrophobia: his feeling that this Dome has become a swaddling of intensely rigid order. So when a slipped phrase suggests his mother might still be alive, Partridge risks his life to leave the Dome to find her.

When Pressia meets Partridge, their worlds shatter all over again.


Pure, which seems to increasingly be recommended to fans of Hunger Games, is a novel with a familiar end-of-the-world premise. It's definitely dystopian, but apocalyptic as well...and yes, those two genres really seem to saturate the Young Adult shelves lately. However, Pure sets itself apart from other similar novels in the genre with a small but powerful twist--during the detonations that destroyed the world, people became permanently fused to whatever they were holding or standing next to at the time. Mothers have children permanently fused to their hips. Others were fused to high-rise skyscrapers. Others still were fused to the dirt itself. Pressia, one of Pure's protagonists, now has a hand that is made up of the head of a baby doll. Her grandfather, who was holding a small fan at the time of the detonations, has a fan embedded in his throat, which wheezes away with every inhale and exhale of breath. The images of these "wretches" are both stunning and terrifying all at once. 

Billed as the first of three novels, Pure is in many ways darker than some of the novels that I've seen it compared to--I can see the reason that many people compare Pure to Hunger Games, but I also think that the world Baggott has crafted in Pure is much darker, much more corrupted, and much more abysmal. There are no easy solutions or paths to redemption in Pure, and nearly every character experiences grave loss. While there is a bit of a romance, it felt like a minor sub-plot rather than a major one--it almost got lost in the darkness of the world, and had it been absent altogether, I'm not sure I would have noticed.

Still, it was both captivating and haunting. Even in the midst of terror and destruction, there was something human that peeked through and made me relate to and care about the characters, flaws and all. And in my book, that's what makes a great novel. Overall, I'm excited to see where Baggott takes the story in the second book and would definitely recommend it to lovers of dystopian and apocalyptic fiction! 

 Disclosure Statement: I was provided with a free copy of this book to review through my NetGalley membership. My review itself is provided to the publisher, but is not a paid review. As always, all opinions are my own--I don't think I could lie about a book even if I wanted to!

Monday, April 2, 2012

Reframing Monday

Bah! Justin's stupid alarm clock had already gone off five times by like 6:30am, and now I'm awake earlier than I need or want to be and can't fall back asleep.
Reframed: I'm up a half an hour earlier than Lizzy will be, and it's good for my soul to get up and have a cup of coffee before she does. I've been talking about going back to the getting-up-early routine anyway. 

Bah! I totally spaced it and forgot to make a payment last month to the pediatrician!!!! UGGGHHHHH!!!!! They are going to hate me forever for this and send me nasty letters! How can I get out of this?!
Reframed: I just plum forgot--it wasn't intentional and it wasn't malicious, but it was still my fault. I'll call them later this morning and own up, and it won't be the end of the world. If I get a nasty letter, it's because they were doing their job, but the situation has been rectified, so it can just go in the trash. No biggie. 

Bah! It's raining....again! I hate all this stupid rain and want some sunshine! 
Reframed: We need the rain to avoid a drought this summer. Besides, I don't have to go anywhere anyway...who cares if it's raining? Perfect excuse for a morning in sweats!   

I am convinced that I'm much grumpier when it's raining, and man, it has been raining NON STOP lately. Still, it's going to be a good day. I demand it--there's no reason for it not to be! 
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