Summertime Favs!

Oh I’m loving some things right now. Loving, them BIG!

  1. I ordered this blanket for myself for my birthday a few weeks ago. Back Story: my kids were constantly wrapped in Aden and Anias muslin as babies. Lil and my nephew, Ephram, would not leave the house without one as toddlers. I just got really used to that soft & cozy fabric around me and it reminds me of when these precious lumps were babies. Sooooo, I saw that they sell blankets for adults made of muslin and I needed something for the summer months. Enter: this blankie for adults. It has one great review and one not so great. I love it. Judah talks about how soft and cozy it is every time he slips in to cuddle when he wakes me up in the morning. It’s pretty much a dream come true.
  2. Vivofit jr. 3 for kids! A few friends of ours have purchased these watches for their kids and our kids wanted them bad! So we asked for them as a gift for their birthdays and they haven’t taken them off since. I will say, I had a talk with both of my kids once they got them that we don’t care how many steps they have in a day, or how many minutes they are active, but that we want them to know its important to move their bodies so that they are strong and can do everything they want their bodies to do. I’m hyper-vigilant about our messaging when it comes to bodies and health in a society (and family line, honestly) full of eating-disorders. So our language is health/strength/movement vs. anything visual! If only I spoke to myself the same way!
  3. I really like birkenstocks but sometimes they bother my arch. I saw these Cushionaire birk look-a-likes as a great option on instagram from someone who has the same issue. They are SO comfortable and for goodness sakes they’re $25 instead of $100! I’m usually happy to spend the money for comfortable and long-lasting shoes because I have a lot of arch pain and am prone to issues but I don’t think I will buy birks again.
  4. I’m at the point in my life that I buy clothing from Costco. I won’t apologize for it. One of my closest friends texts me from Texas when she (or her mom, haha!) are at her special Sams club in Texas and I text her when I’m at Costco. The athleisure is unreal at these stores! Enter: this drawstring dress that was $11.99 in store! What!? Does Costco know what clothes cost in the rest of the world?! I actually forgot to text her about this dress so I may get yelled at. (Sorry, Missy!)
  5. My kids don’t typically LOVE homework. They are sour every summer when I get out bridge books to help get them ready for the next year. I don’t know what kind of voodoo magic is in these particular books but I literally have to stop them from doing more! “sorry kids, time to stop the books, we’ve got to go to the pool”. WHAT? This is not normal for our family. I’m here for it, though!

Okay! That’s it for now. Hope you’re loving summer!!

Favorite Things

Our Family’s Kid Stuff that Has Stood the Test of Time

Our kids are now 6&8. How did THAT happen? I see a lot of posts on social media asking for gift ideas and favorite toys that will last. I thought I’d put together a short list of our family favorites.

  1. When we moved to our current home, we sadly had to come to grips with the fact that our play room was smaller. Waaaaaay smaller. So our oversized furniture wasn’t going to work. We sold it and bought this Nugget Couch in navy as a replacement. It is a couch sometimes, a ramp, a slide, a fort, etc. It is everything my kids want it to be and we LOVE it.
  2. Magnatiles, or picasso tiles. We have a huge collection of these and it is definitely cost effective to get the Picasso. They work together and my kids have loved them for years. We’ve gotten a few additions along the way, like vehicles bases and they really have been a favorite.
  3. Memberships. Zoo, Science Center, or anywhere else you can think of. I find taking the pressure off of “this was really expensive so we need to be here for 8 hours for it to be worth it”, is very helpful to my personality. Making the zoo a casual, frequent experience has been a true gift to our family.
  4. Magic Tracks are a huge hit for our Judah. He loves to watch things move and has a very critical, “how does this work” kind of brain and this toy has been a real joy for him to manipulate.
  5. Legos. That is pretty self explanatory.
  6. Dress-ups. Anything from Elsa to Harry Potter to ninjas to Dory. My kids have LOVED dressing up forever.
  7. We have had a few different “kitchen” type options for our kids over the years. At the end of the day, they end up playing with the play food more than the play kitchen. Unless they are at someone else’s house. Then they obsess over the kitchen! I don’t know why.
  8. Nintendo Switch. There, I said it. My kids play with screens.
  9. Craft supplies. Alllll day long. I love gifts that run out and don’t need to be stored for life and Lillian loves creating. Clay, model magic, paint, paper, markers, pastels. Any of it!
  10. Anything with wheels outside. Bikes, motorized cars, scooters. Anything that requires a helmet is beloved.

A note: Lillian is like her mother in that she has a one-track mind. (I remember in middle school telling my mom I would forego lunch if she would use that money to buy me a pack of Pokemon cards). My Lil will beg and be so hyper-focused on getting something, then she gets it and rarely plays with it. Insert LOL dolls, Polly Pocket, or any other miniature kind of doll-ish thing. They have a short shelf life in our house but they are beloved for a week or two. If you ask her about her favorite toys, she will say Polly Pocket. They just don’t get the hours of play I’d think they would.

Image of what I would love our play room to look like. It does not, however look like this.

Playroom HD Stock Images | Shutterstock

Favorites: Christmas Gift Edition

It’s been too long! I’ve got a list of some current favorite things. I hope you enjoy them!

  1. Delonghi Magnifica. Dan got me this beauty for Christmas last year and we just feel like we are living our best lives. We got ours refurbished on eBay to knock a few hundo off the steep price tag. Lattes every stinking day.
  2. I’m a tank top wearer. I usually wear them under everything and I’m tall  (5.10) so I like them longggg. These are my current faves. I had a few from free people at a whopping $28 a pop and it just seemed excessive. I have another one that is also long but more textured, like a chunky rib that I also like but I cant find it on the site.
  3. I got a coupon in the mail last spring for a free full sized Moisture Surge Overnight Mask with ANY purchase from Clinique. Uh, yes! My skin is so dry in the winter and this has been a game changer this year. Love, love, love it. Clinique does surprisingly well with EWG ratings, btw. Who knew?!
  4. This is gross. We got this tushy when the pandemic hit. We don’t need to worry about toilet paper shortages and it may be the best purchase we made in 2020. I don’t especially want to talk about this with you but just trust me that it works. 
  5. I keep reading over and over how one of the best things we can do is be outside. Helps with immunity, Vitamin D (which can be a huge factor of how severe covid is in your body), mental health, etc. So everyone is getting some Merino Wool shirts (benefits are endless look it up!) and socks in their stockings. We will be outside all winter!  Mountain Warehouse is having some awesome sales.
  6. There are lots of expensive facial cleansing brushes but I have no desire to spend a ton of money. I will say my face is smoother and feels cleaner from using this so I think its worth the $20. It also dropped from six feet in he air onto a tile floor and it still works. 
  7. The Terra Core. I have a love/hate relationship with this. It enhances all exercises, no matter what I do on it my core hurts the next day which is a win. Truly. But it’s big so it takes up room in my house. I got it on prime day for $180 total including shipping so maybe try for Black Friday.

I think thats it for now! Happy Shopping.



Never again will I live so many milestones in a single decade. I got married, had all the kids, bought 3 houses, and got to stay home to raise my precious lumps full time.

I also met sorrow full on. For 3.5 years I’ve tried to understand what it means to trust God. I wish I had answers beyond trying to do it everyday but I don’t. What I have learned for the first time in my life was to yearn for heaven. To want to experience redemption and restoration not just for my sister and her brain injury but in life. How can I be a part of bringing wholeness and restoration to earth?

My heart has been broken for those that are not living (what I would perceive to be) a happy ending. The stories are easy to find. Parents having to bury their kids, minor sex trafficking, health issues that are totally avoidable, etc. etc. etc.. There’s a feeling of, “GOD DO SOMETHING.”

I met with someone a few months ago who had lived through his family’s own trauma. He said to me that it doesn’t matter what tough questions I have, it only matters who I’m asking. He had been practicing this himself.

It stuck with me. Am I willing to ask the awful questions every day of God? “Why didn’t you intervene?” “Have you forgotten our family?” “Are you good?” “Who else will you take from me?” “What next?” “Why only heal some people?”

So that’s where I am. Committing for 2020 and beyond that I’ll ask the questions and I’ll ask them of God. I won’t pout. I won’t withhold. I won’t be silent. I will show up and ask the questions every single day.

I hope you each had moments of wonder and beauty in your Christmas season. We found those moments in the midst of the kiddos having the flu. It forced us to slow down and that’s not a bad thing!

If you, like me, are feeling “bleh” about a new year. Worried. Afraid to be hopeful. Apprehensive in general. Reach out! Can’t hurt to go at it together!


You Need this Weeknight Dinner

Okay so if you’re greek, this quick meal could actually offend you. Maybe move on along. I made this meal up with Trader Joes foods a few weeks ago. We’ve been having it every week and we will likely have it every week for the next six months until we’re sick of it. Then we’ll forget about it for 3 years. It’s feast or famine! What can I say…


Grocery List AT TRADER JOES:

1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breast tenderloins

1 container of the Tzatziki creamy garlic cucumber dip

1 package of frozen Garlic Naan

1 container Goddess Dressing

1 bag of the Champs Elysees salad (the only salad I buy).


I marinate the chicken in the Goddess Dressing for a couple of hours. Maybe 4-ish.8RQCYSveOttI4qqsF8A

While I’m grilling the chicken, I throw the Garlic Naan in the oven for a couple minutes.


When they’re both finished, I pour the rest of the salad dressing on a bag of salad. Sometimes I sprinkle some parmasean cheese on it if I’m feeling fancy.


Heres the magic part. I put several tablespoons of the tatziki on the naan. Then I cut up some chicken and put it on there. Then I top it all with salad.


Guys. IT IS SO GOOD. I fold it up and eat it like a taco. Dan rolls his eyes at me while I applaud myself for such a delicious meal. Now hurry and go to Trader Joes so you can be a super chef as well.

Enjoy! Start to finish cooking is 15 minutes!


Praying for Eva (and Katie)

Internet world, it has been a bit of a crazy week. I would say I had a complete PTSD breakdown. I happened across a family on Instagram with a seven year old named Eva. Two weeks ago she had a freak accident, fell off of a golf cart and had a traumatic brain injury. I’ve been following along on the posts as her parents have expressed great faith in God to heal their sweet daughter while wrestling with what is happening medically.

The dad posted last night, “Today was a very difficult day. There are no big changes with Eva, but the conversations the doctors are now having with us feel like I’m taking punch after punch until I can barely stand.
Fair warning, I’m gonna get pretty raw here.

Medically, the doctors are gently saying they essentially believe there’s a good chance Eva will be in a vegetative state for the rest of her life, or close to it. All her movements, they’re saying, are reflexive, not intentional, and the best we could hope for would be some eventual movement of her eyes and limbs…after a year of rehabilitation. They even looked us in the eyes and asked, based on their prediction of her future quality of life, if we’d like to keep her on life-support or not.
I’ve never felt this kind of anger before.
I’m angry at the doctors for having such worst-case-scenario mindsets, I’m angry at myself for feeling so hopeless and clueless and inadequate, but mostly I’m angry at God.
He made Eva so full of life and joy and crazy and fun, why would He allow this freak accident to happen, only to keep her alive…but unable to talk, see, or move? I would much more have preferred for Him to have taken her to wholeness and life with Him the moment she hit her head, rather than keep her body alive but eliminate her spark.
What the heck, God?
I’ve never felt more like I need to sob and also smash everything I can touch than I do today.
I’m out of prayers. I feel like I’ve been praying non-stop for 2 weeks straight and am running on fumes. I mean, Jesus simply spoke healing and life and authority over sickness and death once and people were healed or rose from the dead. Why is God taking so long in answering my prayers? I know and have absolute faith that God is bigger than Eva’s injury, than the atoms in her brain and skull, bigger than brain scans and doctors’ opinions, bigger than the breathing tube still in her throat. I have zero doubt that God could shock this hospital and the world with His power through Eva’s healing…but why isn’t He? And if He’s not going to, why keep Eva around for so long, only to let me (and tens of thousands of others) down? I’m angry and empty and lost and a million miles past confused.
But still trying to hold on to this:

I waited patiently for the Lord to help me,  and he turned to me and heard my cry.
He lifted me out of the pit of despair,  out of the mud and the mire.
He set my feet on solid ground  and steadied me as I walked along.
He has given me a new song to sing,  a hymn of praise to our God.
Many will see what he has done and be amazed.  They will put their trust in the Lord. – Psalm 40:1-3 *I also want to say, regardless of how my faith is being tested, the medical professionals (doctors, nurses, specialists, etc.) have all been fantastic. I fully understand they are doing their job and doing with such love and care for Eva and us. I have zero resentment or frustration with them, just frustration with the reality of our world challenging my faith.

Sound familiar? I could have written this 3 years ago. I think I did! Watching these posts pop up has forced me to walk through the trauma of such a horrendous diagnosis all over again. Its also made me walk through them again as a bystander and pray for all of the same things but for a seven year old.

I took Judah to see Katie yesterday. We sat with her, listened to worship music, and I updated her on her kids first days of school. I told her about Eva and she nodded when I asked if shed like to pray for her. Shocking-the tears flowed all over again. Its a holy place, sitting with Katie, wrecked by a brain injury, as we pray for Eva still in a coma for her brain injury. Holy, and beautiful, and so. very. hard.

I stand three years later, still wondering why Katie and now Eva haven’t sprung out of their hospital beds, healed miraculously and completely. Still, I know God is there with them in those beds, it’s His angels all around them. He is sometimes so hard to see but other days its clear. He was there when Katie’s tracheotomy came out when the doctors said it wouldn’t. He was there when her vocal chords started making sounds when the doctors said they wouldn’t. He was there when she started writing, when the doctors said shed never wake up. He’s been there all along. It doesn’t look how I want it to. But HE IS THERE for it anyway.

Take a minute today, please! Pray for Eva to wake up and talk! And as always, pray for our Katie to be restored.

Here is a picture of Katie a few months ago with her daughter in her lap for one of the first times since her brain injury. (thank you botox for strengthening her muscles!)



Favorite Things

Baltimore Yummies

I thought I’d take a new spin on my usual “favorite things” posts and make one all about food in Baltimore.

I love food and I really just wanted to give you some ideas if you’re in a food slump.

  1. The Orchard Market. My mouth is actually watering as I type this. This little restaurant is BYOB. Its a totally unassuming place tucked back off of the main drag. Dan and I do not look at the menu. We walk in and sit down and order two things and we moan while we eat. I’m serious. We share the Mango Pear Salad and then we order the Chicken Fesenjune. It is not pretty when it comes out. But just close your eyes. I promise you wont regret it. And its family owned! Just go. (Bonus is we can walk!)
  2. I actually did not love this restaurant the first time I went. A few years later we were at our neighbor’s house and this is what we had and we have been back one billion times. By the way have you seen that Sandra Bullock movie “Two Weeks Notice”? check out this clip at 1:13-its my neighbor when we went to her house for dinner. No lies. Including the memorized numbers. I digress. They have huge portions so we order a few things and eat it for four days straight. Its Thai Spice and Dice. We order the chicken pad Thai, pineapple rice, and cashew beef. And sometimes a couple spring roles and mango sticky rice. We also walk here. And they sell yummy ice cream. I believe this one is BYOB as well.
  3. I REALLY love the Food Market. It is not a market. It is a delicious restaurant. If I go there for brunch I get the Crab Benedict. I love dinner there as well and I’ve gotten a different thing each time and loved them all. I also like to taste everyone’s food so truly, I can say its all delicious. Its pricey but worth every dime. There is another restaurant that many people think is Baltimore’s best farm to table a few miles away and in my opinion-I’ll choose Food Market every time. Super sweet vibe there, and my Padre made some of the finishes for the restaurant which makes me like it even more. Ooooh and yummy cocktails!
  4. Hamilton Tavern. I will bring my babies to that bar any day of the week. They’re known for their cheeseburger with bacon and egg on top.
  5. Want cheep Mexican Food? Look no further then El Salto. Dan gets the California Burrito. I get the number 9. We leave at around 20 bucks. My kids pretty much eat the chips and salsa (and guac and queso, LET ME LIVE!) and we force feed them some protein from our dishes.
  6. Another favorite date night restaurant is McFauls Ironhorse Tavern. Their menu is seasonal like many local places so some of our favorites aren’t always there. Dan LOVES the Philly cheesesteak Tacos and Crab Mac. They’re a bit too much for me. They have a great Teriyaki Salmon and a fun Taco Tuesday night. I also really liked their Powerhouse wrap and their Shepherds Pie. Their Strawberry Mule is DELISH. Check out their menu!
  7. Cunninghams CAFE. People rave about the dinners at the upscale restaurant next door but I’m here to tell you that you need to go to the cafe. The breakfast burrito is the best I’ve had. Lattes are to die for. My kids like every baked good they sell. I wish they had a drive through.
  8. Last but not least, Kyodai. I’m a sushi lover and Dan is not. So if he’s out of town I get some yummy carry-out from Kyodai. Shocking—–I get the same thing every time. John Roll (not on the menu just order it and trust me), Maryland roll with asparagus instead of avocado, and a shrimp Tempura. SO yummy. Yes its a lot of food but I have to stock up!

Thats it for now! I hope you’ll go try one of these restaurants.



Favorite Things

Winter Favorites, 2019

I am bursting with things I’ve been loving lately! I cant wait to share.

  1. This outdoor light.  We purchased ours for $130 at Costco. It sends you a text message each time someone comes to your front door with a video of them walking up. You can use a microphone to talk to them if you wish or you can ignore them completely because you know you don’t want to talk to another random energy solicitor. We love it!
  2. These face wash towels. My MIL gave me one for Christmas and I’ve bought a few more since then because they’re so nice! You can wash your face without any soap. Also, they are AWESOME for getting the sand and sunscreen off of kid’s faces after a long day at the beach. They’re great for travel!
  3. If you’re a Trader Joes shopper I’ve had a few favorites the last few months. Everything But the Bagel seasoning, Stevia extract powder, and frozen artichoke hearts. I use the bagel seasoning on anything! Avocados, eggs, veggies, bagels with cream cheese. Its awesome. I use the stevia extract powder for my iced tea that I’m addicted to. I use the artichokes in pasta or I simply cook them and eat them as a side with some seasoning.
  4. This mascara is magical. I can say nothing else about it.
  5. I am focusing a lot more on prayer this year and so far this prayer journal has been a huge help. Its from Val Marie Paper. I sit down with it each day and pick a few of the sections to pray through. I have a prayer app that includes groups from some mamas at church and from my bible study and I’ll even copy down some of those prayers in the pages. I highly recommend it and am fine paying $5 a month for the book. I also cant wait until the end of the year when I can see how God has worked. I love JANUARY!
  6. I am alllll about this pasta. It is husband approved. We don’t make much pasta but when I do, its been this. Its pricy.6o7qntpiq7+fia4qyopyxg

Miscellaneous Pro Tip: USE IKEA BAGS AT COSTCO. It has changed my life.


Weeks 3&4 of THE Shred

My gym was closed for a week around Labor Day so I’m a little late on reporting the last two weeks! I’m down 7.4 lbs and 1.1%body fat.

I’m not totally thrilled with the numbers but I think its because I’m not drinking enough water. This week I’m going to focus on drinking way more water and see how the fat percentage changes next week. I also cheated a tiny bit on Labor Day. So that didn’t help!

In other news, I’ve been hooked on protein pancakes! 1/4 cup cottage cheese, 1/2 cup dry oatmeal, 2 eggs, 1 teaspoon vanilla, 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon. Mix it all up in the blender, cook and top with berries! I even threw a banana in there one day and put a super thin layer of peanut butter on top. Yummy!

I’m 1/3 of the way finished the shred! I’m really loving this food plan, it feels like I could do it forever…which is obviously the point. I miss my friends in the class I typically take (shout out to 6:30am!!) but I always enjoy lifting once I’m doing it. Another goal this week is 4 sessions of cardio. I completed one this morning. I’ve got to get creative with all the babes around but I’m committed.

Check back next week!

For Katie the Warrior, None of the Above

Thankful, Thankful

My life is not perfect. Ive been super open with the sorrow of the last two years, especially after my sister’s brain injury. But I have to take a moment to celebrate.

I dropped off my two kids to two schools I love this week. I sat in the car grinning that it all worked out. God provided money where there was no money. He calmed nerves, He moved some mountains, He created a way.

In the midst of living through some circumstances I would never choose, and feeling loss in places I never thought would be deserts, I have to shout with gladness that some of my deepest desires have been fulfilled. Staying home with my kids, sending them to schools who teach them to love and revere God, it is a dream come true.

I will never understand the God who did not intervene how I wanted with my sister, yet still cares deeply about the details and desires of my heart. I can say with confidence that He is near. At the end of the day, thats everything.

I hope you all are having a wonderful first week of school if your lives, like ours, are now on a school calendar. I’m praying for safe kids this year everywhere, and that they know God as near.