Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Weekend/Early Week Recap

So I have been a bad blogger lately.  I'm so so sorry.  If I were one of my readers I would straight up ditch my blog after a full week of no posts by yours truly.  But thankfully, I have the best readers ever, and I know y'all will not desert me ;).  Between finding out my car was totaled on Friday and playing phone tag with my insurance company, I just couldn't seem to get myself together.  On top of that, we had a super busy weekend.  (I know, I know...excuses, excuses.) So apart from the cake pops I made last night straight from a Pillsbury cake pop kit box, my baking has been at an all time low.  But those cake pops were a hit with my little fam I must say.  Here is a little picture diary from our weekend...

Friday night we cooked out on the river.  I forgot my camera.  Bummer.  But I enjoyed one heck of a s'more.
Saturday was my little brother's girlfriend's Junior prom!  No, really. I can't believe it either. 
Isn't he dashing?  And his girlfriend is a little stunner herself!  Love those kids!

Of course they had to get a picture with big sis & their beautiful niece.  I don't know why my eyes were closed, but I was probably trying to figure out how to smile and not show my discomfort due to the stilettos I was wearing that were sinking into the grass. 
Kollyns spent some much needed quality time with Papa Todd...
...while Mommy & Daddy went to a beautiful wedding. Congrats Libbie & Scott! :)

And on Sunday we went to church, and came home and napped for awhile. 
We woke up from our nap craving a little fro-yo...so to Bloop we went.

And Monday after a long day of work wurt as Kollyns calls it, we decided cake pops were a must!

...and we ate every last one.
Happy Tuesday everyone! :)

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Made From Scratch Cinnamon Bread

After a somewhat stressful weekend, my oven was calling my name.  It felt like it had been so long since I had baked something...even though I think it was only like 4 or 5 days.  Baking is something I enjoy.  It's my stress reliever, my muse.  I think in order to get past my banged up car sitting in front of my house with a tarp draped over it...I had to do some serious baking.  Like something from SCRATCH.  I'm sort of in love with the whole made from scratch idea lately.  It just doesn't get any better than knowing exactly how your food is made, and exactly what's in it.  Kollyns and I pulled out my favorite pink mixing bowl and went to town on the homemade cinnamon bread recipe I found!  It is SO GOOD!  Too good to be hanging around in my kitchen.  The recipe makes two loaves, so I left one at home for Devin to have for breakfast and I brought one to work!  Rave reviews, I tell ya.  Make this bread if you want to impress. They will be begging you for the recipe after they try it, I promise! :)

You Will Need:

1 Cup of Softened Butter
2 Cups of Sugar
2 Eggs
2 Cups of Buttermilk
4 Cups of Flour
2 Teaspoons Baking Soda

For Cinnamon Sugar Mixture
2/3 Cups Sugar + 2 Teaspoons of Cinnamon

Mix butter, 2 cups of sugar, and eggs.  Add buttermilk, flour and baking soda & mix well.  Mix the cinnamon sugar mixture up in a separate bowl & set aside.  Divide half of the batter between two greased loaf pans.  Sprinkle most of the cinnamon mixture into both pans and swirl it in with a knife.  Pour the rest of the batter equally into both pans.  Sprinkle the remaining cinnamon sugar mixture on top of both.  Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes!  Cool in pan for several minutes before removing.

  Recipe adapted from Redfly Creations

The Tree

I had big plans for this past weekend.  I was going to do lots of adventurous things and blog about them!  But Friday when we got home from work, we had just gotten in the door good and this crazy stormed rolled in.  After about 10 seconds of incredibly strong winds, this happened...

A lovely tree from across the street was uprooted and fell across the road, and onto two of our vehicles.  I was screaming, Kollyns was screaming, and Devin was running in circles around the house trying to figure out what the heck we were supposed to do next.  The tree also brought down the main powerline, so we didn't have power.  I finally got around to getting a good look at my vehicle, and  every single part of my car has a dent, a ding, a busted window, a dangling mirror, a cracked sunroof, or a bent something.  Awesome.  Devin's truck is pretty banged up too, but my car took the biggest hit.  I screamed some more, and cried a little.  And then I just stopped whining.  I realized that this is why we pay for insurance, and vehicles can be replaced.  Kollyns & I hadn't been out of the car for more than 5 minutes when this happened.  We could've been in there.  My kid could've gotten seriously hurt.  That would've been something worth crying over.  So then I started praising God, thanking him for sparing us real pain...and allowing this to be something that we could look back on and laugh about later in life.  The Big Man was looking out for us, and I broke down reflecting on just how good He is, and how I don't come close to deserving His mercy and grace.  When things like this happen, it shows us who is really in control.  Things are going to happen, but worrying does not add a day to this life.  Our lives are in His hands, and I find complete peace in knowing that.

Friday, April 19, 2013

My Breastfeeding Story

Here is your fair warning: If you aren't interested in the topic of breastfeeding, move along to another post about protein shakes or yummy cakes! This post is for my mommy friends! :)

I've only had about 152367 people ask me about my experience with breastfeeding (okay not really, but close). Everytime I get ready to do a post about it, I convince myself I shouldn't because

1) It's a sensitive topic and can cause people to get offended.
2) The idea of feeding a baby from a boob sometimes causes people who don't have children yet to get uncomfortable.
3) I'm fearful that people will judge me because I didn't start weaning Kollyns until she turned 2.

Wait, I'm not really worried about #3. When I became a mom, my focus shifted away from what people think of me to the single most important thing in my life...the wellbeing of my child. After the infamous Time Magazine breastfeeding cover controversy last summer, I was subjected to endless snarky comments by people who thought I had been breastfeeding Kollyns for too long because she was already over a year old. I would always defend myself with the fact that the AAP recommends breastfeeding until at least the age of 1, and internationally the average weaning age is 2! I'm proud of myself for ignoring everyone's remarks and opinions and doing what I knew was best for me and my little girl. Here's my story...

When I started thinking about getting pregnant, I began to read...a lot. I read every how-to book that I could get my hands on. If ever there was something I was going to get right in life...I wanted it to be the way I tackled the challenges of motherhood.  And yes, being a mom has been the absolute most challenging thing I have ever experienced.  But it has also been the most rewarding.  Being responsible for the most amazing little being is a huge thing to take on, but in doing so my heart has grown.  My heart is now toddling around outside of my body in the form of this beautiful, perfect, precious, feisty little blue eyed girl.  I matured in more ways that I could ever imagine and I grew up fast.  I was 23 when I had Kollyns, which is a great age to have a kid...but it's still young and I didn't realize until I had her how much growing up I still had to do.  As soon as I found out I was pregnant this process started...the process of me evolving into Mama Kelsey.  Everything I would drink, eat, see, smell...in the back of my mind I was thinking "Is this safe for my baby?"  The worrying hasn't stopped since then and probably will never stop.  There is one thing that I did have control over, though...and that is what I chose to feed her.  I knew that breastfeeding was the best possible thing I could do for Kollyns and for myself.  It's no secret that the benefits of breastfeeding are incredible, so I had made my mind up that no matter how hard it was I was DOING IT!  I am super modest, so I was uncomfortable with the thought of feeding my child directly from my breast, and when I first had her she would only latch well to my left side.  I had a lactation consultant in the hospital that was doing all kinds of gymnastics with my boobs and my baby, trying to get her to latch properly.  Ha, now that's awkward.  I was exhausted.  I had literally just gotten settled in my room and here is this lady that I had known for about 5 seconds pulling on my boob (imagine the discomfort).  Kollyns still wouldn't latch to the right side.  I was so scared of losing my milk supply that I requested a breast pump in my room.  And here they came with this monster milking machine (a Medela).  I felt just like a cow, and Kollyns feeding directly from me was heaven compared to attaching a vacuum to my boob.  I'm very thankful that my body responded to the pump and Kollyns got all of the colustrum into her system via bottle feeding.  I pumped around the clock every 3-4 hours while I was at the hospital.  The Medela pump was amazing.  We came home and got settled in and it was pumping time again.  I swear everytime I turned around it was time to pump again.  I pulled out my Avent breast pump that I had gotten at my baby shower, and my body did not respond AT ALL.  No milk was coming from me, not even a drop!  I went into sheer panic mode and literally started crying my eyes out.  I had failed.  Then it hit me, it was the pump.  I sent Devin straight to Target and he bought me the Medela Pump in Style, and some backup bottles just in case my biggest fears were realized and I had to feed her formula.  Thank goodness the pump had been the problem.  The Medela pump worked like a charm.  No less painful, but I pumped out about 4-6 ounces from each breast every 3-4 hours around the clock for 3 solid months.  The worst part about pumping was waking up even when Kollyns was asleep to pump because my boobs felt like they were about to explode and I had to get the milk out.  Some nights I would finish pumping, and as soon as I laid my head back down Kollyns would wake up for a feeding.  So after my 15 minutes of pumping, I would have to stay up another 30 minutes to get her bottle ready and feed her in the middle of the night.  Even better, feeding her WHILE pumping was quite the challenge...but I eventually mastered it.  That was a long 3 months of bottle washing and sterilizing (I don't have a dishwasher, I know what you're thinking...and I'm aware that it's 2013), freezing and writing dates/ounces on bags with sharpies, and packing bottles AND my pump every single time we left the house.  I can honestly say I thought about QUITTING (gasp) when Kollyns was 3 months old.  I was exhausted, tired of being milked by a machine...and my freezer was running out of space.  I started crying again.  I didn't want to be selfish and give up on providing my daughter with the best possible nutrition, but I just couldn't do it anymore.  Finally that night I decided to try and get her to latch as my final effort to prolong breastfeeding my girl.  She latched perfectly on both boobs!  From that point forward I chunked the bottles and the freezer bags, and stored my pump far away from me in a deep dark closet.  I haven't looked back since.  (I also work with my family so I have been able to bring her to work with me every single day since she was a newborn.  I have them to thank for those 2 years because obviously if I couldn't be with her every hour of every day, I wouldn't have been able to part with the dreaded pump so soon.)  Nursing became something I enjoyed.  It was bonding time, not a chore.  I didn't have to pack anything but diapers and extra clothes when we went places.  I never had to worry about running out of bottles or freezer bags on overnight trips because all she needed was me!  Night time was a dream because we are a co-sleeping family and when she got hungry there was no preparation involved.  I quickly threw all of my modesty out of the window and started viewing my boobs as strictly functional.  Ask anyone in my family, I didn't care who I was around...if my baby was hungry I was going to feed her.  If they didn't like it they could look the other way.  Yes.  I went from the girl who felt incredibly uncomfortable when I saw someone breastfeeding, and kind of freaked out by the idea of nursing...to that chick who breastfeeds her toddler.  I couldn't be more proud of myself for lasting 2 years breastfeeding.  It wasn't always easy, I had zero freedom and could only go on a date with my husband if it was 3 hours or less because Kollyns refused to drink from a bottle.  (Which I didn't mind at all because I hated being away from her for more than 2 minutes at a time anyway.) And to this day, she has NEVER spent a night away from me.  Weaning at age 2 was quite a draining process as well, because it's not like she drank from a bottle and I could just swap out the milk.  We both cried many times, but eventually she just stopped asking for it.  Believe it or not I still felt guilty for weaning her at the age of 2!  She has been the healthiest kid ever, and I'm pretty sure I owe that to lots of breastmilk and lots of prayers.  It's a big deal to breastfeed a kid for 2 years because it's practically unheard of for a working mom to do that.  Yes, I totally just tooted my own horn because it took alot of work and effort, and alot of encouragement from fellow breastfeeding mamas...so I officially earned bragging rights. 

I encourage all expectant mothers, or anyone who plans to have children to breastfeed for as long as you can, if you are able to.  I will be happy to offer up my support to anyone who has questions or needs advice!  Please feel free to message me and I will be your biggest encourager!  For the mommies that didn't breastfeed or have no desire to, I am not judging you or trying to make you feel bad for not breastfeeding.  Everyone is different, and each mama knows what's best for her own child! I just thought it was time for me to share MY breastfeeding experience.  :)

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Girl Scout Caramel Delight Shake

I'm kind of in love with Girl Scout Caramel Delight Cookies.  I can eat about 2 rows of those little pieces of heaven like it's my job.  Which is why I'm SO glad I have discovered a protein shake that can take the place of them.  Obviously nothing is better than the actual cookie, but you can drink this without feeling guilty about it later...so that in itself makes this yummy shake a dream!  Enjoy!

1/2 Cup Lowfat Cottage Cheese or Plain Greek Yogurt
1 Scoop Vanilla Protein Powder (I use Syntha 6 Vanilla Ice Cream Flavor)
1/4 Teaspoon Coconut Extract
2 TBSP Jello Sugarfree Chocolate Instant Pudding Mix
1/8 TSP Caramel Extract
1/2 Cup Water
Add Several Ice Cubes according to desired thickness

& I know these extracts are kind of expensive but a little goes a long way, so once you stock your cabinets you're good to go! 

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Heather's Wonderful Visions!

Devin and I had been putting off family photographs since Kollyns was a newborn.  Mostly because my husband absolutely loathes having his picture taken, and because life is busy and I've just never gotten around to it.  Of course we play around with our camera and take sweet pictures here and there like any family, but not many of them are wall worthy.  I follow Visions by Heather on facebook (go like it!), and I've always admired Heather's work.  So I knew when we finally got around to it, I would definitely be choosing her to capture our memories!  Devin's work schedule is extremely unpredictable, but lo and behold I found out on a Friday that he had the following Monday & Tuesday off.  I immediately contacted Heather and she worked us in with even the shortest of notice.  It turns out the day we chose was pretty perfect too because the weather was absolutely fabulous!  We scheduled a mini-session which is very reasonably priced and she was willing to take the photos at a location of our choice.  After walking around for about 5 minutes, she found the perfect spots to capture us in our element having fun as a family.  She really did a beautiful job, and I must add that it was such a great experience that Devin even said he wouldn't mind taking photos again sometime in the future with her (and THAT'S a big deal).  She let us have fun while she worked her magic.  It doesn't get any better than that!  Thank you so much Heather for being such a joy to be around, for a great time and for beautiful photographs!  We will treasure these forever, and we will definitely be working with you again! 

Enjoy some photos from our recent session & get in touch with Visions by Heather Photography and schedule your session!




Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Healthy Strawberry Banana Muffins

I love muffins, but I have never ever attempted to make them homemade.  My kitchen was a hot mess last night.  I'm talking flour all over me, and Kollyns, and the refrigerator doors and probably even the ceiling.  I have to be real honest, these little things are kind of a pain in the butt to make.  But I found satisfaction in knowing EXACTLY what was going into my muffins.  That's the beauty of making something at home, and feeling good about what I'm feeding my family.  It makes all of the work well worth it.  These were delicious and tasted so fresh!!! They are at the top of my breakfast list from now on.  I can't wait to use this same recipe and switch up the fruits I use! 

You Will Need

1 1/4 Cups All Purpose Flour
1/4 Cup White Sugar
1/4 Cup Light Brown Sugar Firmly Packed
1/2 Teaspoon Baking Soda
1/2 Teaspoon Ground Cinnamon
1/2 Medium Banana Mashed
1/2 Medium Banana Diced
1/4 Cup Apple Sauce
1 Beaten Egg White
1 Tsp Vanilla Extract
1 Cup Diced Strawberries

Preheat Oven to 350 Degrees.  Spray muffin tray with Pam.  In a large bowl, pour in the flour, white sugar, brown sugar, baking soda & cinnamon.  Mix well.  Add in the mashed banana and stir.  Add applesauce, egg white, vanilla, and stir.  Careful not to overmix.  Fold in the diced strawberries and banana slices.  Pour batter into muffin tray. I filled the cups almost to the top because I like a big puffy muffin.  Bake for 15 Minutes.  Enjoy! 

Recipe Adapted from Sally's Baking Addiction

Monday, April 15, 2013

The River

The weather has officially warmed up, and I'm appreciating it alot more this time around because we had to wait so much longer for it than usual.  For us, warm spring and summer days mean hanging out by the river and playing 'tornhole' (cornhole) as Kollyns calls it, cooking out, and having some lovely laid back conversations with great friends and family.  We live for this time of year, well and all those other times.  Sunday after church we loaded up and headed down to the river.  I left Kollyns in her church dress because I had to wake her up from a nap to get her into the car, and trying to change her clothes when she first wakes up is not my favorite thing to do.  Just this once, I'm thankful for her little feisty 'I just woke up mama, leave me alone' attitude because that little white dress made for some too cute for words photo ops.  I love my little family, and my friends...and it just doesn't get any better than enjoying life in its simplest form with them.


Coconut Cream Cake

I love coconut.  And I love chocolate.  Coconut + Chocolate = Pure Delight.

You may remember seeing a picture of this delish cake HERE among other wonderful things that resulted from me ditching social media and enjoying every moment last weekend.  I gave this cake away about 3.5 seconds after I made it because it would've posed a threat to my overall well being if it were staring at me everytime I opened my refrigerator.  And really part of the reason I love baking is because it makes the people that I love really really really happy when I bring them a cake. Which makes me really really happy.

You will need:

1 Box of German Chocolate Cake Mix
2 Small Boxes of Coconut Cream Jello Instant Pudding
1/2 Cup of Vegetable Oil
1 1/4 Cups Water
4 Eggs
2 Cups of Powdered Sugar
1/2 Stick of Butter (Softened)
3 Splashes of Milk
1 Cup of Sweetened Coconut Flakes
1/2 Box of Coconut Cream Vanilla Instant Pudding

Preheat oven to 350 Degrees. Combine cake mix, puddings, eggs, water & vegetable oil in large bowl with electric mixer. Once blended, pour into greased bundt pan (I use Pam) and bake for 40 minutes. Let cake cool in pan for several minutes, then flip it onto a platter and allow it to cool for another 30 minutes. While cake cools, combine powdered sugar, softened butter and milk & 1/2 box coconut cream instant pudding. until it becomes creamy.  Allow it to thicken in the refrigerator for about 15 minutes before spreading it on cooled cake.  Top with coconut flakes & enjoy!

Make sure you use german chocolate cake mix too, & try your very best to find the coconut cream pudding...because those two really put this cake over the top. If you can't find the coconut cream pudding you can always use vanilla pudding and add coconut flakes to the batter. But really, FIND the coconut cream pudding! :)

Adapted from this recipe at Mix & Match Mama

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Hebrews 6:19

I love this little chalkboard I created at the entrance of my kitchen.  The teacher in me just loves to play with chalk!  I love using it as a way to inspire my little family!  Happy Saturday!

Friday, April 12, 2013

I Broke Up With Social Media

Last Friday I was at my mom's spending time with her as I always do.  We were mid-conversation and she said "Kels, do you ever put that phone down?" I was spending 'quality time' with my mom while subconsciously scrolling through my phone out of HABIT.  I wasn't even thinking about it, or paying attention to what I was looking at. And honestly, I didn't even realize that my phone was in my hand.  What the heck is wrong with me?  I'm sitting here missing out on valuable time with my mom & daughter because I am consumed with these outlets of communication with people I barely know.  Then I thought about it and recalled the times when I have been trying to have a conversation with someone and they were talking to me, but their eyes were glued to a phone.  So annoying.  Oh my gosh, I'm that annoying person that doesn't halfway pay attention to people when they are trying to have a conversation with me!  At that moment I vowed to put my phone down for an entire week and see how much of life I had been missing & how much of a difference it made in how I spent my time.  Saturday morning I woke up at 7am and instead of laying in my bed scrolling through my phone I left it on the charger, hopped up & made my coffee. The rest is history.  We have had the best weekend/week in a long time.  I had some amazing conversations and we had some fabulous little adventures.  I didn't miss social media at all and I will no longer have my phone attached to my hand at any time!  Here's a little recap of the past week.

FinLee & BroDee both had haircuts and baths by 9am on Saturday!  They look so handsome!

We played in the yard after we finished working out!

We posed a little bit.

And ran around the yard ALOT.

And baked another cake.

Chocolate Coconut to be exact.

Went to church.

I took some pretty little pictures of the most beautiful girl.
 We went to the river and spent time with Nanny Betty & Papa Roger.

And this isn't even half of it.  But I learned a valuable lesson this past week, and I refuse to miss another beautiful moment with my family because of a silly phone.  I'm not saying I will never again get on facebook or twitter, but I'm limiting it to when my pretty girl is fast asleep!