Monday, August 3, 2015

NoGii Vanilla Banana Protein Smoothie Recipe

Disclosure:  I received this product for free from the sponsor of the Moms Meet program, May Media Group LLC, who received it directly from the manufacturer.  My opinions are my own and do not necessarily reflect those of May Media Group LLC or NoGii.

One of my favorite things about being in the kitchen is cooking and creating new recipes with Moo.  She's quite the little chef in training.  Plus, with so much attention on JJ, Mommy & Moo time has become a crucial part of our bonding ritual.  If you checked out my previous NoGii review, you would know that I am a big fan of their products mainly because they're gluten-free, but also because they taste great and they're healthy.

I've really fall in love with their Vanilla Bean Whey & Quinoa Protein powder.  It allows me to enjoy a nutritious meal while staying on the go with my family.  So, Moo and I decided to hit the kitchen and show you guys how I make my smoothies.  Check out our YouTube video below for the recipe!  We hope you enjoy. 

If you'd like to try out some NoGii products, visit your local Harris Teeter, Walgreens or use their store locator to find out what store near you sells their products.  Don't forget to follow them on FacebookTwitter and Instagram to stay up to date on new product offerings and more.

What is one of your favorite things to make in the kitchen with your kids?

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Thursday, July 30, 2015

Thankful Thursday

Disclosure:  There are affiliate links in this post for the cookbooks listed.

"Motherhood is not a hobby, it is a calling.  It is not something to do if you can squeeze the time in.  It is what God gave you time for."

~Neil L. Anderson

Happy Thankful Thursday!  This week got off to a bit of an overwhelming start.  As much progress as JJ has made in his speech, there are other areas that I'm starting to see him regress in.  So I went to talk to his pediatrician and we both decided that he will greatly benefit from some extra therapy services. Now we're just waiting for an official evaluation from his Autism specialist, who will then request the services for him.  

When all's said and done we're looking at maybe a total of three therapists.  I'm not sure how we're going to make it all work in terms of scheduling which therapist comes on which days.  Also, my other fear is that he'll get too overwhelmed and shut down.  It took him a long time to warm up his speech therapist and I'm just hoping he'll have an easier time bonding with his other therapists.

Being a mom to a child with Autism is hard.  Like really, really, really hard.  However, I keep reminding myself that motherhood is calling and God saw something in me that made me capable of raising a special needs child.  I'm beyond grateful to be my son's mom because he's taught me so much more about what strength truly is.  He motivates me to continue to grow as mother and role model.

I'm even more grateful for his pediatrician.  She knows to expect to see us at least once a month during the warmer months and 2-3 times during the colder ones.  Even when it's something serious going on with the kids, she does a great job of soothing me and getting me to calm down.  I love that she's not one of those doctors that toss out big medical terms without breaking it down for us non-medical folks.

I had a mini meltdown this week in her office when she told me she could see how overwhelmed and concerned I was, but she could also see what a great job I was doing not letting it consume me.  And while I don't need recognition for doing what I am supposed to do as a parent- being responsible and attentive-, it was nice to know that somebody sees my effort and that I'm not totally failing at this motherhood thing.

I'm thankful that we got spend some time at one of our favorite libraries.  Moo had blast playing with the new toys they installed in the kids' area.  She couldn't believe how much her second favorite library here had changed.  Of course, JJ and I already knew of these changes because we've visited it a few times before returning from doctor appointments last school year.  It was great to watch my two littles play.

I'm also thankful that his pediatrician talked to me about looking into some cookbooks that had recipes specifically made for people with Autism and food allergies.  I never knew that eliminating certain foods while eating more of other foods could help.  Also, Moo let it be know in no uncertain terms that she was ready to see some new dishes on our menu.  So I'm stepping my game up with the help of these cookbooks from my local library.  I do have copies coming so that we'll own them.

Lastly, I'm grateful for my siblings.  They've been such a comfort by reassuring me that everything will be okay.  I love that throughout this whole process of finding out that JJ was special needs, they have been extra supportive.  My baby sister is already making plans to come up and give me a day to myself while she babysits.  Y'all already know how much I love her!  She's way more of a second mom to JJ and Moo than an aunt and I appreciate that.  If anything ever happened to me or their dad, I know they will be in great hands with her and my brother.

What are you most thankful for this week?

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Friday, July 24, 2015

4 Easy Steps To Creating "Me Time"

Disclosure:  This post is sponsored by Safeco Insurance.

"Sometimes you just need to disconnect and enjoy your own company"

Folding laundry, cooking dinner, attending PTO meetings, scheduling doctor appointments, sending emails.  For many of us life has become a series of seemingly neverending tasks we complete for others.  Often time completing all of these tasks leaves very little or zero opportunity for us to spending disconnecting or engaging in activities for the sake personal enjoyment.  In a nutshell, me time has become as mystical and non-existent as a unicorn, but that can all change today.  I've partnered with Safeco Insurance to share 4 steps that make creating me time easy and simple.

Why Creating Me Time Is Important

Safeco Insurance recently conducted a survey in which 70% of participants agreed that they needed an extra hour in their day to dedicate towards doing something for themselves.  40% would use that extra "do more hour" for personal hobbies, while 29% would prefer to use their extra sixty minutes for complete alone time and 22% were interested in using that time to step outside of their comfort zones and try something new (a sculpture class, maybe?).  So why is me time important anyway?

Well, 55% of these survey participants admitted to having used negative behavior/actions as a way to cope with their frustration over lack of free time.  Some of these negative actions include increased anger, withdrawing from family and friends and overeating.  I can personally confess that I've experienced all three of these.  Being a mom, wife and working from home is very demanding and when I get overwhelmed because I haven't had my time to unwind and take care of myself, it shows BIG time.  (Check out the infographic below for more info.)

How To Create Me Time

Now that it's been revealed that not carving out enough time for ourselves can have some serious side effects, Safeco has decided to help combat this issue by launching their #MY60 challenge.  They created this challenge to encourage us to purposefully take steps to reclaim 60 minutes of our day over a 60-day period.  Thus we create a "do more/me time hour" in which we can let go let of our stresses by focusing on and participating in activities that make us happier across the board.


Safeco also teamed up with psychotherapist and author (Be Fearless: Change Your Life in 28 Days), Jonathan Alpert.  "The best way to avoid negative behaviors stemming from not having enough time to do it all is to change your thinking about what needs to be done," he notes.  "Carving out an hour in the day of 'me' time is essential to personal happiness."  Alpert has the following steps/tips to offer about how we can take back our 60 minutes of personal time:

1. Change Your Thinking 
"I'm so busy" and "I don't have time for anything" are negative comments that are sure to keep you feeling overwhelmed. Think more along the lines of make good use of the time that you do have or having perspective that you can only do so much in one day and to accomplish what's reasonable for that given day.  Empower yourself to think "can" and "will" instead of "can't" and "have to."

2. Track How You Spend Your Time
Do this for one week.  Many people are entirely unaware of what they do hour to hour and where the day goes.  The simple exercise of noting what you're doing each hour can have a huge impact.  Track your time and know where you're spending it.

3. Determine Which Tasks & Activities Are Vital & Which Are Optional
Structure other tasks around those that are vital.  Schedule your day by doing the important tasks first, using the first 15 minutes of your morning to organize your work area.  This is when you are freshest and energetic.  So often the less important tasks get in the way of other things that need to be done which can be distracting.  It's often easier to do the things that aren't as important, but fear can lead to procrastination and ends up keeping us stagnant.


4. Learn To Say 'No' & Show Up
Now that you've adjusted your attitude, found out where your time was going and have all of your important scheduled, don't contradict your actions by adding more to your plate.  I know that saying 'no' is especially hard moms and women in general.  It's in our nature to be naturally nurturing want to help out when people ask.  However, we have to remember that there can be no 'me' time without the 'me.'  Practicing saying 'no' gracefully and start showing up for yourself!

To learn more about how you can participate in the #MY60 Challenge or find more tips, visit www.safeco.com/MY60.


About the Study
Safeco Insurance commissioned ORC International to conduct a quantitative methodology to measure attitudes towards time management and balancing leisure time with work and essential tasks. During April/May 2015,  a 10-minute online survey was conducted among a nationally representative sample of approximately 2,000 adults aged 21 to 75 within ten major media markets (approximately 200 for each: Boston, NYC, Chicago, Seattle, Dallas, Charlotte, San Francisco, Columbus, Philadelphia, Phoenix).*”Total” reported is an unweighted average of these ten markets.

About Safeco Insurance
In business since 1923 and based in Boston, Mass., Safeco Insurance sells personal automobile, homeowners and specialty products through a network of more than 10,000 independent insurance agencies throughout the United States. Safeco is a Liberty Mutual Insurance company.

Boston-based Liberty Mutual Insurance is a diversified insurer and the third largest property and casualty insurer in the U.S. based on 2013 direct premiums written as reported by the National Association of Insurance Commissioners. Liberty Mutual Insurance also ranks 78th on the Fortune 100 list of largest U.S. corporations, based on 2014 revenue. For more information about Safeco Insurance, go to safeco.com.

How do you make time for yourself? Leave a tip in the comments.

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Thursday, July 23, 2015

Thankful Thursday

"Our prayers may be awkward.  Our attempts may be feeble.  But since the power of prayer is in the One who hears it and not in the one who says it, our prayers do make a difference."

~Max Lucado

Can you believe it's already Thankful Thursday again?!  Now that we have an official start date for Moo's new school, it seems like the rest of Summer Break is flying by.  I'm grateful that Moo is excited about being at a new school.  At first she wasn't thrilled with the idea that she would be a different school than some of her friends from kindergarten, but after a lot of talking and praying she's finally at ease about it.

I'm thankful for the opportunity to be of service to some of my friends and family members.  Growing up in a large family, there was always something to help out with from babysitting to helping my younger siblings tie their shoes.  So, now as an adult being giving comes easy for me.  My husband would say that sometimes I'm too giving/helpful, but it honestly makes me feel great to be a blessing to someone else when I can.

Lastly, I'm thankful for the mommy-daughter time spent in the kitchen with Moo.  Being the mom to a child with Autism is tough.  While I try to divide my attention and affections equally between Moo and JJ, I'm going to be honest and say that JJ generally gets a good chunk more of both.  Moo let me know that she needed a little more time with having me all to herself.  So this week she joined me in the kitchen and we experimented with a meatball recipe and she had a blast.

We got to talk about girl stuff and what other things she would like to do for future mommy-daughter activities.  Her confession of feeling left out was definitely an eye opener and I'm glad that she was able to come to me.  Our jobs as parents is to always make our children feel comfortable having open and honest dialogue with us even if sometimes they need to let us know that we're failing or neglecting something!

What are you grateful for this week?

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Tuesday, July 21, 2015

8 Reasons Why You Should Attend The 2015 YML Self-Care Retreat For Moms

One of the first blogs that I stumbled across after having Moo was TheYoungMommyLife.com.  My daughter was my first baby and I remember feeling overwhelmed, scared and just frustrated because I couldn't seem to find any communities or books related to young motherhood and more specifically moms of color.  And the resources/communities I did find were either out of date or just didn't resonate with me for a variety of reasons.  But then I came across Tara's blog and it felt like I'd finally found a fellow mom/community that I could relate to.

It's years later and I still love and read YML.  Her blog has blossomed and bloomed into a community that has become known as a safe haven for other young moms and moms in general.  I think the greatest thing to come out of stumbling across YML is by far having the opportunity to get know Tara personally.  I definitely consider her to be a good friend, which is why I invited her to drop by the blog and share a bit out her 2015 YML Self-Care Retreat for Moms coming up September 18-20th.  So keep reading to find out what this retreat is all about and why you should be making plans go!

What is the YML Self-Care Retreat + 8 Reasons to Go

TheYoungMommyLife.com is hosting the 2015 Self-Care Retreat, a two-day event for overworked women looking for clarity and relaxation. Join women from around the country as we eat good food, have amazing conversation and hear from self-care experts on how to design a life that's filled with less stress and more joy! Here's an overview of what you'll receive--a weekend planned for women just like you:  
  • Fabulous Friday reception to mingle and sip bubbly with like-minded women ready to unwind
  • FREE 30-minute life coaching sessions all weekend to help you move forward with your goals in confidence (read: less stress when you get home)
  • Get your kinks worked out during FREE massages by licensed massage therapists
  • Delicious breakfast and lunch sessions with empowerment coaches and family life educators
  • Opportunities to shop in a thriving, waterfront setting, only a few miles from the nation's capital (with free transportation to local shops)
  • Ridiculously low hotel rates for an amazingly posh suite (complete with a whirlpool tub!)
  • Cupcakes and champagne pajama party
  • deluxe self-care gift bag with items to help you unwind, relax, refresh....
  • And more!
Only a few tickets remain so get yours today: http://ymlretreat.eventbrite.com/

Seriously, don't miss out on this great event!  Also, follow the #HereWeGrow hashtag and YML on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.  

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Friday, July 17, 2015

Someday Home

Disclosure: This post is sponsored by Faith Words.  I received a complimentary copy of Someday Home to facilitate this review.  All opinions expressed my own.

Deuteronomy 31:8 says, "The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; He will never leave you nor forsake you.  Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged."  However, Lynn Lundberg, Judith Rutherford and Angela Bishop can't but feel forsaken as each of their lives have been turned upside down my tragedy.  Someday Home by Lauraine Snelling tells the story of how together these three women help each other manage grief, start over and renew their faith all while forming a friendship.

The book opens with Lynn, whose life came crashing down almost two years prior when her husband Paul got sick and died out of the blue.  Talk about a major heartache.  I loved that as the reader I got to see Lynn battle not with overcoming her grief, but learning how to manage her grief so that she wasn't constantly reliving the past.  With the family's plumbing business slowing down and not bringing in enough money to support three families (Lynn and her two sons, Philip and Tommy) and being worried that's spending too much time depressed and alone, Philip suggests that Lynn sells her house and moves next door with him and his family- Maggie, his wife, and their three kids (2 boys and 1 girl).

Of course, Lynn will hear of nothing of the sort.  For her the house is not just a home, but her connection to her late husband and the memories they made over the years.  Judith spent much of her life taking care of her ill parents.  Her father promised her that she'd be taken care of when he passed for being such a good daughter and caring for them.  After her father's passing, she realizes that her definition and her father's definition of being "taken care of" weren't the same at all.

Instead of leaving Judith the family's estate to with as she will, her father set up a trust to have the estate turned into a heritage center.  She can't help but feel like her father deceived her.  And while we're talking about deception, can you imagine going out and sitting down to dinner in a fancy restaurant to celebrate your 25th wedding anniversary only to have your husband tell you that he filed for divorce earlier that same day?  Despite doing everything to remain a sense of appeal to her husband, this is exactly what happens to Angela.  She's completely blindsided by her husband's sudden need to find himself.

These ladies all meet after Lynn visits with her doctor who suggests that she look into shared housing as a solution to both financially help her be able to stay in her home and as a way for her find a new form of companionship through friendship.  Stubborn and a bit skeptical, Lynn needs a little push and her kids give her just that when Tommy decides to announce on his Facebook page that his mother is opened to sharing her home with other middle aged women who are at a crossroads in their lives and are seeking an alternative living arrangement.  Thus, the ladies meet and soon a friendship between the three start to blossom.

It's not all rainbows though.  While Judith and Lynn seem to bond the fast, it takes Angela a while to come out of her shell in my opinion.  Lynn also struggles with change and has a bit of a meltdown when her boys help Judith build a chicken coup on the property.  In the end these ladies learn how to work past their differences and become not only friends but a sisterhood.  

This was my first reading a book by Lauraine Snelling and I thoroughly enjoyed it.  Lauraine did a great job of telling all three women's stories and creating characters that readers will become emotionally attached to.  Get your Kleenex or hankies because I did shed a tear or two reading this book.  I also applaud Lauraine for tackling serious issues such as moving on after death and divorce and painting a realistic portrayal of what it's really like.

I enjoyed the sharing living aspect of Someday Home as well because it's a lifestyle that I've grown up seeing since I was a baby.  I have three aunts on my mom's side who all share my grandparents old house.  Their stories are almost ideal to the main characters with one of my aunt's having loss her husband pretty quickly after he was diagnosis with liver disease and another who went through a rough divorce while trying to balance being a new mom and stopping her health from failing after her pregnancy put too much strain on her weak heart.  And my other aunt opted to stay home and become teacher once my grandparents got sick to help take care of them and pay for medical expenses.

Reading Someday Home has really made look at their situations through fresh lenses.  I never really took into consideration how challenging it must be to have three families under one roof.  Sure there have been times when they disagree, but that's what families do.  But now I feel like I have better sense of the amount of compromise and humbleness that it takes to fully embrace shared living. 

Last but not least the main characters' stories have reminded me that at the end of the day God always has a plan for our lives.  We just need to keep our minds and hearts open to allowing His will to be done instead of our own.  No matter how dark the road ahead of gets, He's always with us and will lead us to sunshine again if we allow Him.

About The Author

Lauraine Snelling is the award-winning author of more than 65 novels.  Her books consistently appear on ECPA bestseller lists and have been translated into Norwegian, Danish, and German.  A hallmark of her style is the empathy with which she explores difficult issues in her compelling stories.  Lauraine and her husband, Wayne, live in the Tehachapi Mountains with a bassett named Sir Winston.  

You can order your copy of Someday Home from the following retailers:

Also, don't forget to check out Lauraine's official website for more information about her other works and to stay in the loop about future book releases. 

Would you ever consider shared living? How do you deal with sudden life changes?

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Thursday, July 16, 2015

Thankful Thursday

"For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future."

~ Jeremiah 29:11

I'm so thankful that I put the scripture above on my vision board.  It's a daily reminder that my life is not without direction.  There may be times when I feel clueless, but at the end of the day Jeremiah 29:11 gives me comfort.  God is the captain of this ship called life and I know that He won't ever lead me astray.

That's not to say that I haven't ever strayed from His path because let's be honest our will doesn't always line up with His will.  But I'm grateful that I have learned to be more patience and more obedient.  I'm also thankful this week that my siblings and I have all had some doors opened and prayers answered.  It's been great celebrating everyone's good news via text and our group chat.

I'm so grateful to have my sisters and my brother among my biggest supporters and cheerleaders.  Whenever I need a word of encouragement or I'm doubting myself, they are always there to lift me up.  It is my hope that my kids will be just as supportive and encouraging of each other.

What are you grateful for this week? Let me know in the comments.

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