Monday, February 25

Eat: Meal Plan Monday

We are in our NEW house!!!! I cant believe it! We have been super busy unpacking, cleaning and organizing. It is a lot of work! Ha!
I am so thrilled to be back in the kitchen. To be back on our normal schedule. And back to normal life. Here is our menu line up for the week.

Monday: Papa Murphy's Veggie Pizza (we have life group tonight)
Tuesday: Forks over Knives Minestrone - recipe below -
FOK Minestrone
1 onion, chopped
2 celery stalks, sliced
2 carrots, sliced
1 teaspoon crushed garlic
6 cups vegetable broth
1/2 cup chopped green beans
1 1/2 cups chunked potatoes
1 1/2 cups shredded cabbage
one 14.5 oz can chopped or diced tomatoes
one 8oz can tomato sauce
one 15oz can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
one 15oz can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed (or navy beans)
1/4 cup parsley (or 1 1/2 teas. dried)
1 1/2 teas. basil
freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup uncooked whole wheat or brown rice pasta

Put the onion, celery, carrots, and garlic in a large pot with 1/4 cup of the vegetable broth. Cook over med-high heat, stirring occasionally, for 2-3 mins, until veggies soften slightly.
Add remaining 5 3/4 cups broth, and green beans, potatoes, cabbage, tomatoes, tomato sauce, chickpeas, cannellini bean, parsley, basil, and black pepper to the pot. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat, cover, and cook for 45 mins.
Add the pasta, stir well, and continue to cook for another 15 mins, or until the pasta is tender.
Wednesday: Leftover Minestrone
Thursday: Vegetable Lo Mein - I kinda create my own thing here.
Friday: DATE NIGHT!!!!!!!
Saturday: Tofu Taco Night
For this you need a package of Firm Tofu and your favorite taco seasoning. Scramble up the Tofu in a skillet until finely chopped and sprinkle in Taco Seasoning. You can add a little water if you need to. Cook just like you would Ground Beef. Once cooked slap it in a tortilla and add your favorite taco toppings. Voila. Tofu Tacos. 

Sunday is always our take out and left over day.
I hope your week is filled with much joy, laughter and good food!
Bon Appetite!

Wednesday, February 20

Adoption: Things I've Learned

It is so hard to believe that we have had Emme here in our home for 13 months! From the time we signed on with our agency to the time we stepped off the plane here in Texas with our sweet Emme it totaled a 16 month wait.
Which felt like ETERNITY.
It was a long hard wait for us me. And Yes, I realize that there are families who wait far longer for their children (bio and adopted) but this was my story and my wait and it was hard and long. But so very worth it.
It is true what other adoptive families say about how when you have your child in your arms forever all the pain and tears and 'suffering' you went through to get to that moment seem to flee. They simply vanish from thin air and that period of the 'waiting' process seems like a lifetime ago.
I feel like I have learned a lot about adoption over the last year. I am sure I will learn more and more about it as time goes on. But this last year, with our sweet Emme home, I have learned so much.

I have learned that adoption is not glamorous.
I have learned that it is hard.
I have learned that it is beautiful, pain, exciting, adventurous, challenging and fulfilling.
I have learned that adoption hurts.
I have learned that adoption heals.
I have learned that adoption is a gift.
I have learned that adoption stretches your heart in ways that you didn't know it could be stretched.
I have learned that adoption is not for the faint heart.

During the wait for Emme I dreamed about her like I did the boys when I was pregnant with them. I would sit and wonder what she was like. What she sounded like. What she felt like. What she smelled like. What it would be like for her to be in our house and with us everyday. It is amazing how God can place a love in your heart that runs deep into your bones for a child that you did not carry. For a child that you have not even met yet. A child across an ocean. It is amazing how God transforms your heart when you say yes. You find yourself vulnerable to so many foreign feelings and emotions.
And then that day comes when you pick your child/baby up from the orphanage for the last time and they are forever in your arms. That day for us was not as glamorous as I had imagined for the last 16 months. I had this image in my head of her being excited that we were there to take her home. I imagined her smiling and being happy. I imagined floating out of those gates on a heavenly cloud. (not really but you know....kinda) I  imagined laughter and love not tears and bitterness.
Our gotcha day was quite opposite.

Gotcha Day
Emme was terrified. I am thankful God spoke to me on the ride to her transition house and reminded me that though, this day is very exciting for me, it is one of the most terrifying days of this little girls life. While I was on cloud 9 she was shaking with fear. Fear of the unknown. All she knew was that people who don't look like her, sound like her, dress like her and people she didn't hardly know where coming to take her away from the only comfort she had. My heart broke with compassion for my hurting girl.

Gotcha Day
But oh how the Lord redeemed that all!
He restored her fear and gave her joy. He took her pain and gave her laughter. He took her sorrow and have her peace. Oh how thankful I am that he sees us...big and little...and meets us in those dark places and carries us through.

Two days Later!
On this day I learned that there are two perspectives to adoptions. The parents and the child's. On this day I learned that adoption it tender, sensitive and scary.

During the days/weeks/months following our arrival home I continued to learn new things. Both big and small and some funny.

I learned to not be offended when Emme rejected me after she had been with other people or when other people were around. At first it was hurtful. I wanted to be the only one she loved and needed not everyone else. We did cocoon but still it didn't always help. After a year, she still is weird after a sleepover. I guess that will change after time.

I learned to not be so embarrassed that she has no boundaries. She doesn't understand, still, what is appropriate and what isn't. She has no concept of other peoples personal space. Maybe she will learn as she gets bigger.

I have learned that people say really weird things to adoptive families. Especially international and transracial families. Like...
How much did you pay for her?
Is she your real daughter?
Oh instead of Brangelina your Phillenna!! (This really happened and I about died from laughter)
Are you babysitting?
Asking my boys ... "Oh is she your friend?" Beckham always answers... "No she's  my sister and shes BLACK!" I die.
Why wouldn't you just adopt from here in the US? Why do you feel like you need to adopt from Africa?

I have learned that it is ok to let her hurt. In the first couple of days she would weep in her sleep. She would break out in a Man Sweat, her heart would start racing and she would moan and cry deeply. While dead asleep. All I knew to do was to kneel beside her bed and pray fiercely for fear to leave and for peace to enter.

I have learned to spend good intentional time with her. Encouraging her and babying her. She eats it up and it feeds into her love bank. I am sure she never got much of that.

I learned that adoption comes with a battle that is unseen. One that is hard to describe to people who have never experienced it. We like to call this Spiritual Warfare. It is a war and it rages fiercely and we pray with urgency to over come. It brings weird division. Unsettling emotions. It brings out sin and just plain funk. But all the while it makes us better, stronger and more dependent on the Lord.

After one year Home! Emme is a completely different child then she was when we met her in November 2011. Her face is full of life. Her laughter is filled with joy. She brings up joy and love and adventure. I often watch videos of her from those early days together and I marvel at how radically different she is. That my friends is the power of Christ, love of a family and nurturing from the ones she loves. I learned that adoption is more then just bringing a child, not your own, into your home forever. It is a promise the Lord himself gave to set the lonely in homes. Through adoption we get to be apart of God's bigger agenda. We get to be apart of His promises fulfilled. Adoption is a story of redemption. A story of healing. I am thankful that God has allowed us to be apart of this story.

For this child I did pray and oh how blessed we are to live this beautiful life with her.

Tuesday, February 19


Hi my name is Jenna and I am a Hair Product addict.
I have a slight obsession with hair products.
I love them.
I have several for my own hair that I can't live without. This is now spilled over to hair products and now skin products for Emme.
Emme has GREAT hair. If I had curly hair I would want her. It's tight but not too tight. Its soft and the curls lay so pretty. Since bringing her home I have been a little obsessed with buying and trying new things. I think I have now found my favorite. While I love the Kinky Kurls products I feel like it leaves her hair looking too polished and not as natural as I would like. I LOVE the natural look and feel.
So I would like to introduce you to...
My friend and fellow blogger/adoptive momma (who is a superhero and has 12 kids!!!) created this line for her own baby cakes and now sells it in her online shop. I have been wanting to try this stuff since I first 'met' Chrissy but I kept 'forgetting'.
 Man how I wish I had of ordered this stuff sooner.
I ordered my first jar a couple of weeks ago. I have been using on Emme everyday since receiving it in the mail and now... I cannot live without it. Seriously.
Not only does it feel great and make her hair look oh so pretty, it leaves my hands feeling super soft and it smells so good. Also, the lip butter. Oh my! You should definitely get ya some of this. To learn more about this product and what it is made from and how is started go here. 

If you would like more info on this product please please visit Chrissy's online shop and while you are at it visit her blog. I just ordered 2 more jars of the {babycakes} Hair and Body Butter today. Seriously. You wont regret it. 

Monday, February 18

Eat: Meal Plan Monday: Guest Post

Trying to keep up with Meal Plan Monday has proved to be quite the challenge during this season of transition for my family. We are not in our own home yet and so therefore not in my own kitchen. I thought it would be easier to have a Guest Blogger post for me instead this week.
I found Holly's blog one day while searching for new recipes for my family. I instantly fell in love with her blog and I have tried several of her recipes and they are AMAZING! So without further adieu I would like to introduce to you my new friend Holly.
Who blogs over at  My Plant Based Family.
She is a woman after my own heart.

When Jenna asked me to guest post I was honored. She is fabulous and I could see us hanging out and bragging about our kids while they make a huge mess just out of sight.
We first transitioned to a plant-based diet in October 2011. I had been suffering with chronic bladder problems without any hope for healing for quite some time. You can read more about that here but I will say that since going plant-based my husband and I have both lost weight and we feel much better. We no longer require any medication and my bladder problems are gone. We are convinced that eating a whole food, plant-based diet will allow us to honor God and be good stewards of the bodies He gave us.
I usually post a weekly meal and focus on feeding my family nutritious, whole food that isn’t too expensive. We spend between $50 and $100 a week for a family of four. My 2 year old has a peanut allergy and a gluten allergy. I stock up on sale items and buy some things, like gluten-free flours and nuts in bulk. Real food is a wise investment that will save countless dollars down the road. We save money by eating lots of beans, whole grains, and seasonal produce.

Meal Plan
Breakfast is usually oatmeal with a generous topping of walnuts, ground flax or chia seeds, cinnamon and fresh or dried fruit. If I’m in a hurry I may have toast with almond butter and sliced apples.  My husband will often take a baked sweet potato to work for breakfast.

Lunch is usually leftovers or something quick and easy. My kids like sandwiches with almond butter and apple butter with a side of fruit, they love apples. Baked Sweet Potatoes are easy, my boys have been begging for them lately. I LOVE to eat pita’s stuffed with veggies like spinach, bell pepper slices, onions, tomatoes, carrots and hummus. It is much more fun than eating the same veggies in a salad. I also love mixing and matching leftover beans, grains, and veggies to create a unique lunch based on what I have available. My husband takes his lunch to work and will take leftovers along with raw spinach, broccoli, and carrots.

Snack at our house is usually fruit. I’ll also leave thinly sliced raw veggies on the table with hummus, my kids can’t resist a dip. Sometimes we will have green smoothies made with spinach, bananas and berries. Sometimes we will have chips and salsa with guacamole.

Dinner is my biggest investment both in time and money. Of course we eat dinner leftovers for lunch most days. This week I’m hosting a Healthy Cravings group at my house. Healthy Cravings is a group for women where they can learn about a plant-based diet while enjoying lots of great food. This month’s theme is Italian food so I’ll be making a lot of extra food on Thursday to accommodate about a dozen ladies.

Monday: Easy Mexican Casserole with salsa and guacamole
Tuesday: Very Vegan Chili, this chili is Texas Style and taste great on a baked potato or with corn bread.
Wednesday: Minestrone Soup
Thursday (Healthy Cravings Meeting): Bruschetta, Minestrone Soup, Salad, Plant-Based Lasagna, Baked Mac & Faux Cheese, Fettuccine Alfredo (I’ll adapt it to make it gluten-free), and dessert.
Friday: Leftovers
I don’t plan our weekend meals because we focus on leftovers and using up produce that needs to be eaten.

Writing out a meal plan is a great way to save money and be intentional about making healthy choices. Often we plan our meals around seasonal produce. We look at the ads and plan our list. For example when avocados are .50 each I’ll buy several, when they are $1.99 each I don’t purchase them. Likewise with red bell peppers, when they are 3 for $1 I’ll buy them but not when they are over $1. Some items like carrots, broccoli, and potatoes don’t vary much in price throughout the year so we can depend on them to be available at a reasonable price.
I hope you enjoyed this meal plan. 
You can find more at My Plant-Based Family 

Friday, February 8

Five Fun Facts

Why not?
Why not have a Five Fun Facts Friday.
I am all outta whack with my little blog land these days. I mean I guess going through a what wasn't supposed to be a big remodel but kinda seems like its turning out to be a big remodel and living with your father-in-law (we are entering week 3) while also part-time homeschooling without all of our normal daily supplies and just stuff, kinda gets to ya after awhile.
I'm ready to be in my own house. To have all my things back in order. To not have to run 5 million errands. To have dresser drawers to put my clothes in instead of laundry baskets and boxes. I'm ready for my kids to not be sharing a queen size air-mattress and sleeping in sleeping bags. I'm just ready for some normal in my life. I know it will be worth it. Many well meaning friends have reminded me of that. Your words are kind. But it's ok to say "yeah that sucks!" Sometimes it better to be sympathized with and not reminded of how worth it, it will be.

So despite all my Debbie Downer-ness I thought to get outta my funk of share some fun random facts about myself with you.

1) I hate when my bones touch other people's bones. It sicks me out. Not like finger bones more like shin bones or knee bones or wrist bones. Any hard or knobby bone really. It makes me shudder thinking about it! Phillip loves to torture me at night by rubbing his shin against mine. It's horrible.

2) I secretly love to like icing off of a spoon. This is a terrible habit that my lovely sisters have taught me. Growing up I HATED sweets. Unless it was apple or pumpkin pie. Now I get major cravings for sweets. Like icing. I never finish a jar. When the craving starts I just buy one jar! Open the seal, stick a spoon in and slowly devour it and chunk the rest. One spoonful does the trick. Until next time.

3) I am a major procrastinator! I always wait until the last minute to do anything. Although I am a planner at the same time. I plan things out. Every detail. But I wait until the very last hour to execute those plans. It's a horrible and frantic way to live I don't recommend it. But rest assured, if I have only a day or two to complete something, you will get my best work! I work better under pressure.

4) I have a freckle on the palm of my hand that every nail tech and each of my kids thinks is dirt. They all try to scratch it off until they realize that "oh that's really on there." There's one on my toe just like it too. I giggle every time.

5) I am the oldest of my sisters. Though, the one in the middle has always bossed me like she's my momma. Always. But I love her and need her tough love in my life. My youngest sister shared a bed with me until I got married. I love her. She is weird and quirky like me.

So there ya have it. Five Fun Facts about me on this lovely Friday.

Friday, February 1

Share the Love

I am so thrilled to be partnering with my new friend Lyndsay of Pink Coffee Photo and 13 other lovely ladies for Share the Love 2013. Lyndsay had a wonderful idea about how we could Share the Love this month. Since well...It is the month of LOVE.
Here's how it works.
Starting today, February 1 and ending on February 14 (LOVE day), we are going to be...
Sharing the Love.
Wondering what that means? Let me tell you.

Share the Love simple means...
Loving those around you.
Your family, your friends, your neighbors, your pastors, your co-workers, your classmates, your children's teachers, total strangers....
You get the picture right?

Basically we are setting aside 14 days in the month of February to be intentional about loving those God has put around us. We are dedicating these 14 days to being intentional about meeting the needs of others, doing random acts of kindness and surprising those in your life with, well... LOVE.

There are few things more gratifying then simply Loving and Serving others. It fulfills something deep in my heart.
As believers we are called to love. I feel like this is why when we go out of our way to Share the Love and love people with our words, time and gifts it feels so gratifying. We are acting in obedience to the call to LOVE.

I am really excited about this challenge. This last year the kids and I did something similar during the month of December with our Christmas Angel. You can read some of those posts here + here . (I posted more in my IG feed) I always love and appreciate the opportunity to teach my children how to love.
How to genuinely love and how to be intentional about recognizing the needs of others around them.

I am praying that this will become more of a habit for my family and not a seasonal challenge. I am praying that with these baby-steps we will learn to be mini Christ's in this world. Living a life of servanthood and LOVE.

My personal goal is to do ONE act of love EVERY day until Valentines day.
Some of my ideas include:

  • Baking yummy treats for friends
  • Sending the kids to school with little gifts for their teachers
  • Leaving a little gift for our mail person
  • Paying for someone's coffee or food in a drive thru
  • Loving my husband 
  • Loving my children
  • Sending something to my sisters

Those are just a few. Another FUN detail about this challenge is that you DON'T have to be a blogger to be apart of this FUN Share the Love challenge.
If you have a Twitter, Facebook and/or Instagram you can join in on the Share the Love fun and use #sharethelove2013 hashtag to share you photos with everyone else doing the challenge.

Can you imagine what it will be like for us all to join in and begin to be intentional about Loving those around us? What would your community look like? What stories would you have or hear?

So here's the deal. Follow me and my other girl friends on their blogs, twitter and IG feeds to see their acts of kindness in their community and share yours with us. And let's meet back here on the 14th, the Day of Love, to hear and share our 'Share the Love' stories.

Are you excited? Are you ready?
Remember to use #sharethelove2013 and remember to HAVE FUN LOVING!!!!

Go Share the Love.