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Monday, September 23, 2013

Dear Garrison (Happy 8th Birthday)

Dear Garrison,

The moment I found out I was pregnant with you my life changed for the better.  I am better because of you.  You made me grow up.  You made me rely on Jesus a lot more.  You made me want to put others first.  You are the one who made me understand how much Jesus loves me.  One day you will have a son or daughter of your own and you won't be able to imagine a love greater than that.  But there is - God's love for us is so much bigger than we can imagine and I can't wait for you to fully understand that and share it with the world!

I love what an incredible big brother you are to Ethan. 


 

I love how funny you are. 




You are an awesome baseball player and you have a great team!  I can't wait to watch you play and excel over the next several years.




I love that you still want to cuddle with me.  I love that you still call me "Mommy" in front of your friends.  I love that you give me out of nowhere hugs and "I love you's".  As much as I want you to stay little forever I know that God has so much planned for you in this life.  I pray for you to grow into a man who is not afraid to stand up for Jesus.  I pray for you to clearly know right from wrong.  I pray that you will recognize mistakes you make, ask for forgiveness and learn from those experiences.  I pray that you will find a good woman who will love you and be honored to stand alongside you in this life.  I pray that she will be a compassionate and nurturing mother to your children.  You are going to make a very lucky lady so happy one day.  It will be so hard letting you go but I know that it is necessary to let you grow and change this world for the better.

I love you more than I could ever express.  You have changed mine and your daddy's lives forever and we are so incredibly proud of the boy you have become.  We are always here for you and can't wait to see where life takes you.




 

 
 



Kindergarten
 
1st Grade
 
2nd Grade







"Let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven." ~Matthew 5:16


I love you!

Mommy


Thursday, September 19, 2013

Live Like That and New Recipes ~ Chicken with Mushrooms in Garlic White Wine Sauce and Healthy Alfredo Sauce

I keep hearing the song, "Live Like That" by Sidewalk Prophets on the radio and I really love it.  I hope y'all like it too!




I have two new recipes to share with y'all.  Both are quick, easy and healthy.

Chicken with Mushrooms in Garlic White Wine Sauce
*SkinnyTaste recipe
Old Points: 4 pts • Points+: 6 pts
Calories: 169 • Fat: 5.5 g • Protein: 22.8 g • Carb: 4.9 g • Fiber: 1.2 g Sugar: 1.7 g

Ingredients:
  • 8 chicken tenderloins or about 3 large chicken breasts, 16 oz total
  • 2 tsp butter
  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • 1/4 cup all purpose flour* (use rice flour if gluten free)
  • 3-4 cloves garlic, minced  (I used 3 T and thought it was a little too much so I would suggest 2 cloves/2T of minced garlic)
  • 12 oz sliced mushrooms
  • 1/4 cup white wine
  • 1/3 cup fat free chicken broth
  • salt and fresh pepper to taste
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley

Directions:

Preheat oven to 200°. Season chicken with salt and pepper. Lightly dredge in flour.

Heat a large skillet on medium heat; when hot add 1 tsp butter and 1 tsp olive oil. Add chicken to the skillet and cook on medium heat for about 5 minutes on each side, or until chicken is no longer pink. Set aside in a warm oven.

Add additional oil and butter to the skillet, then garlic and cook a few seconds; add mushrooms, salt and pepper stirring occasionally until golden, about 5 minutes.

Add wine, chicken broth, parsley; stir the pan with a wooden spoon breaking up any brown bits from the bottom of the pan. Cook a few more minutes or until the liquid reduces by half. Top the chicken with the mushroom sauce and serve.


She suggested serving it over brown rice which I think now might have absorbed some of the minced garlic better.  I served with new potatoes and asparagus.




Healthy Alfredo Sauce
*Campbells Kitchen recipe

If I'm being honest nothing (and I mean nothing) compares to the full fat, made with heavy whipping cream, Alfredo sauce you find at a good Italian restaurant.  But when you're craving pasta with Alfredo sauce this is one of the healthier ways to make it at home.

The below recipe is served over linguine.  I served it over whole wheat penne pasta because it's all I had.  Either way, I would suggest going with a whole wheat pasta to cut the calories.  The only thing we didn't like about this sauce is that it was slightly bland.  I think next time I will substitute the garlic powder with garlic salt.

I topped the pasta with Cajun chicken (so easy).  All you do is season thawed chicken breasts with Tony's seasoning and bake at 375 for about 30 minutes (flipping halfway through). 

**Cooking Tip - Always, always, always trim the fat off chicken before cooking.  Nothing is worse than taking a bite of chicken with fat on it.**

Ingredients:
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 (14 ounce) can Swanson® Chicken
Broth
1/3 cup plain yogurt
6 cups hot cooked linguine, cooked
without salt
6 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
Chopped fresh parsley


Directions:
1.Mix flour, garlic powder and pepper in saucepan. Stir in broth until smooth. Cook and stir until mixture boils and thickens. Remove from heat.
2.Stir in yogurt. Toss with pasta and 4 tablespoons cheese. Sprinkle with parsley and remaining cheese.






~Jewels*

 

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

I Have Learned... (for moms)

Yes, another mommyhood post.  Not sure why but I have been having lots of realizations in my role as a mom lately.  Here are a few things I have learned on my journey of being a mom thus far and wanted to share them for those that are interested.


Don't Compare  - It is so easy to compare ourselves to others, especially in our roles as moms.  This has been a common theme among blogs I have been reading lately.  I will keep this short and sweet.  God made you who you are.  He made you with particular gifts that you can use in all of your roles of life, including parenthood.  Use them and stop comparing yourself to other moms.


Relax - Your children (whether newborns or 15 years old) can sense it when you are stressed.  No matter what kind of front you put on they know you and they feel it.  Relax and try and not to let everything in life stress you out.  And there is nothing wrong with a little adult beverage (GASP!) on a school night to help you wind down (in my personal opinion).


Laugh  - Laugh with your husband.  Laugh with your kids.  (Trust me, your kids will remember both of the first two.)  And my personal favorite - laugh at yourself.  Yesterday we were running around getting ready for Garrison's game.  Ethan got into the toilet (not once, but twice) and anything else he could find.  Garrett sat around until the last minute which made me so nervous we were going to be late.  Garrison put his baseball pants on before his underwear (for the thousandth time).  I was trying to get bottled waters out of the fridge and one fell smack on the top of my foot.  I sat there for a second and thought to myself,  I could cry right now or I could laugh.  I chose the latter.  Who cares that all three boys looked at me like I was crazy.  It made the situation better.




Let It Go - You have to learn to let some things go when you become a mom.  The laundry may not always get done.  The floor may not always be vacuumed.  The house may not always be clean.  It's okay.  Let it go.  That being said, the next one has been super helpful for me.



Be Organized/Prepared - This may not be the case for everyone but I find that when I am as organized and prepared as possible it makes my life run a lot smoother.  I don't mean make sure your closet and cleaning supplies are organized.  I mean to organize yourself as a mom so you don't feel like a chicken running around with its head cut off (which let's be real, is sometimes completely unavoidable).  Some examples: Make lunches the night before.  If you work, pick your clothes out the night before.  Make sure your kids' backpacks are ready to go for the next morning.  Stick to a week night routine as much as possible.  Keep a calendar.  Use your phone to set reminders for yourself.



Take Advice - I know sometimes it is hard to take advice from others because it makes us feel weak or inadequate.  That is so far from the truth.  Be sure to take advice from moms you admire and look up to.  And keep in mind to not compare yourself to others in this process.  If you are a full time single working mom who has three older kids, all in sports, the best person to get advice from may not be the stay at home mom who home schools one young child and has a husband who does half the housework.  Be realistic with the advice you take.
 
This is not a bad thing...
 


Own It - God entrusted you with this child/these children.  Whether you were raised by awesome parents or parents who made huge mistakes you have learned from your childhood and have an idea of what kind of parent you want to be.  You are strong.  You are worthy.  You are adequate.  Own your role as a mom.  Have confidence and take pride in that role.  You have been given a gift and a responsibility of raising a child to make this world a better place.  Believe that and own it...even when you feel like you're having one of these days!



Pray, Pray, Pray - Ask God daily to help you in your role as a mom.  Pray over your kids.  Pray for your kids futures (including their future spouse/family).  Pray for God to be at the center of your family.  I find myself praying daily for patience and wisdom with my kids.


These are just some things I have learned along the way and I hope you find them helpful.  Keep up the awesome work, Mamas!

~Jewels*

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Breakthrough and Bath Time Fun (Updated Videos)

Attention, Attention!  I have finally had a breakthrough with my strong willed sweet boy, Ethan!  I seriously never thought this little guy would listen to me.  All of the hand pops (which didn't really work for him) and time outs seemed to be useless.  But this is proof that consistency pays off.!  All you moms out there who feel like giving up...don't!  Consistency seriously works!


The pre-kids Juliana would have celebrated things like a bonus or promotion at work.  The post-kids Juliana celebrates things like finally seeing poop in a diaper after days of constipation or FINALLY, FINALLY having my almost 2 year old listen to me.  The only thing that hasn't changed is how I celebrate.  Post-kids Juliana still celebrates success with a glass of wine!

Here is another cute video of Ethan from last night.  Garrison was talking/singing to him from the shower and had him dancing a little jig.  I love that these boys can make each other laugh and I hope that never changes.



~Jewels*

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Being a Mom (the not so fun part)

If we're all honest with ourselves being a mom isn't always sunshine and roses. 

As a mom of a newborn/infant you have to learn how to function on 2 hours of sleep.  (The women that tell you they love the newborn stage are probably still suffering from a hormonal imbalance.) 


As a mom of a one to two year old you have to dig WAY down deep to find patience.  You go from caring what others think about you and your parenting to quite frankly not giving a damn because sometimes you just can't control a tantrum throwing toddler in the middle of the grocery store. 

As a mom of a two to three year old you start to have a little more confidence in your role as a mom.  You realize that YOU (and not the tantrum throwing toddler that you were starting to think might be bipolar) are in control.  You put on your big girl panties (hopefully you are out of the granny panties by now) and realize that consistency, discipline and routine are your best friends.

As a mom of a four to six year old you have to master the silent across the room look - for the time(s) when your kid starts acting a fool and you can't get to him in time.  You also have to learn how to deal with hearing "Mom" twenty times in a row from your kid.  I'm not a Family Guy fan but the recent Hulu commercial had me dying laughing (watch it below).  Unfortunately, I had the same response to Garrison far too often before learning how to deal with this.

 

As a mom of a seven to eight year old you have to learn to not be embarrassed by things that may have had you turning bright red a few years back - such as when your kid pulls his cup out of his baseball underwear in a public bathroom and brings it to you in a restaurant.  Or when your shoe makes a noise when picking your kid up from school and he asks you (in a yelling voice) if you just farted.

I have not experienced life as a mom past the age of eight but I'm sure there are many more learning moments ahead of me.  I'm sure there will be more hard times and many more mistakes made on my part. 

Being a mom affects everything in your life.  It has taken me a long time to understand that I can't  please everyone.  I constantly remind myself that my priorities are God, husband, kids and then everything else.  The hardest part of the "everything else" is extended family and friends (including girl time).  I have learned to not feel guilty about turning down girls' night invitations.  I have learned to not feel guilty about not always being able to please everyone around me.  Trust me, this is really hard for someone who does not like conflict.

The good parts of motherhood FAR outweigh the bad.  I'm just trying to keep it real today and share the not so fun parts of being a mom.  It's all about learning as we go and doing the best we can!  So, keep up the hard good work y'all!






~Jewels*

Friday, September 6, 2013

Crockpot White Chicken Chili

I have another successful Pinterest recipe for y'all.  And I know you busy Mamas will love it since the crock pot does most of the work.  By the way whoever says they can't wait until fall/winter so they can pull out the crockpot is crazy!  Chili and soups are just as good in the summer... even in Texas where we are on our 28th straight day of triple digits.  Ugh.

Moving right along... all four of us liked this recipe.  And that says a lot when you are talking about a toddler, a sometimes picky almost 8 year old and a husband who is pickier than my oldest son.  As I type I am eating the leftover chili and my toddler is repeating, "Bite, Bite, Bite" wanting some of mine (even though he just had a bowl for lunch). 

Crockpot White Chicken Chili

Ingredients
Chili:
1 1/2  lbs uncooked chicken breast (can be frozen) cut into 1-2″ chunks
2 – 15 oz cans of white beans (drained)
1 – 15 oz can of white corn (drained)
1 onion chopped
1 clove garlic finely chopped (or 1-2 Tablespoons minced garlic from the jar)
1 package taco seasoning
1 – 7 oz can of chopped green chilies
1 can cream of chicken soup
1 – 14 oz can of chicken broth

Toppings:
Sour cream (I used fat free) - 1-2 T per serving
2 tbls lime juice (I left this out because quite frankly I forgot)
 Finely chopped cilantro (I left this out because I didn't have any)
Fresh shredded cheese (I used reduced fat Mexican cheese)
Corn tortilla chips

Directions
Place cut up chicken in the bottom of the Crock Pot.  Add beans, corn and onion.  Mix the next four ingredients and pour over the top.  

Cover and cook on low in the Crock Pot for 8-10 hours.  (I was running low on time so I cooked mine on high for about 3 1/2 hours).

Before serving use a potato masher to break up the chicken.  (Make sure you do this very quickly with pressure and alternating directions… the consistency should change from brothy with chunks of meat and beans to a very thick and even consistency.  If it is still brothy, keep mashing).
*I didn't have a potato masher so I just did the best I could.  It was probably more of a stew than a chili but it was still good.*

Add shredded cheese, a dollop of sour cream, a splash of lime juice, cilantro and chips before serving
 *Recipe and photo from Design Wine Dine blog.



 
~Jewels*

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Skinny Mexican Chicken Enchilada Casserole and Updated Pics

I made this new recipe last night from Skinny Taste.  Garrison and I loved it but Garrett was not a fan at all.  So take what you will from that.  It is easy though and the fact that you can eat 1/6 of it for 8 weight watchers points (plus) is pretty darn good!

Ingredients:
• 1.5 lbs chicken – cooked and chopped or shredded
• 1 can enchilada sauce
• 1/2 can corn
• 1/2 can black beans – rinsed
• 1/2 cup chopped onions
• 4 Lo-Carb Tortillas
• 1.5 cups shredded cheese

Directions:

Pour a thin layer of enchilada sauce in the bottom of a baking dish – top with two tortillas – and then another thin layer of enchilada sauce. Use a spoon to make sure all of each tortilla is coated with sauce.

Evenly distribute your cooked chicken on top of the tortillas.

Mix together beans, corn, and onion.

Spread the bean mixture over the chicken layer.

Layer 3/4 cup of cheese on top of chicken and beans.

Top with two more tortillas, and another layer of enchilada sauce.

Bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes. 

Add remaining cheese and bake for another 5 minutes or so until cheese is melted.


My picture
 
Here is the much prettier picture from Skinny Taste.
 


I wanted to share some updated pictures from Instagram for those of you who do not follow me on there.  My user name is julianagthomas if you are interested.




It makes me so happy to see him using his imagination and toys to play rather than always wanting to watch TV or play his DS.  
 
Ethan kept going into Garrison's room last night so Garrison set Ethan up in a laundry  basket with toys and a flash light.  Ethan's response?  "Oh, Cool!"  Yep, this is his new favorite saying along with, "Aww man".

I'm pretty sure it doesn't get much sweeter than this folks.
 
Or this...just some morning conversation this past weekend.
 
Ya' know...Garrison and I just being Gangstas!
 
 
 I am loving my new custom baseball mom shirt I got on Etsy.  Can't wait to wear it this fall. 
Go Cubs!

~Jewels*


Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Losing

This song, "Losing" by Tenth Avenue North, is from 2010 but I'm just now hearing it and it is my new favorite song.  My favorite part is the bridge (around the 2:15 mark).


This song speaks to me in so many ways.  I feel like I get so caught up in being right all the time.  When I feel like I'm living my life for God and doing the right things I struggle dealing with people in the world who aren't.  I get so angry seeing the violence, the senselessness, the lack of respect and disregard for human life, the way that evil and sin become justified in this modern world.  I get so caught up in hating all of these things (and unfortunately the people that go with these things) that I end up losing and being in the wrong. 

I have written before about learning to hate the sin and love the sinner.  I have written about how forgiving others sets us free (even when they aren't sorry).  I have written about how loving someone does not mean you are condoning their behavior.  This has been such a learning process for me.  I have to constantly remind myself that God gives me grace and forgives me for my wrongdoings so why is it sometimes so hard for me to have grace and forgive others for theirs? 

This is love, this is hate...
We all have a choice to make

We do all have a choice.  We can choose to hate those that do wrong to us or love them, forgive them, free ourselves from it and move on.

'Cause Lord it doesn't feel right
For me to turn a blind eye

Though I guess it's not that much
When I think of what You've done.

Even when we feel like turning a blind eye (which can feel like condoning someone's actions) doesn't feel right we have to realize that it is nothing compared to what Jesus did for us and still does for us.  His grace and mercy have no limit for me and my sins so why should my grace toward someone else have limits?

I am slowly but surely getting to the point where I feel like I can love the unlovable and forgive the unforgivable.  I can love like He loves me.  That is what He wants us to do and I can see why.  When I love the unlovable and accept someone for who they are and where they are in their life I feel an incredible sense of freedom and peace.  Harboring anger, hurt and bitterness destroys not only me but everyone around me.  It is like putting poison into my environment. 

I will continue to pray:
Oh, Father, give me grace to forgive them
'Cause I feel like the one losin'



~Jewels*