Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Crockpot Chicken Taco Chili

I love Chili. All kinds.

But this one may be my favorite. Probably because throwing avocado on something solves all of life's problems.

The avocado is optional. But if you don't take that option, then we can't be friends.

I make this on cold winter nights, or hot summer ones. It doesn't matter really. There is never a bad time to eat this.

Crockpot Chicken Taco Chili

2 chicken breasts (you can throw them in frozen!)
1 can diced tomatoes
1 can tomato sauce
2 cups black beans (see recipe below....or you can use canned beans)
1 cup frozen corn
4 tablespoons taco seasoning (my homemade taco seasoning recipe, or one packet if you're using the packets)
1-2 cups of water as needed

- throw everything in the crockpot, cook on low for 6-8 hours.
- about 30 minutes before serving, pull the chicken out and shred, then add back to crockpot.

Top with sour cream and avocado, or any toppings you like!

This recipe is super easy to double. I just double everything except for the chicken and the seasoning. I've found 3 chicken breasts work just fine and about 5-6 tablespoons of seasoning.

Crockpot Black Beans

1 pound dried black beans, soaked overnight and then drained/rinsed in the morning
2 tablespoons taco seasoning
2 cloves of garlic, chopped
1 carton of chicken stock (about 4 cups)
1-2 cups of water as needed

- throw everything in the crockpot! Cook on low for 8 hours. I start without adding any water, and just add it throughout the day if the beans are soaking up too much liquid.
- separate into 2 cup portions in freezer bags, lay flat and freeze.
- thaw or throw in frozen into whatever recipe you want. I use them in chili, or thaw and serve over rice with some avocado (obviously) for a quick and easy lunch.

Friday, January 2, 2015

New Year, New Perspective

I'm not one for the resolutions.

They never work out and I feel like it's just this obligatory thing we do to trick ourselves into thinking this coming year is going to be bigger and better than the last. When really, we don't know what the next year holds and making/keeping our resolutions probably isn't going to change that. That sounded more pessimistic than I intended...

The last resolution post I wrote was for 2012. I think I actually did some of those things, and some I definitely didn't do. It's good to make goals. But it's also good to recognize the stage of life we are in and know our limits. And I think I'm growing in that area. I'm learning my limits and what's important for me right now. So this year is about resolving not to "do" more, but to have a change in perspective, and to accept life for what it is right now.

To Stop Feeling Guilty About Doing Things I Love. I've learned the things that make me feel refreshed and happy, and instead of feeling guilty that I'm not doing something more "productive" like laundry or cleaning or exercising or teaching someone how to properly pick up a playroom, I'm going to let myself curl up with a good book while the girls make a mess with the blocks. I'm going to cook a good meal, full of gluten and dairy and all the things we aren't supposed to eat. Because life is too short. Reading books and cooking meals and wearing jewelry and DIY crafts are things that make me happy. So I'm not going to overthink it.

More Hands-Off Parenting. Have I mentioned before that I'm a control freak? I need to ease up on my girls. Because they really are good kids, and I don't think I'm going to screw them up by letting them get away with things. But I could screw them up by yelling at them and expecting perfection. So instead of resolving to "yell less", which would just result in me continuing to yell and then feeling bad about it, I'm going to resolve to rip out the yelling from the root. To let it slide, and let them be. Let them play and make a mess. Let them ruin their one good pair of shoes because they stomped in the mud puddle. Let them make memories, and let myself be a part of those memories instead of controlling them.

More Hands-On Parenting. More hugs, kisses and snuggles. More reading books piled on the couch together. More carrying babies on hips. More hand holding.

Re-establish Friendships. I recently spent some time with some friends from high school and college. Some of these girls I have known for 18 years, and spending time chatting with them made me realize how important it is for me to have other women speaking into my life. I get so caught up in my own problems that I forget how good I have it. Hearing other people's stories and problems and joys reminded me that life isn't just about me. I haven't been a very good friend this past year. I have some amazing women just a few minutes away from me who deserve better, but still choose to call me friend. This year I want to re-establish those old friendships and better invest in the newer ones.

Stop Trying to Lose Weight. While everyone else on earth is resolving to be skinnier and healthier, I'm going to hang on to those last few pounds of "baby weight". Not because I don't need to lose the weight, but because it doesn't really matter right now if I do. My husband loves me the way I am, and everytime I look down at that belly-pooch, I'm reminded of the gift of pregnancy and childbirth, and those four amazing girls playing at my feet. That belly-pooch worked really hard to grow my babies. And for that, I've decided to let it stay for a while.

Slow Down and Live. Don't worry if Lucy skips a few days of school. Don't try and get them involved in sports yet. Enjoy our quiet evenings and weekends of nothing. Accept that this stage of life is busy enough on its own, and adding activities in will only take away from our time together. To be content with my life the way it is, with all of its imperfections.

Make our House a Home. Whether that means painting and rearranging some things, or not painting and rearranging my attitude instead, I want to create a home that is nurturing and comforting to my family and welcoming to guests. To live in the house we are in and stop waiting for the next thing.

There are other things I hope to do this year, but I'm not going to voice them or write them down in case I don't get to do them. Because this year is about living fully where I am, being thankful for what I already have, and investing in my family instead of things that don't matter.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014


We still have Cora. She's around. You probably wouldn't know it because she ceases to be in any pictures I post. Mainly because she is either sleeping or being held by me, the picture taker.

Proof that our munchkin is growing and thriving and getting fatter by the day....

She is chatty and smiley. She loves her hands (what baby doesn't?) and loves to be held (also, what baby doesn't?). She certainly has her own little personality and is a nice mix of laid back and high maintenance. Which is how things seem to go around here.

Laid Back Qualities:

  • tolerates her sisters hugging, squeezing, squishing, kissing, and holding her
  • content to go anywhere and be dragged along with the rest of the family
  • flexible with her schedule and sleeping
  • can sleep in a pack n play, crib, carseat, or rocker.
  • sits and watches whatever is going on contently in her bouncy seat
  • happy happy and quick to smile

 any guess on which two babies these are?

High Maintenance Qualities:

  • wants to be held, mainly by mama. Occasionally content being held by Lucy if she must be
  • doesn't like to be left without her mama
  • won't take a bottle consistently, or really at all. Again with the mama wanting.
  • doesn't like to be alone, or in a room that is silent. Prefers yelling, sister fighting sounds, or music to be in the background. And someone must be visible at all times
  • strangely enough, is startled by certain loud noises. Obviously children screaming or dogs barking do not fall into this "loud noise" category.
  • still has to be swaddled

Unique Cora Qualities:

  • obsessed with water and taking a bath. Seriously loves it more than anything
  • coos and talks and smiles to anyone who will listen
  • knows peoples voices and has strange preferences over certain people
  • has a little vein in between her eyes just like Lucy and Stella
  • seems to have fairer skin and hair like Annie
  • reminds me the most of Annie as a baby, but people tell me she looks just like Stella

We just adore Cora. While there is no doubt that life with four is difficult and challenging.....I wouldn't have it any other way. I'm so glad the Lord planned our family this way and that He chose Cora to be our fourth. She has fit into this family so perfectly, and as I always say with each child that is added, we can't remember life before her.

p.s. she is actually 4 months old now but I haven't taken her 4 month old picture yet
p.s.s. the picture of the two babies is Stella and Cora. Stella on the left and Cora on the right.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Stella is 2!

Sweet Stella Bella is 2 now.

She opened presents, she ate pumpkin cupcakes, and she enjoyed all the extra love and attention on her birthday.

Stella a few words.... determined, affectionate, hardy....and full of life. She is high-spirited and strong-willed. You can't hurt this girl. But she can hurt you.

She is the cuddliest of all of my kids. Even more so than Cora. She loves to hug, snuggle, and kiss. But only on her terms. If you ask for it, forget about it.

She has a mind of her own. She knows she is a princess. Most of the time, we all concede to Stella. She gets her way far too often.

She is happy to tag along and join in with whatever everyone else is doing. She is clueless most of the time, as to what we are doing or where we are going. But she just jumps in her car seat and comes along for the ride.

She is still a mama's girl at heart. She always has been. No one can make her happy the way mama can.

Surprisingly, Stella has become a very loving and sweet big sister. Honestly, I was most worried about her transitioning into not being the baby anymore. It never worried me with the other girls, but it did with Stella. But she LOVES Cora. Adores her. Wants to kiss her and hold her every chance she can get. She carries her bathroom stool around so she can watch while I feed and change Cora.

And inevitably, this happened the other day...

Lucy and Annie did it too. And I was waiting for it to happen with Stella. She loves her baby doll but she isn't quite as....nurturing...or gentle as the other two girls were at her age. She hits her baby dolls on the head on purpose and slings them around when she gets mad. So I guess it took her a little longer to decide she wanted to breastfeed.

Eventually she made the choice though. She's in.

I can't believe this girl is two. She is my baby and I still treat her like it.

Happy Birthday Stella.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014


Because I know you've been dying to see more pictures of this love muffin...

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Finally a Family Update

My poor, poor neglected blog. It takes a while to put together a blog post, even a crappy one, and I just now have the capacity to attempt one (which means these will probably be crappy). I was so sick towards the end of the pregnancy that I didn't have the energy, and now that baby is here I don't have the time.

But it's a Tuesday morning, Lucy is at school, a precious friend has my two middles, and the baby is asleep. I'm sitting at the kitchen table since we don't have a place for our computer yet, drinking a cup of coffee and realizing how incredibly blessed, and tired, I am. I'm enjoying the quiet and relishing the moment.

Some of these are quite old. From earlier this summer. But I still wanted to post them.

Remember that time I said I would post more pictures of our beach trip? finally happened.

Hilton Head Part 2

Sweet Summertime

I'm so proud of Lucy and all that she has accomplished in the past few weeks

Lucy Lu

And finally, with much anticipation, introducing our newest addition. A girl.

Baby Cora

Monday, August 18, 2014

We had a baby!

So....we had a baby!! Amongst all the moving and birthdays and school starting and just general busyness of being a family of five, we added a new one to the bunch. 

Last picture of these three the morning before the baby was born...

If you remember correctly, this baby's gender was a surprise....but we really weren't THAT surprised when baby was born and the doctor's a GIRL!

Sweet Cora Mae joined our family on August 13th.

She was my biggest baby at 7lbs. 4oz. She made quite an entrance with her screaming and wailing. The surgery for me was very eventful and probably one of the worst things I've ever experienced. There were lots of complications and issues, all of which I am mostly recovered from now....but it was a very difficult first day or two. Fortunately none of my health issues affected Cora. She has been healthy and beautiful from day one.

Everyone was at the hospital to meet Cora, (and let's face it to hear the gender), but they had to wait a very long time because of my issues in surgery. The girls were well past naptime and Stella was borderline a train wreck, so I didn't get the first sibling meeting pictures that I dreamt of but they were excited to see and hold her nonetheless.

We had a handful of names picked out...a few girl and a few boy, but nothing we had decided on concretely. We finally decided for sure on Cora for a first name, which was my great-grandmother's name. We still had a few boy names we were throwing around on the way to the hospital but nothing really felt right. I don't think either of us could commit to a boy name because we expected it to be another girl. Good thing we didn't have our hearts set on a boy name. Cora felt right. The girls loved it and we loved it. We decided on a middle name after she was born. I looked at Mark and said, "Cora Mae??". He said, "Cora Mae." And that was that.

Annie likes to call her by both names. And while I didn't intend on her having a double name, it does flow together well so we'll see what happens.

My oldest and my youngest!!

After everyone met her and went home....hilarious. Being a daddy is hard work.

Beautiful Cora Mae!!

One of my favorites from the hospital. Lucy and daddy just hangin and talking and holding Cora.

Despite the fact that we didn't know the name, let alone the gender of the baby, my friend Carolyn still managed to get us something monogrammed. Leave it to her.

Cora has been sweet from the start. Fairly easy to please and happy to just eat and sleep. I prayed for that. No really I did.

Headed home! Finally!

When we got home everyone had to hold her. Some did better than others.

Sweet baby stretches

Her one week picture...she doesn't have a special stuffed animal yet so just the sign for now. She reminds me a lot of Lucy as a newborn.

Stella had to get in on the action. Giant one week old. 

Cora joining our family has felt so normal and expected. Like she has belonged in our family since the beginning. We are so thankful for another healthy, beautiful girl. We know we are so fortunate and blessed to have this many babies. The Lord has shown favor on us and we are filled with joy.