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New Dinner Favorites

At the beginning of the year, Jason and I completed a 21 day sugar detox ( http://balancedbites.com/21dsd ). This detox was more than just eliminating sugar, but eliminating anything sweet. We were only allowed a choice of a ripe banana, green apple, or grapefruit a day. On top of that, it was very strict paleo with no bread or dairy and only certain veggies, fruits, and nuts. Through this 21 days, we found some great recipes that helped us stay on this detox track. We still incorporate many of the recipes we discovered. Today, I want to share three of our family favorite dinner recipes with you.

  • Chili – We modify the recipe by using bison and/or venison instead of beef and also add additional spices such as Tony’s, onion powder, and garlic powder. What I love about this recipe is that it makes plenty, so if friends are coming over, you need leftovers, or love to freeze meals, this recipe is the way to go.

Chili

  • Slow Cooker Chicken Curry – We have used green curry only, but plan to venture out to the red curry as we always add cayenne and Tony’s to the recipe. What I love about this recipe is that it is so simple to prep and throw in the crockpot, leave it and then eat it.

Chicken Curry

  • Shepherd’s Pie – This is the best paleo comfort food I have found. Again, we use bison instead of beef and add our favorite seasonings. Even Liam and Nixon love this dish. FYI – there is some prep to it, but overall very easy.  And this dish rarely has any leftovers. 🙂

IMG_1840

Cooking Tip – I prep all my food during the day when Nixon is taking a nap. This way, I have more time with the kids when they are awake and I am not spending all my time in the kitchen when Jason gets home. Around 5:30-6:00 I start cooking and do my best to have it ready around 30 minutes after Jason gets home. If you are busy during the day, with no time to prep, try prepping your food the night before, especially if you are using many of the same ingredients in several dishes that week.

If you have any cooking tips, please share. Also, I would love to hear how you like any of the above recipes. Have fun in the kitchen, add some new flavors, and always be willing to try out some new meals during the week.

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From the Office to Home

When we moved to Dallas I went from working full-time to being a full-time stay at home mom.  I went from working from 9 until 5:30, navigating childcare, meetings, family time, etc. to being family time 100%.  Has it been hard? Definitely. Do I want to go back to work? Sometimes. But in my heart, home is where I need to be and desire to be most. I know God has me at home during this season for a purpose and that purpose is not only for me to invest in the boys, but also for God to invest in me. With my time at home, I have learned so much that I want to share through a little Q and A.

What has been the hardest transition from working to staying at home?

For me, it was redefining my identity. All my life I have always been in the business of accomplishment, completing tasks, and doing. I realized that I had wrapped a lot of my identity in what I did and not who I was. Being at home has helped me gain a healthy perspective of my identity by wrapping myself in who I am by how God defines me. My identity is not found in what I do, whether it is work, wifehood, or motherhood, but who I am per God.

What has been the best part of being at home?

I am not usually someone to have just one reason. I am a “d. all of the above” kind of person. So here are some of my best reasons…

  • My kids – I have the opportunity to watch them grow, learn and experience new things.
  • Organization – For so long I was juggling so many things that I did not have the time to “be on top” of things at home and now I have that time.
  • Availability – I have the opportunity to be available for my husband, family and friends.
  • Food – Could not leave out food. LOL. I love having the time to plan and prepare food for our family and friends.

What are some lessons learned from the transition?

  1. God isn’t not done with you yet – Staying at home has revealed so much in me that God is still working on, especially patience and self-control. J When you think you have climbed up and conquered that “mountain”, another one appears and you start the climb again. Be encouraged when this happens. God is in the business of making us more like Him everyday and He does this with every mountain.
  2. Take time to be with your kids whether working or staying at home – We can all become busy and tired no matter where you are or what you are doing in life. When working, I wish I had been more present with my kids when I came home. I would go through the motions of cooking, bath-time, and bedtime and lost moments of being with them. And now, I can easily get busy with “to dos” at home and find myself in the same place. If you are working or at home, I want to encourage you to set time to be present with your kids. One of my tricks is putting my phone on the counter and sitting on the floor. Your kids will pile on you bringing you books, toys or simply sitting with you. Mine absolutely love this and I love it, too.
  3. Learn to dance – This has been my motto for many years and even more now that I am home. When feeling overwhelmed or like the kids have taken crazy pills, I turn on some tunes and we dance. Something about it makes everyone smile and forget the moment. We have fun, we laugh and we move on.
  4. “You” time is okay – For so long I have felt that taking time for me was selfish or I felt like I was abandoning my family, but oh how I have learned that it is so necessary. For me it is a time of refueling, refocusing and regaining composure. Bottom line is we are actually better for our families if we take this time. Your family deserves the best you and for me, I am at my best when I can take some time…it is more than okay, it is necessary.

Confession Session:

  1. I am guilty of still checking my emails multiple times throughout the day.
  2. Seeing a blank calendar is no fun, so I fill it with mom appointments, which are definitely important and need to be remembered.
  3. Grocery shopping might have become my favorite outing and I use it as a learning time for the kids.
  4. I have renamed stay-at-home mom to personal home chef as the kids now think they are hungry every 30 minutes.
  5. Staying at home may be harder than working, but it is more than worth it and I am so honored and thankful for the opportunity.

If you have any questions or some lessons learned, let’s talk (see comments).


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Sixteen Weeks

Yesterday, I was curious at how long it had been since we officially moved to the Dallas/Fort Worth area. So of course, I went to Instagram and Facebook to figure out the date. (Social media always has the answers. Lol.) There I saw the picture below dated October 17, 2013. It has only been four months that we have called Dallas our home; I cannot believe it. It feels like we have lived here for years and I say that in a very good way. Being here has felt right and the welcome here has helped make this place become home. Yes, the road had some bumps when making our way here with selling the house in Baton Rouge, finding a place to live here, and transitions for all of us. Jason transitioning to a new job ata new church, Liam meeting new friends and a new school, Nixon simply adjusting to a new environment, and myself, who has worked since I was sixteen years old to now being a stay-at-home mom. But as most of us know, all steps of faith face tests. However, even with all of the tests, bumps and transitions, I can say that these four months have been really good.

16 weeks

I remember the day that we made the decision to make the move. Like most girls do in big moments like this, I had one of my best girlfriends meet me so I could get herthoughts and opinions. Her exact words when I told her were, “This is so wonderful Jen. Life is an adventure and this is part of yours.” She made a statement that began to change the way I looked at transition, opportunity, change and different seasons and chapters. The idea of adventure has now become my every hashtag, phrase and blog!

I also came across one of my journal entries during this move process. I read this, “God has been trying to reveal to me what truly trusting Him means. He desires for me to release whatever circumstance, worry or need I have and as I release, I will be able to rest. Rest in His peace and presence.” It is all coming together for me. This is the how I can fully enjoy (in joy) the adventure. Its more than just realizing that life is an adventure; it is how you make it through the adventure. It comes down to truly trusting God, the process of learning to release and rest. I am learning this process of release and rest daily. I am not sure what your adventure looks like…it may look different today than it was yesterday. No matter what it looks or feels like, I encourage you to release it to God and in releasing; you will be immersed in a place of rest that is full of His peace and presence.

Here is to another day of adventure full of moments of releasing and resting!

Proverbs 37:5 “Commit your way to the Lord; trust in Him, and He will act”


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Just Do It.

A few weeks ago, one of Liam’s coaches asked myself and another mom if we would like to join the soccer team she played on. We talked about it for a bit and then left. I pondered the idea for some time, but was not so sure about it. Then at another one of Liam’s soccer games, the other mom, says, “I signed up. Did you?” and my quick, not thought through, response was, “I am signing up today.” There it was. I just committed to do it. I just committed to join a soccer team. What was crazy about all of it was that I was not hesitant or in regret at all, I was pretty excited. I thought, “I had played before, so this wouldn’t be so hard, right?” Yes, it might have been 13 years since I had been on a field, but all of those soccer “skills” I had possessed would return. Our first game was Monday and my so-called skills were pretty rusty or maybe they were never that great to begin with. No matter what happened on the field, I was glad that I made that quick response. Sometimes you have to do things spontaneously, not dwell on the idea or the what ifs or hows, but just do it.

One of the things that excite me the most about joining a soccer team is that I have the opportunity to meet people outside of the church walls. Getting to hang out with women of all ages and backgrounds weekly through sports is non-threatening, fun and full of opportunity. I am not saying that you cannot do this within the church, but sometimes I feel like meeting people within the church can become limited. Through this team, I get to connect, build relationships, and make memories. I also get some great exercise and laugh a lot, mostly at myself. This team is sort of like medicine to my soul. I don’t have to think about anything, no phone, kids, or to-do lists. Its forty-five minutes for me to disconnect and at the same time to connect with others. If you have a chance to join a team in your area, just do it. Maybe sports are not something that you like. Then I encourage you to think about what you enjoy and find out if there are interest groups in your area. Have fun with it and most of all take the time to connect with others. And take it from me, you definitely do not have to be extremely talented or have it all together to join. Remember it is all a part of an adventure. So on Monday nights, part of that adventure is me joining fifteen other women to play a game of soccer and I am loving it.

 

 


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What’s at the Laird’s table?

Several readers have asked me to post about “How the Laird’s eat”. I receive many questions like: What the heck is Paleo? What are some good recipes? Do your children eat paleo? Well to start off, here is a quick glimpse into our paleo life.

What is Paleo? It is known as the diet of pre-agricultural hunter-gatherers, aka the Caveman’s Diet.
Simple Guidelines: (see http://www.multiplydelicious.com)

  • No processed foods
  • No refined, artificial & added sugars
  • No grains
  • No legumes – including peanuts & anything soy
  • No white potatoes – they spike your insulin, but sweet potatoes are okay.
  • Try to avoid dairy – use fermented or raw grass-fed dairy if needed
  • No alcohol – although if you absolutely have to there are some “better” ones to consume
  • No vegetable oils (that includes canola, peanut, soybean, corn, etc…)
  • Yes to healthy fats – animal fat, coconut oil, olive oil, avocado oil, tallow, nut oils, etc.
  • Yes to grass fed meats, pastured free-range chicken/eggs, wild fish and fresh organic produce

Why Paleo? One of the main reasons people move to the paleo lifestyle is it eliminates all processed foods and helps with digestion. Many people believe that foods have changed over the generations, but our bodies have not adapted. Therefore, we need to return to how we ate in the beginnings for our bodies to respond correctly. For Jason and I, we ate a diet of low carbs, lots of fruits and veggies and protein before “paleo” was a term for us. Then we discovered paleo, began reading about it, and realized with a few modifications, we would be eating paleo. We enjoy how we feel after eating this way; maintain healthy weights, consistent energy and healthy digestive systems.

Lets Eat

Are  the Laird’s die-hard paleo? I would say we are about 90% paleo, especially after completing a 21-day sugar detox at the beginning of the year (more about that on a another post). We believe in having a healthy family and part of that includes unprocessed foods, foods our bodies can naturally digest, lots of fruits and vegetables, and proteins. Do we ever add cheese? Yes. Who can live without cheese all their life? LOL. Do we have sweets every now and then? Yes. We know moderation is key. We are not legalistic. However, we truly enjoy eating this way and do not feel constrained by it. If anything, it has really inspired our creativity on our adventure as foodies. Eating this way is not a diet for us, but a way of life. We are food lovers and for us, this way of eating works.

For more about the paleo lifestyle, visit some of my favorite bloggers:
www.multiplydelicious.com
www.nomnompaleo.com
www.againstallgrain.com
www.paleomg.com