The proof is in the plate...

If you are not yet convinced that power cooking/freezing is worth your time and effort then please allow me to introduce Exhibit A...


That plate of scrumptiousness was ready in 20 minutes. 

We have meals like this 2-3 times/week because of power cooking/freezing.

Seriously. This was my Wednesday:

6am: Wake up excited about dinner because I know that I'm making baked creamy chicken taquitos from this session.
7am - 2pm: Do stuff like take kids to school and work
2pm - 3pm: Carpool line. Daydream of dinner.
3pm - 5pm: Do stuff like work out, read books, and nap with Radley
5:25pm: Pick up girls
6:00pm: Get home
6:03pm: Start dinner
6:23pm: Eat dinner

If you don't believe me, here's the run down of prep time...

I placed everything on the counter I would need for dinner when we got home from grabbing Radley. Skillets were already set out, cans, bowls, etc.

I pre-heated the oven, changed clothes, and then got started. 
Rice was up first since it takes the longest. 
(My kids don't love a tomato in their rice, so I substitute a can of corn instead and they love it!)

As rice was browning, I put the taquitos in the oven.
Got out all the plates and utensils. 
Warmed beans.
Made guacamole. 
And as rice was finishing, so were the taquitos. 

And done.

It took far less than 20 minutes to eat!!!

Seriously, if you are hesitant about power freezing, let this show you how worth the time it is!

Go here for my power cooking sessions and here for power freezing!


Magical makeovers...

Sometimes you pick out your prettiest dress and put on your favorite lipstick.

Sometimes you delicately apply a dash of rouge...

to your already rosy cheeks. 

Sometimes you look at your baby sister and say, "go like this" making a pucker face with your lips.

Sometimes you look at your big sister like she's crazy.

Sometimes you need just a bit more gloss.

And you may need to basically taste it.

Sometimes the best part of being a mom is watching your kids play just like you did with your grandmother's old Avon makeup.

Sometimes you just say yes.

And sometimes (the best times) you put down your camera, close your eyes and let them give you your very own magical makeover, too. 



If you know me at all, you know that I'm pretty sentimental. I keep stuff. Cards, papers, pictures, etc. I get it from my mom and in my growing age, I am trying to declutter and get rid of some things I don't need.

This past weekend my Mom brought me a bag of "stuff" filled with newspaper clippings, random notes and cards of every variety.

But in every bag of junk, there is always some treasure.

Jenni gets so annoyed when I go through old jackets, purses, and even stacks of cards, because inevitably I will find money. Sometimes a lot, sometimes a little, but I always find it.

And this little hunt was no different.

Right in the middle of that stack I found a card and when I opened it, money dropped out.

But when I read it... my heart stopped.

It was from Dee.

I looked at Mom. We both laughed and cried at the same time.

I took a picture and sent it to Jenni. She probably laughed, cried and rolled her eyes at the same time.

There are moments that seem like they happened forever ago. And then there are moments that seem like happened yesterday.

We lost Dee a year ago. 365 days. 1000s of moments. Some of those days were normal and easy to take. Others, like Christmas, birthdays, Mother's Day and even my mom's first trip to the beach without her friend, were hard.

And today isn't easy.

Yes, she is in a better place. Yes, she is no longer suffering. And yes, we can be glad that she is home with Jesus - where she always wanted to be.

But we are human and this is hard.

I ache for my best-friend losing her mom.

I ache for my mom losing her best-friend.

I ache for me.

But, in true Dee fashion, she has shown up to remind us that she is with us. She will always be.

All 3 girls saw the same rainbow this morning. All 3 took a picture without knowing the others saw it. They all 3 sent the pictures to each other, me and Mom.

And then, like a great bestie, she made sure that Mom got "the best pedicure of her life" today.

I pause and give such thanks for this grace in our grief. God is miraculous. He knows just what we need right when we need it.

He knows that we need her.

And because of that, He makes sure that she is with us.

Tiny Tales Thursday...

I witnessed Radley become a man before my very own eyes this week. We were in the middle of watching the Aggies play South Carolina when he glances over at me and Amber and says...

"Mom... can you pause the game while I go use the restroom?"

And if that wasn't enough, he confirmed said status this morning when he walked up to me and said...

"Mom...I think the Aggies have my hopes up."

Get used to it, buddy. That's what makes us Aggies.


And the winner is...

Thanks for all the fun comments here, FB and insta! I did forget to mention the Boppy as a must have item and it totally is. So much so that I am using it right this second as a lap matt for my Mac. So yeah, go buy one of those!

Ok, now to the good stuff.

I feel it is only fair to show you my numbering system before announcing the winner:
  1. Stephanie
  2. Courtney
  3. Fun Kellie ;)
  4. Erin
  5. Kim
  6. Taylor
  7. Donna
  8. Tori
  9. Kelly
  10. The Stuebes
  11. Angela
  12. Stephanie L.
  13. Amber
  14. Jessica 

And the winner is....

The Stuebes!

Please email me your contact information and we will get your basket to you ASAP!!!

Thanks to everyone that visited this post and a BIG thanks to Dr. Smith's for a great prize!


I declare a holiday...

We celebrated one of the best days of the year yesterday... THE FIRST DAY OF SCHOOL! I think it should be a national holiday simply because it's so much fun. Of course, then we wouldn't actually attend school because it would be closed, but you get the idea. I probably liked 1050 pictures on FB because oh my word, the cute!

And not that I am biased at all, but THIS cuteness... well it's downright unbearable. 

(I know I am going to get a hundred emails asking me how I get my plants so lush on my porch so I'll go ahead and tell you now. The fern is fake. The hydrangea survived 7 months (a new record) but it didn't get that amazing brown crunch until last week when I forgot to water it.) 

Y'all. First grade. He wears a 13.5 in shoes. That's 2.5 sizes smaller than my foot. He also is the most handsome first grader I have ever laid eyes on and has hammerhead sharks on his shorts. 

Y'all. Pre-K. She wears a size 2T in basically everything and is 4 years old. She is also the most adorable Pre-Ker I have ever laid eyes on and can rock a side pony better than Cyndi Lauper. 

Y'all. Promises. (She didn't get a sign... I like to make them look forward to something). (Or didn't think to have her hold a sign). (You pick). She wears a 2T in practically everything and is 2 years old. She is also the most precious Promises kid I have ever laid eyes on and is obsessed wearing piggies.

We were out the door by 7:15am to beat the first day of school traffic and made our way for our first drop off at College Hills. Doesn't his school have the best sign? 

This one is from the original school that was built over 50 years ago... we have 7 more years of first day pics in this hallway!

He got settled in and it was time for one last goodbye. Landry and Emmy couldn't stop planting kisses on him and he was only slightly annoyed, so I call it a win. I praise the moments when they actually act as if they like each other instead of only liking to annoy each other. 

They liked him so much that they didn't want to leave. 

We loaded them back in the car and made our way to WDS for the girls "first day" drop off. They each moved into new classes and I am so excited about this year. I adore all the teachers and know that the girls are going to do great. I will let you guess which one was really excited to be THE big kids on campus and which one wasn't too impressed with the idea. 

After I grabbed a donut from the parent plate and handed it to Landry, she was more than ready to tell me bye (the other kids weren't too impressed that she got a donut, but well, their parents clearly aren't into bribery like me). 

Then I hugged Emmy and gave her one more "bubble kiss" and was out the door. I **think** she was in capable hands. She LOVES this group of teachers (and well, they may or may not have let me know how excited they were for her to be in their class 10000 times by now).

So our back to school holiday was a success and I am so ready to watch them all do great things this year! 


If my bestie was having a baby...


I would like to begin by saying that my best-friend is NOT having a baby. So Cotton and Josh on the off chance that you are reading this post, you can relax. (But on the off chance you are reading this post, everyone else should be scared because, a very hot place has just frozen over.) 

Any who... if my bestie were having a baby, and more importantly her FIRST baby, I would take it upon myself and do her big giant favor by telling her exactly what she needs and what she doesn't. And not because I am just a big giant know-it-all but because it is my duty as a seasoned momma to help a sister out. 

In the six, almost 7(!) years that I have received the title of momma, approximately 103,827,010 unnecessary things have been developed and marketed to the overwhelmed, overinformed, over-read, mom-to-bes. (Give or take a few). These women are in panic mode. They want only the best for their child. They are more than likely on the cusp of the GenX/Millenial Generation which means they are overachievers. They only succeed. They will read every book, listen to every expert, and then google what they still have questions about. 

They will buy every type of sleeping contraption, blanket, bottle, and pacifier and then question whether or not their baby should sleep, be swaddled, be bottle fed or even given a pacifier because any of the above may influence brain development and social skills. 

And I'm not kidding. 

I've seen these women up close and personal. I have had them ask me questions and I have watched their overwhelmed reactions when I give them answers. And y'all - these sweet women are being suckered into thinking that what is right for their babies are things like LEATHER STROLLERS. 

Bless them.

So, friends, Romans, readers... do your bestie a favor. Have her check out this list. While I am no official baby expert, I have birthed 3 kiddos, and they are all now above the age of 2 with no real signs of damage. They all slept through the night by 6 weeks (see item number 9) and I only locked one of them out of the house. (Well, actually, I locked myself out of the house...he was inside the whole time).

You really want to pin this one and pass it on to your besties.

Like everything, there are degrees to what you "must have". 

Example - you "must have" shoes. You probably don't need the 4 inch neon orange street walker pair.

Same thing with babies. There are certain things that they must have - to care for them, to comfort them, and to give you some sanity as well. This is a collection of things that I would put on my must-have list. This is just my OPINION. Sadly, no one is paying me to write any of this stuff. 

Traveling Baby

This is a priority for all tiny humans, because you can't stay home forever. So, since you must travel, you want to keep them safe. Most people are on the go all the time these days and kids spend lots of time in cars. Ryan and I currently own 10 car seats. TEN. 

That's ridiculous - mainly because that means there is basically an all-inclusive family vacation sitting around in safety gear. But, it's worth it. We love our Britax seats. They are consistently rated among the safest seats for infants and toddlers, have a huge selection and provide a great, quality product. We have the Marathon and the Roundabout. Both have lasted through all 3 kids and can either be rear or forward facing.

Out of necessity, we discovered Diono carseats. We only have one car that fits all three kids in the back, and only because we purchased two of these seats. They are narrower than other carseats which allows people with big(ish) families and small(ish) cars to not have to purchase that SUV. (Or minivan) (Although I am DYING for a minivan) (I am just not dying for a car payment).

So, while the cost of these seats is a bit pricey, it was only a one time investment rather than a 5 year payment. For us, it worked. We have been pleased with the quality and also thrilled with the safety ratings.

Carrying Baby

I didn't carry Radley that much as an infant. Well, I carried him, but I used my arms and not a carrier. Then we had Emmy and I discovered that I needed my arms more than with just one kiddo and fell hard for the Moby Wrap.

Some people are slightly intimated by the "wrapping" process but don't be. It comes with easy instructions and a video. Piece of cake. I loved the wrap because I could put Emmy/Landry in there and she was all safe and sound and out of the danger of those pesky stranger hands. You know, the lurkers. The people who feel that it is their right to touch your six-week-old. You know the ones. 

Having her wrapped kept unwanted dirty hands and it kept my hands free to shop, cook, or hold Radley/Emmy's hands. I used this a ton with Landry! 

We could go anywhere and she was as content as could be. She would nap and even nurse if she needed to. 

I wish I would have also purchased an Ergo. Technically I still could since some of them can hold up to 45 lbs. I have friends that swear by them and think that it would be a great addition for any new parent - something that would last through all babies!

Strolling Baby

As I mentioned, we are always on the go... which means that you need stroller. There are tons out there (even leather ones). (Y'all. Do not buy a leather stroller. I will judge you.) (In the nicest way). 

If I had to buy a new stroller today as a first time parent, and I knew that without a doubt, I would need a stroller again. I would be extremely tempted to go with the Orbit. I will not lie. These things are PRICEY, but they are ingenious. I have seen them up close and personal at a few baby events and I am a fan.

The carrier can face any direction - out, towards mom/dad, to the side. The handle bars extend up so taller parents aren't slouched over, which can sound silly, but pushing a baby through the zoo, a park, the city and you want comfort. You can switch the bottom out for a traditional "basket type" storage or a diaper bag. It's easy set up/break down and very light weight.

Now again. It is pricey. But, it would be a worthwhile investment if you plan on having multiple kiddos!

Stinky Baby

All babies need baths. 

All babies need safe baths.

All babies' mommas/daddys need an easy way to give said bath.

I did not know of this product for any of my kids, but if I would have, I would have been a fan.

You don't have to fill a cumbersome tub with water and then empty it out and hang it to dry. You simply fill your normal tub and then place this in the water. It won't get that nasty goop on the underside that you don't really check for until it's there and it just dries in the tub. 

Hungry Baby

I am a nursing mom. Well, I was a nursing mom, so I know nothing about formula. BUT, I do know about breastfeeding helpers. My MUST have items for nursing moms...

Lanisoh and Medela are the names in breastfeeding. Both companies offer such great support to nursing moms. True story - my pump broke... and Medela overnighted me a new one... FOR FREE!!! I just had to send mine back in. 

I used the Medela Pump-In-Style and Pumpy survived all three kids. I had to buy a couple of replacement parts but serially, their representatives are so helpful and nice and it was a breeze!

I also used a few Lanisoh products. Starting about 3 weeks before my due date to about a month after, I used their lanolin because well, the sensitive bits are sensitive. 

I preferred the Lanisoh storage bags... they were a little longer and provided more room to write. I estimate that I probably stored at least 25,000 ounces of milk through all 3 kiddos which is roughly 4400 storage bags. These were great!

They also have the best nursing pads. Thin but absorbent and extremely discreet. 

Sleepy Baby

Remember that part about all 3 of my kids sleeping through the night by 6 weeks. Yeah, maybe a lot of that has to do with luck, and my super fatty milk... but I am also convinced it's because of our big belief in swaddling. SWADDLE your baby. Period. The end. They need it. They LIKE it. They will sleep better because of it. 

Our favorite blankets were by Aiden and Anais. They are super soft and airy... big enough to swaddle NBs to 6 months and adorable! 

Sickie Baby

All babies are going to get a runny nose, a cold, a fever, etc... Our pediatrician recommended a tilted mattress and a humidifier. And well, there is none out there better than Crane. And there is definitely none out there CUTER than Crane... I mean, I can't handle it. We own the frog and the elephant. 

Rashie Baby

Sadly all babies get diaper rash at one time or another. And it's pitiful. Radley got the WORST diaper rash ever the day before we were scheduled to take his 1 year pictures and I so wish I would have known about Dr. Smiths at that time. Instead, we were still using a different product and it didn't clear up for a few days. 

And I'm not sure if I've mentioned the SPRAY yet... but y'all... the SPRAY. It is amazing! It's not like sprays that you are used to... it is a concentrated stream, it doesn't linger in the air... you simply spray and move on with your day. It's almost reason enough to have another baby. ;)


(And because I want you to be informed readers... here are links to safety information regarding the products listed above. These are just my opinions... I want you to be comfortable with your choices as a parent and for your baby!)


InstaKings: Edition End of Summer

 It's the night before the first day of school and as I sit and type this, I wonder... where did summer go?! Weren't we just now making that bucket list? And how on earth have I only posted SEVEN times in August?

Oh, yeah... we have been too busy having fun!!! I find it hilarious that the older my children get the less and less I blog. And I thought life with a newborn was tough...HA! They have kept us busy these past 12 weeks and as summer is winding down I am just so thankful for every single minute we've had.

Even the not-so-great ones like when the stomach bug hit this week. The two tiniest Kings got hit hard and it was a pretty pitiful site on Wednesday. Emmy ate a total of 3 goldfish in a 24 hour period. Landry had some crackers and 1/2 a piece of toast. It was bad.

And I was exhausted. I needed help. And wine. And help with my wine!


But that didn't stop our week... we got to spend Thursday night with this kid! We started with Meet the Teacher. We are so excited about Mrs. Vega and all the fun he is going to have in FIRST GRADE! Gah!!!! We ended our night with dinner of his choice (Pei Wei) and dessert. 

Then on Friday we surprised the kids with a fun day of We 5 Kings. Ryan took the day off and we were out the door by 7:45am! 

Our morning included donuts, a trip to Target where each kid got to pick one new thing for school (the girls - dresses; Radley - a TMNT notebook), then pedis and manis for me and the girls and new kicks for Radley. We ended the day with loooong naps, dinner for Uncle Pete's birthday, and mini golf. 

Friday was seriously fun!

Saturday started with an early morning run for me so I could work up a sweat before completing my ALS Ice Bucket Challenge. (To see the video and laugh a lot check out my FB page.) Y'all it was cold, but it was surprisingly refreshing. 

Today we took one last trip to the pool, splashed around, slid down the slide, jumped, swam and ate pizza in the shade. I'd say that it was the perfect way to end an amazing summer!

And that's us in an instant!

A perfect ending...

This weekend marked the end of our amazing summer. We really enjoyed every single bit of it we got and I am so thankful for all the moments big, small and in between! We definitely went out with a bang!! On Friday night we celebrated Uncle Pete's birthday with dinner at Olive Garden followed by mini golf and games. Rad was showing of his motor cross skills...

while Emmy, Ryan and Kailyn were showing off whatever skills this game takes. 

Landry and Cristina were tearing up the roads...

and then this crew did a little fishing. And these faces? Well, these are the faces of a crew celebrating Emmy's big catch of 1000 tickets.

Y'all. She got ONE THOUSAND tickets by shooting a jelly fish. That's insane. The kids got to share the wealth of her big catch by selecting bigger prizes than they are accustomed to. Rad and Kailyn picked giant glow sticks, Landry a weird squishy ball and Emmy... the big winner.... she picked two bracelets worth 5 tickets each. Ha!

On Saturday we made our way to Nederland to celebrate this handsome guys' 2nd birthday! We had a great time with our extended "family" and loved watching all the kiddos play.

By the time today hit, we were ready for a relaxing day and decided that one last visit to the "Prairie" pool was needed.

I can't believe that these girls were less than excited about the water at the beginning of summer! So glad we used that first week to get them used to the pool.

Seriously, this will go down as one of my favorite summers ever and I have these four to thank for it!