Chicky-Chicky-Parm-Parm

Where my Parks & Rec fans at?

2015/01/img_3942.jpgOh Tom Haverford.

Well, as promised, here is my food post of the month! (Look at me keeping my goals and stuff! Don’t ask me how the rest of them are going… *covers face with hands*)

On Thursday night, my sister Maggie was coming over to have a “date night” with Jake, Grant, and I because her boyfriend was out of town. She’s our very favorite third wheel, so we were super excited. Seriously. She’s our favorite person to hang out with. Anyway, I wanted to make something extra delicious to eat before we went and hit up the bowling alley like the cool kids that we are, and I couldn’t stop thinking about how I haven’t had Chicken Parmesan in such a long time, so I decided to give it a try. It turned out SO perfect. We were all silent as we devoured the food off our plates, which is always a good sign that the food is too good to even carry a conversation over dinner.

I used this recipe as a reference, but changed a few things to make it my own. I’ve written the recipe as I made it, just for you!

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Straight from my Instagram. Not the greatest photo.

Chicken Parmesan

20 oz (or 2 1/2 C) gourmet marinara sauce (I used this sauce that my mom brought me when she came to visit last. I think she got it at Costco, and I highly HIGHLY recommend it. I really think it is the most delicious, most perfectly flavored marinara sauce I’ve ever had from a jar. It is just so fresh-tasting and authentic! It really does taste homemade, as it boasts.)
4 boneless-skinless chicken breasts (or about 10 boneless-skinless chicken tenderloins, which is what I used)
1/2 C all-purpose flour
Salt, pepper, italian seasoning, and garlic powder
2 eggs
1 Tbsp water
1 C dried breadcrumbs (I make my own by blending my homemade seasoned croutons in the blender for a bit)
1/2 C panko breadcrumbs (these just add a little extra crunchiness to the breading, which I enjoy)
5-6 slices of provolone cheese, cut in half (the original recipe calls for mozzarella, which I didn’t have on hand. I happened to have some round pre-sliced provolone cheese that I use for sandwiches and it worked out great and tasted wonderful!)
1/4 C parmesan cheese
1 pound angel hair spaghetti, cooked al dente

The rest of the instructions are copied and pasted from the linked recipe, because they pretty much follow exactly what I did. I made minor changes to the instructions below, which are emphasized in italics.

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.

Get the ingredients together for the chicken so you have a little assembly line. Put the chicken breasts side by side on a cutting board and lay a piece of plastic wrap over them. Pound the chicken breasts with a flat meat mallet (or your firsts, if you’re like me and aren’t fancy enough to have a meat mallet), until they are about 1/2-inch thick. Put the flour in a shallow platter and season with a fair amount of salt, pepper, garlic powder, and italian seasoning; mix with a fork to distribute evenly. In a wide bowl, combine the eggs and water, beat until frothy. Combine the bread crumbs and panko on a plate, season with salt and pepper.

Heat 3 tablespoons of olive oil over medium-high heat in a large skillet. Lightly dredge both sides of the chicken cutlets (or tenderloins) in the seasoned flour, and then dip them in the egg wash to coat completely, letting the excess drip off, then dredge in the bread crumbs. When the oil is nice and hot, add the cutlets and fry for 4 minutes on each side until golden and crusty, turning once. You may have to do this in a couple batches, and I learned that it is better to replace the oil after every batch or two, as it blackens the breading and compromises the flavor. Dispose of your used oil in an emptied aluminum can or paper bowl. Do not dump down the sink.

In a large baking dish, ladle a layer of marinara sauce into the bottom and spread evenly (about 2 cups). Place the fried chicken pieces over the sauce in a single layer, then gently ladle the remaining marinara sauce evenly over all of them and top each one with your half-slices of provolone cheese. Sprinkle with Parmesan and bake for 15 minutes, or until the cheese is bubbly and slightly browning. Serve hot with angel hair spaghetti. Spoon extra sauce over the pasta.

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Still need to work on my food-tography, but we were all raving about how it tasted better than a restaurant order of Chicken Parmesan. I hope you achieve the same results! Enjoy!

Chicky-Chicky-Parm-Parm

Some Words and 2015

Hey look! I’m back! Apparently I am a really inconsistent blogger. I make no apologies. But, as a New Year’s Resolution (don’t you love those?) I am going to try to write at least one post a month, highlighting what’s been going on in my family’s life, PLUS one recipe post, because we all know I love food. Just one personal post and one recipe post per month. And if I do well at that, then maybe I’ll try once a week. Who knows? Baby steps. It just makes me sad that so much of my life goes undocumented, because reading my friends’ blogs and seeing how good they are at writing down their sweet memories makes me so happy. I briefly considered going back to journaling (you know, with a paper and pen?) but then quickly remembered that I like don’t even know how to write with a pen anymore and that it takes forever. Hashtag: twentyfirstcenturyproblems. At any rate, I want to have these things recorded to come back to years from now, but I so easily feel overwhelmed by wanting to write EVERYTHING, and to write it all perfectly. Well, I’m finally accepting that that is fantasy and that imperfection is ok. Take this as my commitment to myself, to you, and to the universe that I will leave some kind of record here on this blog at least once per month. Feel free to hold me accountable by any means.

Anyway, I’ll begin with a few orders of business, since I’ve been a little M.I.A… (We all know I’m long-winded. Again, I make no apologies).

First off, you may have noticed (but probably didn’t) that I changed my blog title from “Jacquie Here” to plain old “Jacquie Lyman”. I was sick of the old one, what can I say? And I also am going to stop opening all my entries with the phrase “Jacquie Here.” because… well, I’m over that gimmick (thank goodness, right?). Growing up in the world.

Next, I feel like I reeeeallllly need to address something that may be somewhat of an elephant in the room to some. The birth blog. Oh, the birth blog. Remember how gung-ho I was about all of that all those months ago? *ashamedly covers face with hands* I want to go back in time and give myself a good talking to for thinking that I was going to be able to take something like that on as a new mom (have I even written Grant’s birth story yet? Yikes). Almost a year and a half later and I still feel like it’s never going to happen. Who knows, maybe it will someday. I’d like it to, honestly. But there are a few roadblocks, along with the fact that I just don’t know if I can muster single-handedly operating a project that encompasses something that is pretty darn controversial these days (I hate the thought that people might be offended by it and/or attack me for my views/passions, when all I want to be able to do is educate and support people – call me a chicken, but I just don’t have that kind of energy these days). So for now, I’m going to log it away. However, please know that I still very much care about this and want to be a resource for people who are seeking some support through their unmedicated birth journey. Do not hesitate to contact me if you want to chat! Also, semi-related, becoming a doula is still in my near future.

And finally, I’ve been thinking about changing my blog settings to “private” so that only an approved list of people can follow it. Since becoming a mom, I’ve become hyper-aware of (read: paranoid about) the creepy potential of the internet. I haven’t officially decided to do that, since I know it’s pretty inconvenient for many, but just know it’s under consideration. But don’t worry – If I do decide to do that, anyone who sends me request to be added will be approved, assuming I know you and stuff.

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I am excited for 2015! Something about going into this new year feels different than years past. I’m not sure what it is. A little bit of it is anxiety about all the little things I desperately need to improve upon, I think. The self-reflection that comes with a new year can be a bit overwhelming. I definitely don’t believe I was my very best self in 2014, so I’m going to push myself to be a little better this year. But I am also hopeful that some other aspects of my life that have been at somewhat of a standstill will finally start moving forward again.

A friend of mine posted this “diagram” on social media recently and I haven’t stopped thinking about it since. It has caused a lot of intense inner reflection for me, thinking about which statements I can identify with on each side. How timely for me to have seen this on the first day of the year.

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As far as goals/resolutions for this year, I have been thinking quite a bit about this these last few days and have decided that rather than make a long list of lofty goals like I usually do, I am going to make fewer small, easy-to-reach, categorized goals that I want to really focus on and that are most important to me. This way, I can feel more accomplished and less inundated by my personal goals.

Here they are:
Spiritual – Read scriptures and pray AT LEAST once a day, every day. Bonus if Jake and I do this as a couple (I used to be SO consistent about this habit, but somehow I fell off the wagon a little bit – I’ve definitely noticed the difference its absence makes in my life). Also, continue attending the temple at least once a month (we’ve been pretty good about this one actually! Helps that we live less than a mile from the temple, haha).
Physical – Do an actual “workout” at least once a week (this is a big one for me. I dislike working out. I love physical activity and consider myself a really healthy, active person, but for some reason, doing actual exercises is kind of dreadful to me. Hopefully this goal will help me change my attitude). YouTube videos and home workouts are acceptable. I’m happy with my weight, but would love to see more muscle tone – specifically legs and arms.  Any other friends have this goal too? Let’s help each other! Workout buddies?
Mental – Read 6 books that don’t have the word “face” in them (facebook, get it?) and, as I stated above, blog at least once a month. Audiobooks and e-books are acceptable. (I know 6 isn’t a very big number, which is why I chose it. 6 books in a year is TOTALLY doable. I’m pretty sure I read twice that many in just the summer of 2014).
Emotional - Be a happier, more positive person. Don’t complain or talk badly about others. Show more gratitude to those close to me, especially to my husband, Jake.
Other – Save more, spend less. If I can reasonably buy it second hand, I should try to. Consider wants vs. needs.; Be a more thoughtful and patient wife and mother; Be a better listener; Take an overnight getaway with Jake – sans baby; Complete doula certification.

There’s always a million more things I can be working on, and I will of course reflect on those things periodically, but these are the main things I am going to try to focus on this year. Actually writing them out right here is making me feel surprisingly optimistic and motivated! Here’s to a new year!

Some Words and 2015

Cinnamon Bun Cheesecake Calzones

Jacquie here.

It’s general conference weekend, and that means two things: we get to listen to inspired Gospel messages from our general church leaders and be uplifted through beautiful music, and we get to have an excuse to make decadent pastries and call them “breakfast”. It’s tradition.

We’ve been on a bit of a calzone kick in our home since I found a super easy, perfect dough recipe recently, and this morning, some sweet calzones sounded really good. A quick scan for ideas on Pinterest, and I came up with this! Enjoy!

Cinnamon Bun Cheesecake Calzones

Makes ~1 dozen. Prep time ~45 mins.

(Slightly adapted from this recipe)

Homemade Calzone Dough
Use THIS awesome dough recipe (our personal favorite in this house), and follow all instructions but instead of 5 balls, divide it into a dozen even cookie-sized balls and let sit for 10 mins

Filling
1 pkg cream cheese, softened
1/3 C brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract

Cinnamon-Sugar Topping (may need to make more or less – just eyeball it)
1/4 C white sugar
3/4 C brown sugar
1 Tbsp ground cinnamon

1 egg, beaten in small bowl
Powdered sugar for dusting

Instructions:
Preheat oven to 350 F and spray cookie sheet (you’ll probably need 2) with nonstick spray.

Make calzone dough according to instructions above. While the dough is sitting (rising), in a medium bowl, whip the cream cheese until smooth then add brown sugar and vanilla.

Once dough has sat for 10 mins, dust your rolling surface with flour and one-by-one, roll your dough balls into flat ~6″ circles with a rolling pin. Spoon one spoonful of the cream cheese filling into the center of each circle.

Fold the dough over in half, creating a half-circle pocket, and press the open edges shut. Use the prongs of a fork to press down and make a nice-looking seal.

Place filled calzones on cookie sheet, brush thoroughly with beaten egg mixture, and sprinkle generously with cinnamon-sugar topping. Make sure none of them are touching as they will expand while baking.

Once all calzones have been filled and topped with egg & cinnamon-sugar, bake for 15-20 mins.

Once done, take out and let cool on a plate or countertop for just a couple mins (you still want them to be warm when you eat them). Use any extra cream cheese filling to decoratively drizzle over the finished calzones by putting in a ziploc bag and snipping a tiny hole in one corner to squeeze through. Dust with sifted powdered sugar and serve.

Let me know how they turn out!!

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Cinnamon Bun Cheesecake Calzones

To Compare is Unfair

Jacquie Here.

comparisonvia

This quote, by the wise Theodore Roosevelt, has been on my mind a lot lately. Especially this week as I’ve had a few conversations with some friends and family members about this subject. I’ve been having this nagging feeling that I just need to share some thoughts about the ugly thing that is comparison, because I just can’t get it off my mind, and heaven knows I need to be reminded of this just as much as the next person.

“Comparison is the thief of joy”. Think about it. When was the last time you found yourself feeling joy after comparing yourself with someone else? Probably never, am I right?

Whether it was making a comparison that you were better than someone else, or vice versa, it didn’t make you feel good. Right? Probably just resentful. Maybe jealous. Maybe bitter or prideful. None of those feelings are synonymous with “joy”.

Here’s a sad truth. We live in a world where we have been conditioned to be ashamed of our own strengths, and to be resentful of the strengths of others. How backwards is that? How unfair is that?

Some would argue that we should blame the internet, especially social media, for our tendency to compare ourselves to our friends. We see picture-perfect, intricately decorated cakes and flawlessly designed mansion homes on Pinterest. We see the shiny lives of our friends and acquaintances on Facebook and Instagram and start to wonder why OUR lives don’t look as glamorous. The internet, they say, is breaking down our self-esteem. But I disagree. While maybe social media isn’t helping the situation, it is not what is causing the problem. The thing is – it’s simply not fair to think that way. Someone’s Intagram feed is hardly an indication of what their life is actually like, day in and day out. And thats ok. That’s not a bad thing. People like to share the happy, positive, beautiful things in life with their friends. At least, I do. Nobody wants to individually list all their weaknesses and shortcomings, or negative experiences on a wall for all to see. You wouldn’t want to either. And there’s nothing evil about that. We need to just accept that people are people just like us, and their news feeds don’t define them, and therefore should not define us.

If you need to avoid social media altogether in order to prevent yourself from getting caught up in comparing yourself to others, so be it. But we can’t be blaming Pinterest, Facebook, or Instagram for our insecurities.

Pinterest is not the problem. Facebook is not the problem. Instagram is not the problem.

We are the problem.

We are the problem, because we are too focused on comparing ourselves to what people around us are doing. We assume that no one has the same weaknesses or insecurities that we do, just because we don’t see them. But maybe that’s how some people are feeling about you and your life at this very moment. Maybe they think your life is perfect, and they resent you for it, because they’ve only seen what you’ve publicly shared in your filtered Instagram photos. But that’s just not right.

Why is that girl’s smaller dress size offensive to us? Why does that guy’s nice car make us feel badly about our current economic status? Why do we sigh jealously to see yet another one of our Facebook friends announce a pregnancy? Why is it disheartening to us to see pictures of that super adventurous friend of ours visiting Europe for the 99th time? Why do our neighbor’s lavish parties and trendily dressed children elicit eye-rolling on our part? Because we’re too busy envying and comparing our life to theirs to be happy for them. We’re thinking about ourselves and, why aren’t WE as in-shape as her, or driving a Mercedes, or expecting our third child, or eating macaroons in Paris, or throwing Pinterest-worthy parties? Don’t you think they deserve for us to celebrate with them just a little bit? We would want our friends to be happy for us, wouldn’t we?

We shouldn’t go to bed at night feeling bad about ourselves because of something we saw on Instagram. We shouldn’t have insecure thoughts about our own strengths and accomplishments just because our friends are doing amazing, happy things with their lives too.

Once you start comparing your life to someone else’s, it’s all downhill from there. Comparison leads to resentment, which leads to jealousy, which leads to us feeling horribly about ourselves, which leads to us disliking others, which makes them feel horrible too. Nobody wins. And now, we are trapped – we are afraid to share ‘too many’ happy things about our lives, for fear that our successes will make others feel badly about themselves. Postitivity is replaced with negativity. Now we’re ashamed of our talents, of our good hair days, of our kid taking his first steps. Someone will leave a back-handed, sarcastic comment on your photo,”Ugh, you’re so beautiful. I hate you.” Now they resent you, and you in turn are feeling guilty for having felt good about yourself for a second. Now you want to hide your talents “under a bushel”, rather than sharing our “light” with others (Matthew 5:15).  See what I mean? Unfair. (See also: this post by my blogger-friend Katie, about letting yourself shine)

We need to ‘Stop It’, as the ever-so-quoted Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf once said. We need to realize that everyone has their strengths, and everyone has their weaknesses. They are all different, and one person’s strengths might be another person’s greatest struggle – but that doesn’t make one better than the other. It just means they’re different. One person’s successes may not be your successes, but that doesn’t mean they’re your failures. Everyone is in their own individual walk-of-life, under their own unique circumstances, so you can see how it’s so unfair to compare our strengths and weaknesses with anyone else’s. We need to learn to be happy for each other, without making it about ourselves. After all, it’s not as if someone else is succeeding or having a happy life to spite you.

Don’t be afraid to share the happy, shiny things in your life. Don’t hesitate to join in another’s joy when they share the happy, shiny things in their life. I promise, if we spend more time being selflessly, genuinely happy for one another, we will find ourselves feeling more joy, rather than being robbed of it. If we hand out more compliments, we will begin to notice and accept genuine compliments from others. If we refrain from resenting another for having something we don’t, we will better appreciate the blessings we do have. Everyone wins.

 

 

Love,
Jacquie.

To Compare is Unfair

Super Quick Ramen Pho

Jacquie Here.

I thought I’d take a quick break in my monthly updates to share a recipe with you, since it’s been awhile and I want to make sure you don’t forget how much I love food (and cooking). My sister-in-law Melissa and I have been trying lots of new, creative recipes this summer since we have a lot of free time. Today, we made this for lunch and it really hit the spot. We’ve had a series of rainy, stormy, overcast days here in Houston and it just really put us in the mood for some brothy soup. I just happened to randomly pick up these organic ramen noodles at my local grocery store this week and wanted to try them out. After skimming through a variety of ramen and pho recipes all over the internet and Pinterest, and realizing that they all called for some pretty obscure ingredients that I definitely didn’t have on hand, I came up with this recipe on my own, using only what I could find in my kitchen. That being said, don’t get all excited about it being super authentic or anything… Because it’s probably not at all. And I used chicken, while traditonal pho typically has beef. But as far as my personal experience with pho goes, it’s pretty darn close! It’s seriously so quick and easy and delicious, I’ll probably be making it a lot. It literally takes like ten minutes. Plus, it makes me think of my sister Maggie, because she’s addicted to pho (like seriously, she has a pho problem…), and I love her.

PS – Sorry my measurements are kind of vague – They’re all just approximations of what I threw together.

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Super Quick Ramen Pho

Ingredients:

1 1/2 C chicken broth
4 C water
1/2 tsp ground ginger powder (fresh grated ginger would probably be better, but I didn’t have any)
1 or 2 cloves of fresh, minced garlic
1-2 Tbsp soy sauce
2 tsp red chili paste (I like Sambal Oelek, which can be found in the Asian aisle at any grocery store)
4 cabbage leaves, chopped
2 whole carrots, julienned
2 raw chicken breasts, thinly sliced
1/2 pkg organic ramen noodles (really any ramen noodles would do just fine. If you get the kind in the square package, just use the whole block)
About 1 C finely chopped cilantro
2 handfuls of kale, chopped
2 green onions, chopped
salt & pepper to taste

Optional:
3 Tbsp Panko bread crumbs
1 tbsp oil

Directions:

Pour chicken broth and water into pot and add ginger, garlic, soy sauce, chili paste, cabbage, and carrots. Bring to a boil. Add noodles, chicken, salt, and pepper. Continue boiling until noodles and chicken are done, about 5 minutes. Reduce heat to simmer and add cilantro and kale. Cook for 1-2 more minutes and serve piping hot. Top with green onions and crispy Panko crumbs (see below). Add more soy sauce or chili paste as desired.

For optional crispy Panko crumbs:

In a small bowl, combine Panko crumbs and oil. Stir to mix well. Spread out in a flat layer on a cookie sheet and bake for about 3-4 mins in a 450 degree oven, or until golden and crispy.

***This would’ve also been good with some sesame oil, shiitake mushrooms, bean sprouts, lemongrass, and bamboo shoots, then topped with Sriracha. But I didn’t have any of those things. If you do, throw them in too! Really, as long as you have some noodles, broth, chicken (or beef), and a good mix of Asian-friendly veggies and spices, you can make any variation of this soup.

Enjoy!

 

Love,
Jacquie.

Super Quick Ramen Pho

Life Updates: October 2013

Jacquie Here.

I decided I should make this “catching up” thing as easy as possible for myself by breaking my posts down by month. That way they’re easier to remember and write. I’ll start with October, because Grant was born on September 30th, and I’m pretty much caught up to that point.

The first two weeks of October were kind of a whirlwind. Actually, all of October was a whirlwind. But especially those first two weeks. People always warned me that babies were a lot of work, but it just isn’t something you can actually comprehend until you’ve done it. Hard work, but so so worth it.

For the first ten days, we mostly just enjoyed being restful and quiet in our apartment with our sweet brand new baby and Jake’s parents who had come all the way to Houston to be with us and help us during that time. I must say, it was SO nice to have my mother-in-law, Sheriece, around during that time. She was so helpful. I think it’s safe to say that the only reason we survived those two weeks was because she was there! Aside from being an AMAZING support person at Grant’s birth, she cooked every meal for us (and sometimes even half-fed me while I fed Grant), ran every errand for us, took late-night runs to Target for us, did our laundry, took Nelly to the dog park daily, was there for me for moral support and to answer all my mommy-related questions, and even helped me bathe. Haha. I’m sure she did a million other things as well that I didn’t even notice, because she made sure I got all the rest I could get and spent time recovering with my new babe. She was seriously a life saver. On top of doing basically everything required to run our household, she took on 99% of the work when it was time for us to pack up the apartment into our two cars to go back to AZ. That was no small task.

I do have to also give some credit to my amazing father-in-law as well. He was also there for us during that transitional time in our lives. Especially for Jake. Thayne (Jake’s dad) is the quintessential example of a dedicated, loving father. I am so glad that my husband has such an amazing man to look up to and learn from. There were a lot of other more “business”-related things going on in our lives in the background during those two weeks, and Thayne was there to make sure we got all those things taken care of. He also provided some great counsel to us as we made some important, stressful decisions (like trying to decide whether or not Jake was going to transfer his schooling to BYU and move us up to Provo that semester, which we ended up deciding against).

Obviously it was kind of an insane first few days as new parents. And obviously I have amazing in-laws, because I hardly had to do anything.

By the 10th, Thayne had left Houston and returned to work. Sheriece stayed to make the long drive back to Arizona with us.

In case you’re confused about all the moving around: We were only in Houston on a temporary basis. Jake’s job takes us there every summer from May-August, but this particular summer, we opted to stay there one more month and deliver our baby in Texas. There were a few reasons we made this choice. For one, we didn’t want to be traveling on the road for two days while I was full-term pregnant for obvious reasons. Second, we had come to absolutely LOVE our midwives and birth center in TX and couldn’t imagine delivering with anyone else.

Sheriece and Nelly were in one car while Jake, Grant, and I were in the other. I don’t know what we would have done if we hadn’t had another driver with us for our second car. There was no way I could’ve made that trip in the driver’s seat at ten days post-partum. And what should have only been a two-day trip turned into a three-day trip – it was pretty exhausting. It turns out that ten-day-old babies aren’t the best road-trippers. Frequent nursing and diaper-change stops were made, but we all kept a resilient attitude. Nelly was actually a great traveler, besides that one time while we were stuck in some intense stop-and-go traffic on the freeway in downtown Austin and she got a little antsy. She somehow managed to climb through/over the barricade from the back of the car to the front and practically climbed on poor Sheriece’s lap while she was trying to drive (a manual transmission car, mind you) through all that traffic. And Nelly is not, by any means, a lap dog. We’re talking almost 60-pounds of dog here. Jake and I were nearly dying laughing watching all of this go down in our rear-view mirrors. Something we all can laugh about now.

After way too many Subway sandwiches, lots of rest stops/gas stations, two nights in motels, and maybe a couple of emotional breakdowns on my part (I blame post-partum hormones), we FINALLY arrived home in Mesa, AZ.

First thing we did upon arriving into town was meet our new landlord at our new rental house to pick up our keys. Then, we returned to the apartment we had left back in May, to sleep for one night then pack up all the big things we had left there. A day or two later, a few of our friends showed up with a trailer to help us move our things to the new house. (I know, lots of moving… Like I said, we’ve moved three-ish times in the last 7 months… I’ll tell you about the third time in a later post) My sweet new friends Brea and Ashley came with their babies Oakley (who is just one week older than Grant – we had the same due date!) and Ruby, and we three sat and nursed our babies and kept each other company while the men, and Sheriece, did all the work.

Sheriece’s flight back home to Seattle was that night, after everything had been moved. As she gathered her things to get ready for Jake to take her to the airport, it started to kind of hit me what life would be like after she left. We’d be on our own for the first time since Grant’s birth. Were we ready for that? All I could think about was how desperately this house needed to be cleaned (it felt like it hadn’t been cleaned in ten years and I was so overwhelmed with where to even begin making it livable), and how it was nearly impossible to make it from one room to another maneuvering around all the hundreds of boxes, and how I didn’t even know where my toothbrush or underwear were in all the piles, and how we had an empty fridge and pantry with no promises of being able to make it to the grocery store any time soon, and how this colicky baby just wanted to be held and wouldn’t let me put him down, even for a second while I used the bathroom. How were we going to even get the first box unpacked without Sheriece’s help? Having just moved into the new neighborhood and knowing pretty much no one in the area, we felt helpless (and hungry). Sheriece and I cried as we said our goodbyes and hugged each other over and over again. And then it was just the three of us.

Looking back, I still don’t know how we got through that! It exhausts me just thinking about it. Guys – Don’t ever drive across the country and move twice in one week with a two-week-old baby. Just don’t. I guess I just took it one box at a time. Honestly, it wasn’t until about six months later that I felt like we had actually FINALLY finished getting mostly settled – for someone like me, that felt like a lifetime. Babies really change your life. I know that if we had been able to stay put after having just had a new baby, things would have been wayyyy easier, but that wasn’t an option for us at that point in our lives. Funny how life doesn’t just stop when you have a baby.

By the last week of October, we were desperately ready for a vacation. Fortunately, Jake works for an awesome company and they had planned an all-inclusive stay in a really awesome private “resort” called Pirate’s Cove for our entire office. Some people may have said we were crazy for getting on the road, once again, with a 5-week-old baby, but we all just really needed it. And we were so so glad we went, even if it was hard at times. We enjoyed getting a break from our unpacking and cleaning to be with our friends at a really cool place!

Since St. George, UT wasn’t too much out of the way, we ended up taking a little side trip there on our way back to AZ to visit my mom and sisters and spend Halloween with them. In case you’ve lost count, that’s 5 states in Grant’s first month of life – TX, NM, AZ, NV, UT. We are insane, I know. We got to see their cute costumes and went to their ward party/trunk-or-treat. Grant even had a little pumpkin outfit that his Grandma Sheriece had gotten for him as a gift before she went home. It was so nice to get to spend a couple days with my family and let my mom and sisters meet Grant for the first time. My sister Lydia even used her new photography studio and took a couple newborn photos and family photos for us while we were there, which I will always treasure!

All in all, October was a crazy time for us, but I feel like I need to clarify that amidst all the chaos, Jake, Grant, and I did get to enjoy plenty of sweet, special moments as a new family. There were still those moments of stillness and quiet, where we just looked at our precious baby – so perfect and new – and felt so close to Heaven. And thought, “Wow. We did this! Look at this sweet, innocent life we have created!”. I would give anything to go back and enjoy that time, when he was just so fresh and tiny, just a little longer. It went by too fast. Perfect moments always do.

And now for a major photo overload of pictures (which are horribly out of order) taken during October. I’m a little self-conscious of some of these photos of me, because I look at them and see a sleep-deprived, bloated, and slightly delirious new mom. But I want to share them anyway, so I hope you can see past that.

With Grandma Sheriece at the park. 2 days old.

011Newborn/family photos taken by my sister Lydia on Grant’s one-month birthday.
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Meeting Great Grandpa Roberts (who inspired his middle name) for the first time.

015Meeting Great Aunt Cindy for the first time. He wasn’t in a very chatty mood.

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Tired little pumpkin on Halloween.
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My sister Sofia and our niece Kendy on Halloween.
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My sister Sara and my mom on Halloween.
016I dressed up as a New Mommy for Halloween. Har har har.
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A spur-of-the-moment blogger date to meet Kristine Foley of The Foley Fam at a park in St. George. She was just as sweet in real life. I’m so glad we met via the Cara Box Exchange last summer.
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I didn’t want to post this one, because I look nasty, but I still love it for some reason. St. George Temple with my baby.
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Meeting Great Grandma Sharlene Lyman for the first time.
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We went to see my sister Sara cheer at a high school volleyball game.
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Cute little old man.
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Silly faces at Pirates Cove.
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Laying out with Uncle Andrew at Pirates Cove. That little smirk!
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Comparing sizes with his cousin, Emmet, who is 4 months older.
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Getting kisses from his cute cousin Kendy.003

Funny faces.
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My sister Maggie came to our new house to give Jake a much needed haircut out on the back patio.

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Nursing mamas while the men unload the trailer in the new house. I spy Jake’s finger. 009

So alert!
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Saying one last goodbye to Grandma Sheriece after her two-week stay with us.006

Mom and Grant taking a little nap.007

Meeting Aunt Maggie for the first time.009

Cute little lumberjack. Two weeks old.004

Meeting my dad, Grandpa Mike, for the first time.006

Meeting my friend Amanda for the first time (we just happened to run into each other at the same gas station in Wilcox, AZ on our way into town!)004

Saying goodbye to Texas with a visit to our favorite beach.014 010 008 007

Grandpa Thayne and his first grandbaby.003 009

The two cutest boys I know.006

Love,
Jacquie.

Life Updates: October 2013

I Guess I’m Back

Jacquie Here.

Hello! Yes! This is not a drill. It’s really me, Jacquie. Writing on my blog. My ever so dusty, so neglected, poor little blog.

It’s no secret that I have pretty much been AWOL from the blogging world (as both a writer AND a reader) for like the last seven plus months, and I feel like I have a lot of explaining to do. But I don’t really want to get into all the excuses (of which there definitely is no shortage). Like how I had a baby. And how that baby is very cute and very demanding of all of my time (Not complaining. He’s my favorite). And how we’ve been doing a lot of traveling. And how I have been making a lot of new mommy-friends and going on mommy-dates. And how we have moved three-ish times since I last blogged (I’ll explain later). And how it’s rare that I get a few minutes with both typing hands free. And how when I do get those minutes, I have a lot of other priorities over blogging (sorry, truly).

But I decided I needed to make this meager little blog a priority again. Even if no one reads it anymore and it’s just for my personal records. Because I would hate to let all this time slip away with no written memories. So, it’s time. I have dusted off the ol’ Toshiba and I’m back (we’ll see how well I can keep it up). Thank heavens I even remembered my WordPress password. (insert praising hands emoji here)

So wow. A lot has changed since I last blogged. Obviously. In this post, let me first address a couple of things that I know some people have been wondering about. Another post will follow shortly with actual life updates (hopefully before another 7 months go by…).

1) What about that natural birth blog you were all excited and gung-ho about starting up?
Ohhhh man. About that. I went back to that post I wrote when I was first announcing the idea and I couldn’t help but laugh at myself. My cute little childless self who had all this time and energy and very few obligations to anything else. I was so revved up about getting that thing going! I had NO clue that once this baby came out of me, it would be MONTHS before I could even think about a project like that again. Note to self: don’t start ambitious projects during third trimester of pregnancy. Anyway, months have gone by and now I can think about it again. And YES – I am just as excited and gung-ho about that project actually happening as I was then, but I now realize that it’s not something that can be done all in a day’s work. It’s going to take time. And two hands (rare, member?). But it’s going to happen. Someday. And I will admit that one of the biggest set-backs I’ve been dealing with, besides the being busy thing, is thinking of a name/title/domain for this thing that isn’t lame or already taken. So if you have any ideas, I’m all ears.

2) Speaking of birth, why have you left us hanging for almost eight months now and still no birth story?
I’m not even going to bring up the being-a-busy-new-mom thing again. Just consider that my automatic excuse for everything. But another reason I still haven’t written it is because I want it to be goooood. I want the words to all be just right. And I want to do the whole experience justice. Obviously I’m passionate about this, so I kinda feel like it has to be perfect. And I haven’t had time for perfect. Although, again, I realize I may never have time for “perfect” again, so I reckon I’d better just get to it and write it before his first birthday. Sorry to those of you who keep asking for all the details! I really am not trying to be secretive. It was incredible and I can’t wait to share! Soon! That will be next, I promise. At least I did tell you I had a baby. And I warned you the birth story would take time. So there’s that.

Also on the birth-related to-do list: get the ball rolling on my doula certification. Super excited.

So yeah. I promise I have more to talk about in life than just birth. It just so happens these are the questions I’ve been getting a lot lately.

Stay tuned.

Love,
Jacquie.

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I Guess I’m Back