1.29.2016

InstaKings...

Here's a sneak at our week from my phone's perspective... 

On Sunday we introduced the kids to the greatest sport ever played. Radley did a reading challenge at school and scored two free tickets so we bought three more so we could all go together. The girls enjoyed the popcorn, I enjoyed the game and Rad and Ryan enjoyed watching me get angry at the LACK OF OFFENSIVE REBOUNDS the Aggies managed. They finally decided to really play and managed a win and started the week ranked at #5! 

#Ishouldclearlybeacoach


And while basketball may be the greatest sport, FNL is definitely the greatest the sports show of all time so I started watching it again during a long day of work on Sunday. (Yes, Sunday). I have managed to finish Season 1 in 4 days. Oops. 


Radley and I finally finished book 1 of Harry Potter and I have to admit that I loved it so much more than I thought I would. Favorite line: 

"He didn't realize that love as powerful as your mother's for you leaves its own mark." - Dumbledore 

Rad thought it was funny that I started tearing up at the end, but he definitely wasn't surprised. "Mom, you cry at everything." 

Also. Let's discuss how much a like we look in this picture. 



It had been way too long since I'd seen this girl. If you don't read Holly you are missing out some amazing inspiration to serve others daily, to live life with joy and to celebrate the extra ordinary. She is doing a series on the Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up based on Marie Kondo's book and she is rocking this process. I need her to go ahead and post the after pictures of her closet. Seriously, make her part of your daily reading!


I also officially mastered the Whole30 breakfast. Recipe soon.


A HUGE highlight for my week was letting this girl have a play date with her bestie, Macy. All day long it's Macy this, Macy that. Me and Macy...Macy and Me... basically adorable come to life. 


She was counting down the days to early release when Macy got to come home with us and that morning of all things, we pulled up right behind them in the carpool line. They squealed and ran up to each other like they hadn't seen each other in years and proceed to walk in to school HOLDING HANDS. And I died right there. 


I drove away with happy tears because my girl was happy. And I prayed a prayer that she was loved by her friends as much as I have been loved by mine. 


And while this hasn't happened yet... Shelly and I are excited about watching our series grow this year. We know that it may not be the easiest to come up with things to talk about so we came up with some prompts for different women you can highlight in Queen Bees. We'd love you to join us!

And that's us in an instant!


Linking up with AndreaErika, and Narci....Go check out other people's favs!



1.28.2016

Tiny Tales Thursday...

Ok, last NYC story, I promise.

I just forgot to write this one down and didn't want to forget it.

So, Landry took full advantage of her role as baby on this trip. She knows how to work the system to get big brother and sister to give in to her every desire. Emmy was basically the sweetest and let Landry monopolize the stroller or being carried by Ryan 97% of the trip. But after our last meal at Serendipity, Ryan promised Emersyn that he could carry her "the WHOLE way home".

(Which was a total of 4 blocks).

Landry was clearly not a fan.

She was crying and so depressed and just could.not.go.on.

Me: Landry - you are going to survive.
Landry: WAAAAHHHHHH
Me: Landry, you're being ridiculous.
Landry: WAAAAHHHHHH
Me: Landry, your daddy has carried you the whole trip. It's Emmys turn.
Landry: Sniff sniff But he sniff put me down sniff like A MILLION times. sniff 
Me: Uncontrollable laughter.

Life's hard as a threenager.

1.27.2016

When you don't get first...

Radley was selected to compete on the UIL Storytelling team at his school. They'd been working on their skills since November and they finally got to compete the second week of school. The week of the competition we talked a lot about how he may or may not make the finals and how he just needed to try his best and be happy with his performance no matter what. 


Parents don't go to the meet (is that it's called) so my mind was on him all day and I was just praying that he was happy with himself. That afternoon as I was waiting in the carpool line, I was a ball of nerves. I was proud of him whether or not he won, but I wanted him to be proud of himself. 


As I pulled up to that curb, I saw him and he shook his head "no" and I keep that smile on my face. 

"I didn't make the finals, Momma."
"Well, that's ok, buddy... did you have fun? Did you try your best?"
"Yes ma'am. Camille Powers made the finals so if it's okay with you, can we still go to the awards ceremony so I can see if she wins?" 
"Of course we can."

And that was worth the whole process for me. I am a fan of competition. I think it's important for our kids to learn that they won't always be first, but they can always win. Choosing your attitude, acting with honor, trying your best, being a good sport - as cliche as it sounds - those are what winners are made of and that day, I took home a winner. 


Our afternoon was filled with his strategies on how to win next time. What he could improve on, how he thought he could practice more, and what we wanted to try next year. He asked if I had ever competed in any UIL event and I told him in the 7th grade they need someone for DICTIONARY SKILLS (y'all - I had to ask him if he knew what a dictionary was because you know, google. Thankfully, he did.) the morning of the event and that Gigi MADE me go after Mrs. Hawkins called our house. 

I won. 

Which just goes to show that sometimes events aren't really that tough. 

And no one cared about DICTIONARY SKILLS. 



He ended up getting a ribbon, and while part of me wanted him to go home with nothing more than his pride in competing, he was thrilled with the recognition. I was just proud of the big kid he's becoming and thrilled that he's mine. 

1.26.2016

Whole30 Holy Grail...

Y'all. I found the holy grail of Whole30 goodness. 

Nachos. 

May I repeat... 

N-A-C-H-O-S!!!!



I don't know that I can adequately express how much I love nachos. They are my comfort food. As in, when I have a bad day, I call Chuys, order the Panchos Nachos and pretend they aren't just for me to the carry out person and then go home and do this...


So I basically cried tears of joy when I came across this post on Instagram...


(Do yourself a favor and follow this account.)

I immediately sent Ryan a text and asked him to add these ingredients to the grocery list so when I was done with a long work weekend ahead I could celebrate.

And y'all. These were SO good and SO easy and I need them every single day of my life. 

PLANTAIN NACHOS FROM WELL FED 2Serves 2-4 | Prep 20 minutes | Cook 30 minutes


PLANTAINS:2 green plantains (they MUST be GREEN)1 tablespoon coconut oil, melted


TACO MEAT:2 teaspoons coconut oil1/2 medium onion, minced (about 1/2 cup)3 cloves garlic, minced (about 1 tablespoon)2 tablespoons chili powder1 teaspoon ground cumin1 teaspoon ground coriander (we didn't add this)1/2 teaspoon dried oregano leaves (also pretty sure we didn't add this)1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper (and maybe even this bc the kiddos)3/4 teaspoon salt1 pound ground beef2 tablespoons tomato paste1/2 cup Whole30 compliant chicken broth (or water)2 teaspoons cider vinegar


GARNISH:minced scallions, jalapeƱo slices, diced avocado, shredded lettuce, chopped tomato, fresh lime juice


DIRECTIONS:Preheat oven to 350F. Cover two large baking sheets with parchment paper.


Peel the plantains and use a mandoline slicer on its thinnest setting to make plantain coins. Toss the slices and the coconut oil in a large bowl. (Ryan just sliced ours really thin - no fancy slicer needed).


Use four coins to make each "tortilla:” Lay them flat on baking sheet with edges slightly overlapping; sprinkle with salt. Bake 25-30 minutes until crisp & starting to brown. Meanwhile…


Heat coconut oil in a non-stick skillet over medium, 2 minutes. Add onion and cook until soft, 7-10 minutes. Mix the garlic, chili powder, cumin, coriander, oregano, cayenne, and salt, then add to onions.


Crumble the ground beef into pan and cook, breaking up clumps, about 5 minutes. Push meat to the side & drop in tomato paste; fry 3 minutes. Add broth and vinegar; stir. Bring to boil, then reduce to simmer and cook, uncovered, 10 minutes. Pile meat on top of plantain chips & top with garnishes.


This was a huge hit! We made the kids tacos and then Ryan and I ate nachos and we had enough for me to have lunch the next day. So yummy y'all and I didn't even miss the cheese. (Okay, maybe I did a little).

Happy Whole30ing!

1.24.2016

NYC: Behind the lens

I want to let you in on a little secret - it's not all puppy dog tails and fairy tales around here. All these posts and instagram pictures are real life, but there's also LOTS that happens that you don't see. And lately I've gotten lots of "your life always looks so perfect" which is great to hear but also not true. And I'm pretty big on being true, so I'm going to give you a behind the scenes look into We5Kings. 

Our New York trip was one for the books - lots of fun, lots of memories, lots that we got to see and do and eat! And there was also LOTS  of arguing, tears, and fits. And the kids were annoying, too. 

;)


For example - this cannoli. Y'all. You would have thought that this was the last piece of food on the face of the earth. And while Grimaldi's makes an amazing cannoli, I basically told them I would leave them on the Brooklyn Bridge if they didn't quit being so selfish. 


And I wasn't lying. We used the "we will leave you right here" threat about 173 times in 4 days. 

At the park when they couldn't figure out how to take turns.
At the museum when they needed 17 different toys.
On the bridge. And maybe even the subway.


The trip high came when I walked away. They were stunned but miraculously managed to be kinder.


Speaking of leaving them there - I can't even count the number of times we walked a good 15 yards away from Landry when she decided walking wasn't an option. We brought a stroller - as in one. It sat one. We have two small girls. Do the math and guess how that worked out. Emersyn basically threatened to call CPS on us, "Mom - she's a BABY - I'll just let her ride in the stroller. It's FINE. Now GO GET LANDRY." 

Yeah, those smiles are full of lies. That's how they reel you in...like miniature evil hypnotists making you believe they're sugar and spice and all things nice. 


For the most part, they were amazing travel buddies. Especially this kid. A trooper walking all those miles...



Meanwhile, these 3 grabbed shut eye wherever they could. 
(And who could blame them?) 


So the truth is, it's not all perfect around here. But you know what? That's perfectly fine with me. All of our crazy, all of our loud, all of our imperfections are the sweetest part of We5Kings. 


Now, for all of you that have asked for some NYC travel tips with kids... 




  1. Do what your kids can handle - don't set unrealistic expectations for their age and be okay with not doing it all because... 
  2. Remember that you can always come back
  3. Pack snacks and water
  4. Don't forget to bring them :)
  5. Stay somewhere that either has breakfast included or where you can make it yourself
  6. Buy AMNH tickets online - we bought the "plus one" tickets because we didn't think the kids would want to sit through more than one show. We were correct, but if you have an older crowd that moves quicker, then you may be able to make more shows.
  7. Buy Statue of Liberty tickets there - we saved $50 doing this and since we were on the first ferry there was virtually no wait.
  8. Check TKTS in the morning for matinee tickets; after 3pm for evening tickets
  9. Ask the kids what they want to do - you'll be surprised how simple they are to please
  10. End your trip at Serendipity. 
  11. Eat something from the street. 
  12. Have fun.
  13. And enjoy every bit of the crazy in between!









1.22.2016

InstaKings...


Hi. It's Friday, which means it's time to get a glance of life from my phone...

My weekend started like any student organization advisor this year... being tortured by this in my car! #Whole30 arch nemesis and I stayed strong. Not one bite!



The adventure continued the next day in the middle of nowhere Texas (also known as Sommerville) and it was FREEZING, raining and there was no heat inside. Did I mention it was freezing? So me and the execs huddled up in my car and watched movies during free time. 


Later that night we huddled by the fire and then they let me impart some words of wisdom onto those freshmen. I talked about commitment and some questions you should ask before saying yes to something...

Do you Care about it?
What kind of Opportunity does it bring you?
Are you going to have some fun and Make Memories?
Are you just interested in it or will you act with Intention?
What will this commitment say about you and how will it Tell your story?

(the capitalized letters spell COMMIT). 


The next day Texas redeemed herself with some perfect hiking weather that we all enjoyed.


And then the Whole30 stars aligned and we discovered compliant NACHOS!!!

Y'all. I have NACHOS! This is everything. 

(recipe review coming soon)


Monday was a holiday so we headed up to the bowling alley for the 6th year in a row and while the Munsons were camping and couldn't hang with us, the kids were pumped to spend some time with the Prochazkas. 


Sage and Emersyn are pretty adorable. 


And as an extra treat - DADDY GOT TO JOIN US!


For $15 we got unlimited bowling, laser tag, mini golf AND a $5 game card. Y'all. This is amazing.


In case you missed Tuesday's post, I basically prove that I don't really have it all together. Which was supported that morning when I spilled coffee down my dress, had to change while the kids sat in the car, tripped while carrying Landry into school and didn't realize I had been wearing Emersyn's sunglasses all morning until I went to put them up and discovered my glasses were already in the holder. 

#momfessionals


My kids LOVE acting out the pages of books. I LOVE it when my kids act out pages of books. 

#flymedaddy


"Mommy - don't these leopard shoes look so cute with this striped dress?"

Ummm. Yes. Yes they do. Shelly should be so proud. 

#minifashionista 


I'm so proud of more than just her style, too. Every day she comes home ready to tackle her daily journal and I love all the stories she tells and pictures she draws. They are given a daily prompt and then have to finish the sentence. This day was "How many people are in your family?" She spells the words by "stretching" her sounds... 

"Five pepl are in my famly."

My favorite may have been "What does your mom like to cook?" 

"My mom liks to cuk brussl sprowts."

#whole30kid


Speaking of Whole30... y'all. These people must know something. I mean, as much as I hate to admit it, sugar, bread, milk, CHEESE are probably better in moderation. I haven't worn this skirt since grad school (which is longer ago than I'd like to admit) (#12years). I have no idea how much I weigh but my clothes fit better and I'm feeling great. 

So - STICK WITH IT y'all. Whatever your "it" may be... you CAN do this. Some days will suck. Some times you'll want "just one bite/cheat/sleep-in day/whatever". But stick with it. 

(Also, yes. I kept a skirt for 12 years that I haven't worn, but it's an awesome little wool A-line number from Banana, so I'm probably keeping it forever). 


I was all dressed up for this guy's (on the right) last big hoorah before we leaves us for Kentucky. Lyndon has been a constant support, inspiration, cheerleader, shoulder, anger manager, counselor, and on the occasion - beer drinking buddy. You know, my work spouse. And he's LEAVING ME. 


And worse, he won't even let me keep Austyn here. 

I mean, how precious is she?? She was my office mate for about 25 minutes until she woke up in a strange place with a strange lady and no parents to be found. Poor girl. 


Gosh, this couple. I love them so and will miss them dearly. Can't wait to see what blessings they bring to Kentucky through their work and their presence and their countless gifts. Brandy is one of the most genuine, caring, intelligent, loving, strong women I know and they are just a power couple of goodness. Pryors, you will be missed. Come back soon!



And that's us in an instant!


1.21.2016

Tiny Tales Thursday...

At the end of each day on our trip, we would ask the kids what their favorite thing from that day was. It's funny what matters to kids...

Saturday:
Rad - Brooklyn Bridge
Emmy - Brooklyn Bridge when she got to ride in the stroller
Landry - falling asleep on Brooklyn bridge

Sunday:
Rad - Ocean movie at the museum
Emmy - Food court at the museum and drinking out of a tea cup
Landry - Chocolate milk at dinner and digging for dinosaurs at the museum

Monday:
Rad - Seeing the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island
Emmy - Seeing a "GIANT GREEN STAR!!" (And no, not in the sky, "Green Star" is the name of an animal that Santa brought her and we saw the giant version in a shop window and that was the highlight of her trip - ha!) 
Landry - Riding the train


When we ask them now...

Rad - just being able to go (such a sweet first born)
Emmy - eating "stones" and drinking from a pretty cup
Landry - seeing monkeys at the museum


May their memories always be so simple and happy!

1.20.2016

3Cs...

Hi.

I am an all or nothing girl. If I give myself a little bit of leeway, then just run with it. For example: If I say "yes" to a "small" volunteer job that shouldn't take much time, I manage to come up with 437 different ways to make said job/activity bigger/better/grander and spend tons of time on it. {OR} If I tell myself I can have {A} cookie, I eat 10.

All or nothing.

So this year - I'm choosing nothing in three areas.

{CLOTHES}

Yep. I am not going to spend money on clothes for me or the kids. I know. That is absolutely crazy talk. And basically impossible, but y'all - they have more clothes than they need. I could probably skip laundry for 3 weeks and they wouldn't run out of things to wear. (Sans undies and shorts for Rad).  I have created some rules (not exceptions - rules sound stricter and since I am a nerdy rule follower - it works).

  • Necessities - clearly if they outgrow something like shoes, undies, pants - then I will purchase. New bathing suits for the season will have to happen. 
  • Special Occasions - Radley has his first Communion at Easter; we will be getting some Easter dresses. 
  • Gifts - But really only if they've asked for a specific item. 
But the random drive-by in Target that turns into taking out the laundry detergent, toilet paper and tampons to make room for clothes that they "need"... nope. Not gonna do it.

(And now this just popped in my head)...




{CONVENIENCE}

This is my attempt at curbing my eating out/stopping for coffee/buying that candy bar habit that adds up to big bucks. There is no need to run down Starbucks every single day for an Americana, no matter how much I need caffeine. Unless...
  • Planned in advance (lunch with friend, meeting with student)
  • Special occasion 
But even the lunch with a friend needs to be something celebratory. My friend group is aware of my goals and have been pretty darn great about supporting them. I don't mind packing a lunch and meeting them somewhere if they don't mind the weird friend that packs her lunch.


{CRAP}

No more crap. Like things from the $1 spot at Target (I know, I'm crying a little bit), a new candle (because I have an entire cabinet of unburned candles) and even that darling new coffee mug with the cute saying - I am just saying no. Exceptions? I really can't think of any. I have considered what I'm going to do for Valentine's Day and I think I'm going to get creative because the last thing my children need is another gizmo, gadget or stuffed animal.

(At one time, you could actually buy this). 


{So, then what?}

What's the purpose of all this?? Really - its because I spend too much money on SWDN (that's Katy/Cindy shorthand for SH** we don't need). I justify small purchases because they are small but I'm walking around with electric tape on a black pair of heels because I don't like spending "a lot of money."

Now that's just dumb.

I also have reinforcements... I talked to the kids about my plan and they are the best little accountability partners. I let them know that anytime I really really really really want something enough to put in my cart that I will immediately withdraw that cash and put it in our vacation jar. They were sold.

So, I'm going to try this out and see how much I can save. See how much we can do without. And really see how much we actually need. I have a feeling those answers are lots, lots and little.

I'll keep you updated on my progress - I just put $5 in the CCC envelope today because I really really really really wanted a coffee from Starbucks. See? It's totally working!



1.19.2016

We5Kings Love NYC: Day 3...

It was our last day in the city and we didn't sleep in! We couldn't because we had to hop on the train and take it all the way down to see a special lady. 


This day was 35 degrees cooler than the previous day and holy thermal underwear could you feel it! The kids had such a love/hate relationship with the weather change but they did great on that ferry and managed to still be able to bend their legs given all the layers I made them wear. 


Since we took the first ferry out, the crowd was pretty small (I'm sure the cold weather helped, too). The kids LOVED all the views of the city and couldn't wait to go exploring on the "little island". 


We kept trying to get the girls to understand how these things work but they just kept seeing their own eyeballs. Ha!


This gigantic kid, however, thought they were the coolest thing ever and kept asking for more quarters. It's an odd thing, really, to watch your babies grow into bigs. I am amazed every day by this little man and am just so honored that he's mine.


We snapped some more pics and just really enjoyed the moments of being there. 




At this point I could literally not feel my toes. Meanwhile, Landry is running around without socks on (ehm, Ryan missed the part where I said, "can you put socks on Landry before you grab her shoes?") and content as a clam. (I'm not sure how content a clam is, but I figured it's pretty happy). 

Next time we visit, I think that big kid will be as tall as me.


We couldn't have asked for a more beautiful day to see her. 


Not a cloud in the sky


We made our way around the grounds and headed inside to the museum and to visit the pedestal. 


The kids were happy to warm up and so into all the "stuff".


I loved this part of the museum - words and writings about first-time reactions of seeing Lady Liberty. I was breathless trying to think about what it must have meant to travel so many miles and feel so scared but so grateful all at once. What would these people think of us today? Would they be proud? Ashamed? Angry that we are still fighting the same oppression that they ran away from? How can we be better? Do better? Make them proud? 

Does she still hold such promise with her arms raised high? 


We made it out to the pedestal and tried to avoid falling over the edge from a wind gust - ha!



And then we climbed back on the ferry to head over to Ellis Island. The kids talked us into sitting on top of the boat and I must admit, the view from the top made that cold wind worth battling.


I had never been to Ellis Island before and I was so glad to experience something new with this crew. 


First of all - its BEAUTIFUL y'all. 

STUNNING.

The way buildings are supposed to be made. 



And wide open - not nearly as many people come here as they go to see the Statue of "Liverty" (thank you, Emmy) so we had these vast halls basically to ourselves. 



Note: I need this in my dream house. 



We twisted and turned through the hallways following the paths of the immigrants from long ago and I just loved it. I loved reading their stories and reading their words and in lots of places, HEARING their voice. (This was clearly a favorite part for the kids - Emmy and Landry were trying to talk back to the phones - ha!)


Like walking the Freedom Trail in Boston, this experience was overwhelmingly rich with history. They did a great job of making it interactive and educational and telling the stories of so many people. It wasn't too crowded or large so the kids could navigate it with ease and there were plenty of resting places to get in some extra Daddy snuggles. 





Before we knew it, we were back on top of that ferry... and heading back for our last afternoon in New York.


It was so bright they could barely open their eyes. 


And Landry kept trying to call some birds.



We took the kids to see St. Patricks Cathedral but Landry had fallen asleep so I sat in a pew while she rested and didn't take any pics of the church. (But if I'm being honest, I probably wouldn't have taken any; I get frustrated with the tourist feeling of that place of worship. I've been there during mass and people are just walking around, talking, snapping pics and it gets me so frustrated. On the other hand, the more people that visit a house of God, the better, right?) We headed home to pack, wash towels and sheets, and then made our way down three blocks for our last dinner.


We couldn't have picked a more perfect ending. The atmosphere, the service, the food, the DESSERT were the perfect endings to an amazing vacation. We just had the best time inside those walls and not one kid argued with the other, so that's like hitting a grand slam! Radley has mandated that every time we go to NYC, we eat our last dinner here. I'm thinking next week may be a good time to visit. 

:)