Sunday, June 18, 2017

Happy Father's Day

He provides for his family, plays with the kids, lays down the law, leads, fixes, plans, budgets, gets gas, gets water, takes out the trash, assembles, labors and still puts God first.
He is the warrior, the fighter, the front-liner and sacrifices time, money and sleep to ensure all our needs are met. He’s the first to rise and the last to sleep and he makes the hard decisions, walks the fine line and faces the world with a fierce drive to do what’s right, even when it’s not the popular choice.
He’s an avid reader, the world’s best take-out delivery driver and the softest place to fall when the day is just too hard. He cradles her heart in his hands, carefully tending and loving, even when she is hard to love. He makes the world’s most perfect cup of coffee and is the most comfortable pillow at night.
His words soothe, his hands heal and his arms protect. His faith is unshakable and his determination, unmatched. He doesn’t back down, doesn’t let up, doesn’t quit and never stops trying. When the odds are against him, he digs deeper and reaches farther.
He’s fun, fair, honest, sweet, gentle, motivated, tough, faithful, just, sincere, kind and discerning.

Dad to four. Brother to ten. Cherished son. Beloved uncle. Treasured friend. My husband. My love.

Happy Father’s day to all the men in your life. What would we do without them?? Spoil them today!

"The righteous man walks in his integrity; His children are blessed after him." Proverbs 20:7

Thursday, June 15, 2017

A Reason to Celebrate

So I've been on this new health and exercise kick for oh, I don't know, three whole days when I decided that my kids and I need to make a fancy layer cake! Right away! Inspired by a cooking-themed show my kids were watching, (pathetic, I know but if you've ever watched "Just Add Magic" on Amazon, you'll completely understand!) I was inspired to make a beautiful and delicious creation of my own. But, being that there are only four members living in the Doña household, I needed to be prepared to share so it got me thinking...Father's day is this week and what dad wouldn't like a huge slice of blueberry and lemon goodness?? Crazy ones, that's who! I considered a few options (tiramisu, my hubby's fave but no bueno for kids, cookies n' cream but my son can't eat chocolate...) before settling on a lemon cream cake with blueberries. Sweet and tangy, light and fluffy...perfect for summer! So I got started! Now, if you are a hard core from-scratch baker, I take my hat off to you. I personally use cake mixes with no shame (even for my wedding cake!!) because they are fool-proof, easy and consistent but there are endless ways to make them your own. For this cake, I used two yellow cake mixes, about a cup of blueberries and three lemons. If you don't have four round cake pans, you'll have to bake in two batches. In two of the pans, swirl in blueberry puree made with a little water and 1/2 cup blueberries, blended. In the other two, mix in the juice and zest of two lemons. Bake until done then ice with cream cheese frosting and top with the remaining lemon, sliced and blueberries. You can really go to down with decorating but I kept it simple. I used store bought frosting and a gallon zip-lock bag cut to do the piping on the cake. Before you know it, you'll have your very own fancy dessert, the perfect addition to your Father's Day meal, brunch, tea party or for a sweet treat anytime! Tip: It tastes best with a cup of coffee after kiddos are in bed! 

Monday, June 12, 2017

Dinner is Served

Being that it's:
a) summertime and my kids are home for a lot more meals and snacks now
b) I'm trying to muster the motivation to get a hard body for summer (I'll give you a moment to lyao...) cause it's a little late for THAT...
c) I need crowd pleasing meals that will serve well as leftovers for hubby...
I decided it's once again time for a diet overhaul! I've done this many times and it's a simple plan, really. I've realized that more often than not, I've been reaching for easy snacks and meals (mac n' cheese, frozen pizza, packaged crackers and chips...) instead of what I should be feeding my family so a diet redo is in the works at the Casa Doña!
First, I have stocked up on healthy but quick items that will be easy to throw together in a hurry but that are tasty and satisfying. A few of my favorite things to munch on are carrots and hummus, apple slices with peanut butter, cheese and crackers (whole-grain, please. Those yummy, buttery Ritz ain't gonna help a mama out...) and the almighty smoothie. I love how it feels to whip up a healthy smoothie or protein shake in the morning and waltz into work sippin' away as if it's just the norm. Well, I want it to be. So with a few ingredients, you can make smoothies anytime. I make mine with variations of the following: frozen berries, bananas, 100% fruit juice, greek yogurt, chocolate protein powder (hubby's fave) and sometimes peanut butter.
Once you have snacking in order, it's time to pull out the big guns for dinner. Now, my family has come a looooong way as far as being picky goes because my kids know they gotta eat their veggies. BUUUUUUT, I have a bad habit of cooking high-carb, calorie rich dishes like cheesy chicken enchilada casserole with rice and beans, lasagna with garlic bread and pizza anytime. Seriously. It's just that those meals feed us all, make great leftovers and are super tasty but not so good for any of our waistlines.
So here are a few things I decided to add to my repertoire--crock pot meals that are high protein...think, roasted pork with carrots and onions and chicken cacciatore over brown rice, big salads with chicken and veggies and breakfasts that start with eggs and oatmeal rather than cinnamon rolls and cereal.
I know it may seem hard at first but after a trip to the market and a fridge full of healthy options, it really does become a habit and kind of fun! Once you see your family getting into shape and enjoying healthy meals that you are responsible for preparing, you will begin to look forward to cooking again!
Once you got that down, start taking care of you. Take a walk with the kiddos, a swim in the pool or carve out just twenty minutes for a quickie workout! I know it's busy for all us mamas but you deserve to feel your best!  Here's to a healthy summer!

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Go Play!

Day one of summer and I predict the kids are going to give me more than I bargained for. It's been a long day, long and we're just beginning. What began as a mellow day hitting up Target then meeting a friend for lunch and a little playtime action is turning into the longest day ever.
I took them in the pool, watched a movie with them and even took them to the Cheesecake Factory for a late afternoon treat (yes, that was for me.) It's not quite dinnertime and the kids seemed to have found some little friends to play with. Great. But now every five minutes they're barging in the door ("Shut it behind you! The AC is running!") for "props" for a movie their filming. "Mommy, where's that eye patch? You know the one I needed the other night when I was being dramatic and had something in my eye??" Of course, that one. Junk drawer, kiddo. Junk drawer.
It's always a plus when kids come up with activities on their own but do you notice that in the end it just creates more work for you?? Some examples:
Kinetic sand ("Mommy, look what I found under my bed!") then five minutes later, they're bored and don't feel like helping sweep it all up off the floor.
Legos. Enough said.
Play-Doh. Again...enough said.
Slime. Yes, I did this because I am a crazy person and for kicks and giggles, felt like trucking my kids to Michaels to spend about $18 on supplies for some "slime" that turned into hockey pucks and got left on the patio table within about five minutes and sat their until their dad forced them to clean the remnants of. (sorry, honey!)
Swimming, going to Barnes and Noble, going to buy Pokemon cards, playing "airport" (yes, I'm the genius who thought of that but then..."Who is going to play the ticket agent, Mommy?? Because there are only two of us and WE can't be the ticket agent.."), charades, puzzles, ice cream shop, you name it. The fun only begins when Mommy is sitting cross-legged on the floor on the action or shelling out loads of money. So I declare coloring time. Or reading. Or writing a story quietly.  Or napping. You MUST be tired from running around, right??
So the next time you hear the words "I'm bored" or "What should I do??" the answer is this-- go play, dear children, go play. Sometimes being bored is the perfect catalyst for the best, most imaginative games and if you're one of those mommies like me who feel guilt every time you sit down or enjoy a moment to yourself, knock it off. Eventually the guilt monsters will leave you alone.

Saturday, May 27, 2017

Summertime Blues

So  you know how the term "summertime blues" refers to the end of the long, lazy, carefree days of summers as a kid? When we dreaded being thrown back to the wolves of school, homework and after school activities? Because it was just so much fun to ride bikes all day, run around barefoot and eat nothing but popsicles and top ramen?
Well, what's the opposite of that? Because I have this sense of dread that the summer is beginning and I have a whole 10 WEEKS to fill with the kiddos home. Under foot. Hungry and bored. It's enough to make any loving mother reach for the vodka. But then...
As I relaxed by the pool this afternoon, leisurely reading while the kiddos splashed around, I began to think that maybe, just maybe the kids are now old enough to really enjoy the summer ahead. So I decided to look on the bright side and came up with a few reasons why summer is going to be great!
Trips to Target
Trips to Michaels (Michael's? Apostrophes get me every time...)
Trips to Ikea
Trips to the mall
I know what you're thinking..."Why on earth would you want to bring two rugrats along on a peaceful shopping trip?"
Glad you asked.
First of all, I don't hit the Target snack bar alone. It just feels wrong and like I'm a fatty and all pathetic because even though I just ate lunch before leaving the house to run errands, the $2 popcorn and soda combo call my name. Every time. But add your kiddos to the mix and it's like Slurpee? Sure. Hot dog? Of course. Lunch at Target today! While you sit and much away, read that book (that we're going to put back at the end, obviously) I'll browse. New curtains? Check. Towels? Check. Brightly colored throw pillows and a new rug that scream summer? Check and check. (Hubby, if you're reading this, those are the same throw pillows from last year. They just look different.)
Summer is a time to catch up on all those projects you've been meaning to do and now that you have extra helpers, time to begin! Bust out your cookbook and try a new recipe or plug in that sewing machine and teach your kids how to use it.
Also, no wake up time! You don't have to drag sleepy kiddos out of bed, dress them, feed them, get their backpacks ready and get them to the car in record time. They can get themselves up and help themselves to some cartoons and cereal. While mommy sleeps.
Fourth of July, picnics, road trips, Thrifty ice cream cones, long days in the sun reading, 7-11, Netflix when it's too hot to go outside, the beach, Grandma's house, and last but definitely not least...kiddos crashing early because they are so spent that you finally, blessedly have time on the patio (or couch or bed or anywhere...) with hubby. Enjoy.

Monday, May 22, 2017

Catch up

I've been away from this blog for a while, busy raising kids, working full-time and gasp! getting divorced then re-married to my real-life prince charming. I've kicked some butt, taken some names, given up liquor (sigh...) spent many fun-filled days in the sun with my kiddos watching them grow. I've learned about life, love and have finally found my voice at 33...took long enough.
So I'm back to encourage you and give you some stories that will make you laugh, cry or just get you through the day, or until dinnertime at least. I know that with the demands of motherhood, wifehood (is that a word?) and finding time for ME is enough to make my head spin most days.
But then I get real and I get a hubby who lifts the heavy loads when I can't, to my dishwasher, crock-pot, and to adorable kiddos with missing teeth and tiny tushies, to fresh coffee with creamer when something a little stronger is really in order, to take-out, to Netflix and of course the most important, to the LORD my bff who has seen me through the last heart-wrenching couple of years. I'm back and better than ever. Won't you join me on this crazy ride through life???