Wednesday, April 26, 2017

What's Up Wednesday



Hey friends! It's been a while since I've participated in this link up! It's always a fun one so I'm back at it this month!

1. What we're eating this week: 
Monday night I made crockpot burrito bowls. Tuesday I made this recipe but used spaghetti squash and it was amazing! Wednesday will be leftover. Thursday I'm leaving for a weekend so I'm sure the boys will have frozen pizza and then they are headed to the beach with my inlaws for the weekend. Patrick will have to fend for himself haha

2. What I'm reminiscing about:
I'm still thinking about our trip to Disney. I swear I've been missing it since the day we left. I can't wait to go back and if my hubs would let me I'd go yearly! 


3. What I'm loving:
I love that my boys are finally playing together. Like really playing. Yesterday I was fixing supper in the kitchen and they were having the best time playing in the den. Making each other laugh, chasing after each other. It really warms my hear to see them actually playing! 



4. What we've been up to:
Not a lot! Its been a rainy week so we've been playing inside. Last week was spring break and other than going to Defy Gravity we didn't do much of anything.

5. What I'm dreading: 
Getting rid of the paci! I know it needs to be done but I just can't bring myself to do it. Jack is SO beyond attached to it. It's going to be torture for all of us and I"m just not ready to deal with no naps and hard nighttime sleep. 

6. What I'm working on: 
Organizing and cleaning my upstairs! I've got to go through my closet and donate at least half! Anyone else have clothes that they never wear but can't seem to get rid of? 

7. What I'm excited about: 
I am headed to see my college bestie on Thursday. She just had her second baby girl and I can't wait to meet her! Friday I'm headed to a lake house with all my high school besties! It's going to be such a fun weekend. We haven't all been together in quite some time. It'll be great to have girl time with no hubbies or kids!


8. What I'm watching: 
A lot of Trolls and Moana. And when I'm not watching that I'm watching RHNYC, RHOC, and I'm so excited Pretty Little Liars just came back on for their final 10 episodes! 



9. What I'm listening to: 
Moana soundtrack! It's really so good so I don't mind! I'm also listening to some podcasts. Chalene Johnson has some great health and fitness ones and they are super motivating and informative! 


10. What I'm wearing: 
If I'm not wearing my go to athleta workout skorts then I'm wearing white jeans and a swing tee, or a swing dress from old navy. 

11. What I'm doing this weekend: 
See #7 

12. What I'm looking forward to next month: 
My whole family is getting together for Memorial Weekend and to celebrate my dad's 70th birthday. It should be a really fun weekend! 

Linking up with Mix and Match Mama

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Crockpot Baked Ziti

Last Wednesday we celebrated my MIL's birthday. We had them over for supper. I wanted to do something fairly easy to throw together. A pasta bake is always my go to. I had heard from a friend that she did a baked ziti in the crockpot and it turned out great, so I figured I would give it a try!

I searched pinterest for a recipe and found this one. I have adapted the recipe some based on our preferences.

I am nor every will I be a food blogger...so my pictures are nothing spectacular, but this recipe is the bomb!

 Ingredients:

* 1 Lb ground beef (chicken or turkey will do as well!)
* 2 jars marinara sauce (I used Rao's tomato basil, by far my favorite!)
* 1 box penne noodles (uncooked!)
* shredded mozzarella cheese
* shredded parmesan cheese
* 1 16 oz container ricotta cheese (not pictured)
* Italian seasoning


Steps: 

* Brown the beef 
* Spray your crockpot with Pam, or use one of those handy liners! (I actually remembered to use one this time, makes cleanup so easy) 
* One the beef is browned drain the fat and add one jar of sauce into the pan 
* In a separate bowl combine ricotta and italian seasoning 
* add some of the meat sauce to the bottom of your crockpot 
* next add 1/3 of the UNCOOKED noodles 
* top the noodles with 1/2 of the ricotta mixture
* sprinkle mozzarella on top of ricotta
* repeat these steps layering sauce, noodles, ricotta ending with the sauce on top. I added in about 1/2-3/4 of the second jar of sauce in with my layers of sauce. 
* Cook on low for 2- 3 hours ( I did about 2 1/2 hours) 
* 30 minutes prior to serving top with mozzarella and parmesan cheese. It will melt and get super gooey! 








Of course I forgot to take a picture of the final product until after we had eaten about half of it! It came our so good, the noodles were not soggy and a perfect consistency! 



This was super easy to throw together, I did it all during nap time. It makes a lot so will be perfect for a crowd or to have leftovers throughout the week. We served it with some french bread and I would usually do a salad but I forgot to get it at the grocery store. 



*Linking up with Beth and The Blended Blog




Friday, April 21, 2017

Friday Favorites

Happy Fri-YAY!!! First of all, thank ya'll so much for all of your sweet comments on my post yesterday. If I convinced one person to get a skin check then my point of sharing my story is complete!

My favorites from this week...

O N E | For Jacks birthday one of his friends gave him several board games. At the time I didn't want to play them because I knew there would be a lot of pieces and Graham would be all into them. The other day Jack found one of them and begged to play. I'm so glad we did. Mouse Trap is such a fun game and really easy. We've had a great time playing it after Graham goes to bed. It does have two marbles as part of the game so I don't like to have those out when Graham is awake.


T W O | We celebrated my mother in laws birthday Wednesday night. Graham was really into the cake, which should be no surprise if you saw his ice cream pic from last week haha.




T H R E E | Jack needed some new shoes for Church and a friend had recommended these polo loafers. I laughed so hard when he put them on last night. He was so excited and even said "this is the best day ever!" It was a total dad outfit.


F O U R | Date night! My inlaws asked if the boys could spend the night tonight which we happily said yes. So we have a kid free night! I'm most excited about sleeping all night without any little people in my bed. Jack has gotten SO bad about getting in our bed every. single. night and its really wearing on me. If you have any suggestions on how to stop this, I need all the help I can get!

F I V E | These boys have started playing so well together. Graham has started randomly going up to Jack and hugging him. It's the sweetest thing and I finally caught it on camera!


S I X |  Ya'll, I finally reached 1,000 followers on Instagram!! It seems like it's taken forever to get to this number. Thank you to each one of you that follow me, I love interacting with each of you!


I hope you have a great weekend, aside from our date night we will be planting some hydrangeas we recently got and thats about it! Jack and I are also headed to defy gravity with some friends this morning. The last day of spring break!

*Linking up with Andrea, April and Katie

Thursday, April 20, 2017

My Skin Cancer Journey

A few months ago I shared a personal post about living with Crohn's Disease. I had so many sweet comments about it and appreciated them so much! Well, as if one disease isn't enough I'm here to share with you why I feel SO SO passionate about getting yearly skin checks and wearing sunblock.

Warning...this is long. I have never written this out before, nor have I really talked about it.

Let me take you back to the summer of 2008. I was in summer school at Appalachian State, having just finished my Senior year and headed into my final year as a Senior (yes it took me 5 years to graduate). I decided to make an appointment with a local dermatologist to have a full body scan. I have always been pretty mole-y and burn easily. I've had a few severe sunburns in the past that resulted in blisters. I was never an avid tanning bed goer but had been probably 5 times throughout the course of my life (I was 22).

I went into the appointment not expecting much of anything. Just reassurance that my moles looked fine and there was nothing suspicious on my body. She gave me a look over and found one mole that was on the side of my left breast that she didn't like the looks of. It was tiny, but oblong shaped. She did a punch biopsy and reassured me that it was nothing to worry about.

I left the appointment and went about my day. I didn't even think twice about the mole she removed. Fast forward a few days and I had just gotten on the bus back to my apartment. For some reason the cell towers were out and I was not getting any incoming phone calls. I looked down and had a voicemail from the doctors office asking for me to call them back. I immediately called and the receptionist connected me with the nurse who asked me to come right into the office. It was about 445 and I thought it was weird that the nurse said the doctor was going to wait for me (knowing that the office closed at 5). At this point I'm starting to freak out. I couldn't get ahold of my mom so I called my sister and my best friend. Both assured me that it was nothing serious. Although, in my mind I knew differently.

I got to the doctors office and was immediately taken back to the doctor. I don't remember much of this conversation except for her telling me that the biopsy showed that the mole was a melanoma. Of course the only thing going through my head at this point was "I have cancer'. I immediately burst into tears, I couldn't think, I couldn't even comprehend what she was telling me. How was I a seemingly healthy 22 year old just diagnosed with this. I tried to call my mom but she wouldn't answer. She was in the middle of a movie. I just kept calling and calling because I needed the doctor to explain to her what was going on. Finally my mom answered and I just handed the phone to the sweet doctor who went over all the details with my mom and what she had planned for me as far as treatment.

By the time I drove back to my apartment my mom and dad had already been in contact with all of their doctor friends in Charlotte and had me in with a highly recommended surgeon. At this point I felt numb, I drove down to my best friends house to spend the night. It was too late for me to head to Charlotte. I was an emotional wreck but managed to get through the night.

I can't remember if I went to Charlotte the next day or a few days after. At some point I made it to Charlotte. My mom and I met with the surgeon who decided that they would do a sentinel node biopsy  to determine if the cancer had spread into this lymph node and beyond.

I don't remember a ton about this surgery other than before the surgey started they injected this blue dye into my lymph nodes. The dye would travel and some how they could see which nodes were affected. Y'all, this was by far the most painful thing I have ever experienced. Worse than childbirth. That dye burned so badly, I remember squeezing the nurses hand (my mom couldn't be in there with me while they injected it) so hard that I thought it was going to break.

During the surgery the doctor removed the sentinel node as well as a few others that were affected but the cancer had not spread and was contained within these few lymph nodes. All the praise hands!! The recover was rough, I couldn't lift my left arm for quite some time. We were ecstatic that they had gotten it all and there was no further treatment needed!

I was to be followed closely by a dermatologist as well as my surgeon for a few years post surgery. After I graduated from App and moved to Raleigh I was connected with an amazing Dermatologist at UNC. She specializes in melanoma, and only sees patients that have had it. Since 2009 I have been going to her every 6 months. She does a complete body scan. I have pictures that were made on my first visit and she is able to compare the photos to my current moles.

Over the course of these years I have had more moles than I care to count removed. By the grace of God none of them have been melanoma! I have had several pre-cancerous ones removed and I tend to err on the side of "take it off if you have even the slightest suspicion". These are the scars that I see on my stomach, back, and everywhere in-between that are a constant reminder what I have been through.

My original dermatologist believes that the tanning bed was probably the culprit of the melanoma, which goes to show that even just a handful of visits can be deadly! I am more cautious than ever about wearing sunblock, hats, and staying out of the sun whenever possible. As much as my dermatologist would like for me to live under a rock and not see sunlight, that is not possible. I still want to live my life! I am just cautious. My boys will wear rash guards 99% of the days we spend at the pool/beach and I lather them with SPF. Of course, I still get an occasional sunburn, which makes me so mad at my self, but for the most part "being tan" is not in my vocabulary. I have learned to embrace pale!

Just two days ago (Tuesday) I went for my biyearly skin check. I always get massive anxiety at these appointments and this time was no different. Much to my surprise, I did not have one new or suspicious mole! I was so shocked that I literally squealed and said "are you sure?". This was the first time in as long as I can remember that I have not had something removed!


If you take anything away from this post I hope that it is to wear sun block! Skin cancer can happen to anyone and anywhere! Being tan is not worth the risk no matter how good you think it makes you look. And we all know "tanned fat looks better than pale fat" hahaha.

*Linking up with Annie and Danielle

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Easter Weekend

Whew I needed a day to recover from the weekend, and I still don't think I'm fully recovered! Something about a holiday and it just wears me out!

On Friday Jack and I went to this awesome bird park with two other friends. It's about an hour away and I was able to put all 3 car seats in my car so the 6 of us could ride together. I really had no expectations as to what this would be like, I figured if it were a dud we would leave and call it a day. We arrived and were pleasantly surprised at how fun it was!




It was like a zoo, but with only birds. You could walk right into the caged areas and get up close and personal with them. The kids really had fun. There was one that was making the funniest sound and the boys started to imitate it and the bird started talking back to them. They thought it was the funniest thing  and hearing their little giggles were so cute.






We walked around the park and ended in the area where you can feed the birds. You purchase a popsicle stick that has bird seed on it and you hold your hand out and the birds come right to you. I was worried Jack would be afraid but he loved it!







After we finished there we headed to lunch and then made our way back home, just in time for nap time!

Friday night we ordered pizza and Patrick and Jack watched Kung Fu Panda.

Saturday morning Graham and I went and picked up donuts. After breakfast we all went and ran a few errands and then home for naps! I knew we were having brunch at our house for Easter and wanted to sit in the dining room so I decided to go ahead and set the table while the boys napped, knowing that Sunday morning would be crazy and if I didn't do it then it'd never get done.





Saturday night our friends came over for dinner. We made ribs and the boys played outside, it was great weather and a fun night!

Sunday morning was of course crazy! The boys opened their Easter baskets and then I was running around trying to get the house picked up and get Jack and I ready for church. Patrick decided to stay home with Graham, since we knew he would cry the whole time in nursery, and that way he could get brunch started so it would be ready by the time we got home from church!










After church our best friends came over for brunch! We sort of have a tradition of doing this every year. The kids had a little egg hunt after we ate and then everyone went down for nap!










After naps Patricks parents came over to give the boys the Easter baskets they had for them! They stayed and played outside for awhile.





Sunday evening was low key and I was ready for bed by 9!

It was a great Easter Sunday!

*linking up with Beth and Erkia