Family · Kids · Mommies · Stress Relief · Ulcerative Colitis

Guide to a Stress Free Start to Your Week


Adulting is time consuming & stressful but what if you could reduce your stress. Can you imagine being able to say, “I have time for that” instead of “there’s no time for that”?

I find my mind wondering to ways I can prepare myself on the weekends so that our house runs smoother during the week and reduces stress. Some evenings, I don’t get home until the boys bedtime or later so having plans made & the house in working order is a must for us when Monday rolls around.

Don’t get me wrong, I married superman but a good marriage is about teamwork and we try to be consistent when it comes to a 50/50 split. Ok, ok, I might not be so good at cleaning but I cook so it gives him energy to clean. 😉

Here’s my favorite tips on building a stress-free week.

1. Do your laundry on the weekends. Between the constant weekend errands & church & family & friends, I still find myself eager to get all the laundry washed, dried, folded or hung up before our eyes shut tight to start a new week. It gives me a sense of accomplishment!

Image result for never ending laundry basket

I think this habit started for our family when we were first married & lived in an apartment. I would rather have just bought new clothes weekly than carry ten ton laundry baskets across an apartment complex & go back again & again to check on it. Don’t ask why I didn’t just drive the baskets to the laundry room, I was younger back then.

Laundry on the weekend gives you more control over your weekday evenings & you won’t find yourself falling asleep thinking “is my favorite outfit clean?”

Tip: I have found the laundry runs much smoother when we do the kids laundry on Saturday & our laundry on Sunday. Why break it up & not just pile it? If you wash the laundry room by room, you only have one room at a time to put clothes up in. It goes much faster & there’s less chance for toddler hands to try to sweetly “help” fold things.

2. Relaxing “me” time on the weekends is a must to reduce your stress. Happy wife=happy life!

Image result for happy wife happy lifeYou can try these things to have a little “me” time:

  • Unrushed showers- You know, actutally rinse the conditioner completely out and shave!
  • New face mask- Personal fave right now is the Mary Kay Charcoal Mask.
  • File your forgotten nails- I forget this for weeks at a time. You could add this in while letting your mask dry.
  • Go to the bathroom without children barging in- Just a dream!
  • My personal fave…Tell your family your going to pick weeds from the garden so you can go enjoy mindlessly scrolling through Pinterest or your favorite blog, www.sparklewithuc.com uninterrupted, you can always pick weeds for real later. Don’t forget your cup of coffee & some sunglasses! You may be there awhile or until some tiny human sniffs you out.

Your week will run much smoother when you are less stressed which means your house will be more likely to be calm & peaceful which, lets be honest, translates into less mommy yelling & less guzzling of adult grape juice.

Glass of Wine on the Table Free Image Download

3. Grocery shop on Sunday afternoon or whichever day you choose. My children have started eating like ravenous bears before hibernation every night before bed & anytime we’re about to eat a meal. This doesn’t help me avoid the grocery store but I’m glad they’re eating something other than GoGurt & cereal bars these days.

This is momma’s dream cart, full of adult grape juice!

By shopping on the weekends you will start your week with the peace of mind that the fridge is full & ready for your little bears to snack away & eat you out of house & home. You will also know what meals you can make throughout the week so you can have meat defrosted or I know ahead of time if I need to pick up any items from the store on my way home.

4. Cash budgeters listen up. We are giving this our best shot but it doesn’t work so well if I wait until a weekday to pick money up from the bank. We have such a smooth way of talking ourselves into eating out that “just this one time” eating out without our cash turns into 2 or 3 different meals.

When your out and about on Friday (or Saturday if you have a bank that’s open on Saturdays), take out your food and gas allowance for that week. If you’re just an amazing planner, you might even be able to take out the next few weeks worth until payday hits again. That would prevent any lapse of your cash flow so you don’t have any need for your debit card.

5. Last but not least, family time. With two youngins, spending extra time with them before the crazy week begins is a must for them & us. Sunday night dinner is usually the time that we talk about what is coming up the next week between both our jobs, my oldests’ school activities and my classes. I’m soooooo ready to be finished with my master’s. 21 hrs down, 15 hrs to go!

I know that there are things that I don’t realize that I do to help reduce stress during the week but I will tell you that I have incorporated stress reduction into my daily life, fairly seamlessly.

Comment below to share your ideas for reducing your stress.

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Family · Health · Kids · Mommies · Recipes · Smoothie · Sparkle

Apple-Strawberry Popsicles

Sweet summa-time! We love summer around this joint! Pretty weather, lots of time in the swimming pool & no where to be!!!!!

So, my backyard doesn’t quite look this but a girl can dream!

Anywho, what brings me to you today is a need for popsicles. I really just need to sneak healthy in in anyway that I can so I thought why not make a nutritious popsicle for my little guys.

Another requirement was that it had to be simple so that they could help me make their treats. We chose to make apple-strawberry popsicles because Luke likes apples & Jaxson loves cutting the tops off strawberries. Definitely solid reasoning for our flavors.

I know, this is just a plain ‘ole apple. Choose whatever flavor apple you enjoy most, but the sweeter the better. You will notice a remote control monster truck in the background. That’s where baby man was sitting while he helped.

Now that looks like a few apples but you only need one per ice tray, I just sliced it crazy.

Some people might want to leave the strawberry stems & leaves for whatever reason they may have but it will give you a bitter taste so I recommend cutting the tops off of 5 strawberries. No extra chopping necessary because your Nutribullet will do the rest.

Just to let you know, affiliate links are contained in this post and if you order through the links, we receive a small percentage of your purchase at zero extra cost to you.

My absolute favorite mixing tool EVER is my NutriBullet RX! If you don’t have one, get one……..Now!!!!! (I have not been paid by Nutribullet to say that, but if you want to order one, click on the link below.) Seriously, I don’t think my life would be the same without it! In fact, Nutriblasts (Nutribullet smoothies) got me healthy enough to have baby #2 in 2014.

 

Add 1 1/2 cups of water to blend. This makes the juice semi-thick so that it freezes well. It’s not so thin it’s a juice & not so thick you have chunks. If you want fruit chunks, prepare additional strawberries to place in the ice tray before pouring. Slice the strawberries very thin so you still get a good amount of juice within each pop.

This is like staring into the abyss, the apple-strawberry, healthy, popsicle abyss! By the way, I can’t mention these are healthy to my kids because it will automatically look like liver to them so they are just non-specific popsicles. 😉

Nothing needed to prepare your ice tray. Just pour your deliciousness into the cube compartments without making a complete mess! Ok, so I may have made a big mess but it was within the ice tray so no party foul!

On that note, I have included a pic of the best way for adults to use these popsicles so read to the bottom.

The final piece to preparation is to place Saran Wrap tightly over the top of the ice cube tray & poke toothpicks into each cube for a holder. Put your tray in the freezer & go play.


After we went to the park, road bikes & had pizza, it was time! J-Ray, my oldest, was beyond impressed with our handiwork. That’s a thumbs up & a wink. He’s multitalented like his mother who is also very humble!

Luke might have fallen asleep with so much anticipation, or maybe he didn’t have a nap!

This thumbs up is for what I knew would be a glorious beverage with apple-strawberry ice cubes after the kiddos are in bed.

The absolute best part about these Popsicles is that they are all natural. Ok, maybe there’s several “best parts”.

The kids can help & they were pretty impressed at their product.

Also, they were super easy to make with a 5 minute prep time & 5 minutes from blending to freezer. The hardest part about it was waiting to try them!

So I promised that picture!

I have a giant obsession with sangria right now & I typically add fruit juice & fruit slices to my wine but these little Popsicles double as the fruit & juice. Yay!

I wait about the length of 3 Super Mario games & the cubes have melted enough to get fruity taste.

Disclaimer: I am not responsible if you poke yourself in the nose while drinking.

Entyvio · Exercise · Family · Health · Motivation · Sparkle · Stress Relief · Ulcerative Colitis · Xeljanz

Did you survive?

How did you do? Last weeks workout was pretty intense and not very time conducive to this busy momma. So, it was back to the drawing board for another workout that is more my speed. But first, pull out those tape measures and see if you lost any inches. Yay for you if you did!!!! If you didn’t, keep working!

 

Image result for you didn't put it on in a day, it won't come off in a day

 

Workout courtesy of blogilates.com.

 

Image result for thigh workout challenge

 

Now go squeeze those thighs and lose some inches!!!!!

 

Courtesy of The Workout Princess!

Colitis · Entyvio · Exercise · Family · Health · Motivation · Sparkle · Xeljanz

#11

Today is not so much about Entivyo infusion #11 going in but about the small successes in my health.

My blood dr showed me the various different iron reports that I’ve had since July 2016. I started with a 72 & it has steadily increased since my 2 Injectifer iron infusions last July. My current iron level is 88 which, according to doc, is absolutely perfect!

2 things that number means. 

1. My gut has healed dramatically since Entivyo infusion #1 on my birthday in October 2015. When a colitis patient is flairing, they lose blood, sometimes in small traces & sometimes in large amounts. In my case, it was a combination of trace & large amounts over an extended period of time. 
When I do something, I do it big!!!!! 
Over time the blood cells shrank & my iron production dropped. Once the iron infusions kicked in, the circumference of my blood cells grew increasing my iron levels to the perfect level it is today!

2. Iron makes all the difference in my world. 

* I have energy to play with my boys that I didn’t have at this time last year. 

* I have reached (& exceeded) the amount of weight I needed to put back on after my year long flair. 

* I don’t feel like I need a morning & afternoon nap everyday, just on the weekends & only because I like snoozing with the baby man & not because I’m falling down exhausted. 

*We just finished basketball season & im ready for track without feeling like I need a break. 

*I feel like exercising again & I try to do something active daily. 
I could go on & on about how I have drastically improved but I’ll let pictures do some talking.

January 2016

January 2017

 

My face is fuller! My skin has color to it, without being out in the sun! I see more energy in my eyes or maybe a twinkle of orneriness! I just look (& feel) so much more human!

I didn’t get sick over night. Well, actually, the HPylori that brought out the colitis was fast acting but the disease itself has been ongoing since 2012. To think realistically, it has taken more time to heal than it did to hit the bottom. I remember Chad asking me one day when I was weak & bone skinny if I was dying & he was very serious. Slowly over time, I have healed & this phrase rings true. 

It may not happen as fast as we want but God’s timing is always fabulous! I like to think I can sparkle even in the dark times but God is the one who makes the sparkle shine in the dark.

Family · Motivation · Sparkle

Nothing Says Coffee…

coffee-lorelei-gmg

Today is an in-service day but tomorrow, spring semester starts. The next 8 days will be busy busy busy! Momming and wifing, 2 basketball games and 1 basketball tournament, lesson planning, teaching, starting a weight loss challenge, preparing for spring semester and my next 6 hours towards my masters.

Pretty sure I forgot to mention my fall semester 4.0!!! That is 12 hours down and 24 hours to go. By then end of spring semester, I will be half way finished. Who knows what I will do next!

So I may have binge watched the new episodes of Gilmore Girls on Netflix over Christmas break so you can expect my favorite GMG quotes popping up in the near future.

Have a fabulous Monday & don’t forget to sparkle!

sparkle-and-shine-darling

Christmas · Colitis · Entyvio · Family · Xeljanz

Infusion #10 Going In

I took Enbrel for 5ish years & Humira for 3ish years. (Don’t you just love my accuracy there 😉). Well, never in those 8ish years did I ever get over the fact that I had to give myself a shot every week, in my thighs, that were very knotted from years of medicine. I still don’t like needles but I’m all in favor of my 8 week needle! It contains the necter of the Entivyo gods & man-o-man is it some amazing stuff!

Today is infusion #10! I fee like I’ve hit some kind of milestone. I’ve been on E for 419 days, but who’s counting. Last year at this time I was having my last loading dose & wondering if this drug could be my miracle or if it was just another step towards eliminating all my options before I had to have the ultimate option of colon removal. 


I’m beyond happy to report, typically every 8 weeks when I infuse, that I feel amazing! Someone who’s just met me might even think I was normal! Don’t be fooled though, it’s always in the back of my mind & I pray that it stays in the back where it belongs!

This time of year, thankfulness & blessings are on the forefront of our minds. I am beyond thankful for my infusion center, Texas Oncology, they are amazing everytime I come in. Everything always runs smoothly & they know me by name now. 

Today, the other patients & I were serenaded by carollers in the infusion room. Christmas is still about Christ no matter what the liberals try to push on America & they sang all my favorites. Away In a Manger, Joy to the World, We Wish You a Merry Christmas & of course Silent Night. Christmas is my favorite time of year!!!

If you’re still reading because my Christmas beliefs haven’t driven you away, have a very magical Christmas season & a happy New Year! I will be saying extra thank you prayers for another holiday season with my trusty old colon!

🎅🏼 MERRY CHRISTMAS! 🎅🏼

Colitis · Entyvio · Family · Health · Teacher Corner

The Countdown

I am officially ready for 2 weeks out of school!!! Let me catch you up on this semester at school which would not have run so smooth if my gut wasn’t happy.

It has been a little while since I taught Texas history so when there were some personnel changes at school, I was moved back to 7th grade classes. Ahhhhhhh! I love Texas history but I really, really, really enjoy teaching early US History because I can relate it to my semi-annual trip to Washington D.C. with 20ish hormonal, crazy, sweet & salty teenagers. I don’t mind the move because I have taught it before & just dove in head first. I just feel like my brain has not caught back up after the transition so a 2 week break is more than welcome. 


My 2 volleyball teams both won district championships!!! That is 3 in a row for this proud coach! 🏆

We are in a tough basketball district & one of my teams is 5 & 0, pulling out a nice final game before Christmas break last night!

I love what I do! I don’t even consider it work but I’m looking forward to family, my babies & my husband without anywhere to be in the evenings or any homework to do.


Speaking of homework, this was my peaceful view after a wacky weekend. I stared at the Christmas tree while I was trying to write my 2nd final paper of the day on Sunday & it must have given me inspiration because I finished it & my lesson plans faster than I usually finish just my lesson plans. Now I am just waiting on my grades. This semester was a tough workload but I survived. What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger! I am 33% of the way towards my masters degree!


Overall, my gut would generally react poorly to so much going on & so much extra stress but enter Entivyo stage left! This medicine, coupled with Xeljanz, has been a life changer for me! Before these all stars came along, even small stress stressed me beyond anything my gut could handle, but I am happy to report, I have not experienced any symptoms of colitis at all!!!!!!

So, with all that being said, the countdown to December 22nd begins! I am sooooo ready for crackling fires, baking goodies, Christmas movies with the boys, no homework for me or Jaxson, no games to play, time with my family & my hubbys’, no where to be & no stinkin alarm set! Merry Christmas to me!!!!! & happy Christmas season to you all!! May your stress be low & may you experience awesome blessings this holiday season.

Colitis · Entyvio · Family · Health · Recipes

Maple-Spiced Walnuts

A nutty recipe just in time for Christmas gatherings! The holidays might make me a little nutty but these 2 can usually save my day! Read past the cuteness for the newest recipe from The Quiet Gut.


Pecans, walnuts, macadamia, almonds, pistachios, hazelnuts, cashews, peanuts, pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, sunflower seeds, pine nuts, flax seeds. What’s your favorite?

I typically lean towards pecans because my parents have 2 huge pecan trees in their backyard that produces more pecans than I can eat in my lifetime & boy are they delish! For this recipe however, I stuck with the walnuts & I’ve got to tell you, walnuts aren’t just for baking! They’ve now made my top 3 list!

I made these Maple-Spiced Walnuts for Thanksgiving at my in-laws house. They just sounded like a holiday snack.

Here’s my OCD ingredient gathering at its best 😉

I also apparently enjoy staring at separated spices. Now you see them….

Now you don’t!

Since you’ve gathered all your ingredients & mixed your yummo spices,  your safe to start the liquids warming in your large skillet. Don’t scrimp on skillet size or you won’t be able to coat the walnuts properly & the seasoning is so good you’ll want them covered!

Combine the maple syrup, olive oil (I prefer to use EVOO) & water, heating for 5 minutes.

Add the walnuts & make sure to coat in the liquid before you start dropping your magic seasoning on top. Once you’ve thoroughly coated your walnuts, allow them to hang out & brown in the pan for approximately 3ish mins. I say ish because my started to scorch by 2:30 mins.

Promptly lay your  deliciousness out on a pan lined with parchment paper (or foil, because that’s all I had & it didn’t stick) so the nuts can cool & you can admire your handy work!

So, what did the family have to say about the Maple-Spiced Walnuts? One family member said that it was spicy but good. On the spice front, my family & Chad’s family have a different taste for spice. My dad likes ghost pepper salsa so cayenne would probably have been better for Christmas at my parents.

My opinion of the walnuts, remove the coriander & use more sugar, salt & cumin. I also would add additional liquid so the chances of scorching are lower.

Overall, I would rate this recipe a 5 but the small changes I mentioned could bump it up to “Christmas at my parents house” status.

Family

Mountain Weekend

When I get to see the beauty created by God, I think of these words.

We love the mountains and our time away from the craziness we call life! A 3 day weekend is too short but the mountains keep calling us anyway. Being on top of the mountains makes you feel like you could reach out & touch heaven. I believe God made mountains so you can feel closer to him.


Red River has become one of my favorite places to be. It’s beauty is unending & the family time is priceless!

We rode the ski lift with babyman #1.


At the top the clouds were so fluffy!!!


A little fishing with babyman #2. With every question he was asked he would answer “I fishin!”. You hungry Luke? No, I fishin!


Rode go carts.

Enjoyed meals with the family or sometimes wondering when we’ll be able to eat out without the babies stressing us out. 

Listening to the river running as we talk around the fire. 

Walking around downtown & shopping. 

Peaceful afternoon rain showers while Luke & I take a nap. 

Well, you get the picture…AMAZING trip! Until we meet again Red River.