An Attitude of Gratitude

One thing I believe in wholeheartedly is living your life with an attitude of gratitude.  Our society, thanks largely in part to social media, has created a culture of dissatisfaction sprinkled with some envy that leaves people wanting more and making choices that are not always wise and best for their current situation. We fail to look at everything we have around us, all of our blessings, small and large; focusing only on what we don’t have that others do.

It can be hard to change a mindset that you have been been living in for such a long time. I totally get that. It takes time and intention to reverse your thoughts to truly love your life and find gratitude in everything.  One way I have found incredibly impactful is keeping a gratitude journal.  A gratitude journal can be as simple or as complicated as you want it to be.  Here are a few options:

  1. Grab a cute blank journal at Target and write 3-5 things you’re grateful for at the beginning or end of each day.
  2. If you are already journaling add your 3-5 items to your current daily journal entry.
  3. Get an adorbs gratitude journal like the one pictured.  You can find them at any bookstore, Amazon, etc.  (This is my preference and I purchased the pictured one through Amazon.)

Your gratitude items do not need to be huge.  Certainly they can be, but not necessary.  One day could read as easy as “I’m grateful for a cup of fresh hot coffee, the birds I hear through my window when I wake up, and Grey’s Anatomy.”

You won’t see an instant change, like everything it will take some time and intentionality.  With consistency you will notice a change in your heart and attitude towards life.   So stop looking at everyone’s highlight reel on social media and start paying more attention to what you have around you.  I know you can and I know you will be so much happier for it.

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Michael Goes to Therapy

This past week was Michael’s first therapy session.  I was so nervous for like two days before it I couldn’t stand it.  I don’t even know why!  I guess no one thinks it’s quite “normal” to take a 5 year old to therapy and most parents never think they will need to take their young one to therapy but I felt it was best to be proactive rather than reactive.  So what I didn’t envision until the teen years jumped ahead a bit.

I did a lot of research to find someone who has worked with the type of scenarios we are working through and was thankfully able to find someone close to home.  I explained to Michael we were going to talk to a nice person to help us make sure we are doing all we can to ensure his happiness.  I reminded him that Patrick had to go to therapy a lot, which he certainly remembers, so he would realize there are different types of therapy and everyone needs help sometimes.  Mommy and Daddy have been to therapy too!

Donned in his new favorite black sequin jeans and his fave pink zip up hoodie with black cats we entered this new season.  Michael is so perceptive and in tune with things.  I knew that no matter what I said he was going to be nervous and unsure.  Thankfully he was still willing to talk but the fidgeting!  Oh the fidgeting.  He was rubbing the sequins back and forth on his pants so much I’m amazed they didn’t all fall off.  Once he was a little more comfortable he dove into the small toy box in the corner and played with everything no matter what it was.  I wanted so bad just to tell him to be still but I am sure he was so nervous and didn’t need a mom nag on top of it.

After we talked some about our concerns and why we were seeking therapy and the therapist got to know Michael a little we stepped out of the room so she could have one on one time with him.  At first Michael was scared but I was so proud of him for being so brave and willing to let mom and dad leave the room.  When we were invited back in she told us that he certainly opened up more when we were gone.  I was a little sad that he wouldn’t say some of the things to us but I’m so happy that at  least he’s talking to someone!  That’s the whole point of this right?  He started opening up about some kids at school who are not very nice to him.  Our biggest fear come to light.  She didn’t elaborate much and I’m sure it’s because she wants to build up that trust with him, I get it.  As we go we will learn more.  Baby steps.

She is going to work on coping skills with him and keep tabs on what’s going on at school and his feelings.  It’s not a situation where he needs to go every week, probably a couple times a month for now.  We just want him to have a safe space.  We want to be ahead of anything that may come up.  We want to know how to handle things as they do come up.  We want to be guided in the best way to handle family and friends who are less than supportive.  He is my beautiful sparkle boy and I do not want anyone to dull his shine.

 

National School Breakfast Week

One of my all-time favorite quotes is from the ever inspiring Dale Hayes in the world of childhood hunger and nutrition.  “When students are listening to their hungry stomach they are not listening to their teachers.”  This resonates.  Think about when you get hungry, so hungry that it’s all you can think about.  Imagine an 8 year old child sitting in class who didn’t have breakfast that morning, they may not have even had dinner or if they did it wasn’t much to speak of.  All they can think of is when is lunch coming.  Not because they are bored, or want to play, or just don’t want to sit in class anymore; because their little tummy will not stop grumbling and they know a full hot meal is waiting for them.

School breakfast helps to solve this problem.  Many do not realize that school breakfast is part of the lunch program.  The same one that offers free or reduced price meals to children also provides breakfast (and in some cases afterschool snack or dinner but we’ll save that for another day).  Unfortunately many schools still do not support this program.  Whether it be cost, labor, stigma, unsupportive faculty, or lack of initiative there are a host of excuses.

National School Breakfast Week allows us to thank those who work so hard to make sure no child is hungry in the morning and is ready to learn.  After all, breakfast is the most important meal of the day isn’t it?  NSBW also allows us to bring focus to the work that still needs to be done.  We need to turn excuses into possibilities and help schools bring breakfast to more students on a daily basis.  The importance of breakfast has been proved time and again through an infinite number of studies, there should not be a question or a reason to why it is not available to all our children every day in our nation’s public school system.  Children in our country should not be going hungry.

For more inspiration I encourage you to watch this video:  https://vimeo.com/195810067

You can take action to make school breakfast a reality! It only takes a minute to email your governor and and urge them to support breakfast programs that help connect more kids with the meals they need: http://bit.ly/2FE1SJa

Or join me and make donations to No Kid Hungry to help their mission:  https://secure.nokidhungry.org/site/Donation2;jsessionid=00000000.app215b?df_id=14444&mfc_pref=T&14444.donation=form1&src=18XWH0000S0&_ga=2.33752865.1685853255.1520276327-691640603.1516723820&NONCE_TOKEN=B68A6AC99FBEE24A6CF8C858CC23E530

NKH_Blogger_badge2NSBW-Blog-Header-2_0

 

Are you prioritizing YOU?

Women are busy.  Throw a kid or two in the mix and you have the perfect recipe for a personal tornado.  But are we doing ourselves any justice?  Are we mindful that we come first?

When I became a twin mom to two premature babies my self-prioritization went out the window.  I firmly believed that those two nuggets were the only thing I needed to focus on.  And honestly, between doctor’s appointments, pumping, moving, work, and on and on I didn’t really have much free time.  Or so I thought.

None of us truly have extra time.  I mean really?  We are busy.  Life in this century is busy and dramatically different from life 50 years ago.  Everything is constantly moving at a crazy fast pace.  However, we need to learn to prioritize.  One of my favorite quotes is from Christy Wright, “We don’t have a time problem, we have a priority problem!”  Amen sister.  Think about it, if we actually WANT to do something we are pretty good at finding the time to do it.  Take working out or going to the gym.  Not many of us WANT to do that.  It easily becomes one of those things that we simply cannot find the time for.  If we turn our mind set around and make getting that gym session in a priority we will find the time.  Make it a have-to.  Schedule it in.  Write it in your planner or on your Google calendar.  If you start the day saying “I’m going to try to get to the gym” then you won’t.  If you say “I’m going to the gym at 4:00 pm today” then you will.

I’m willing to bet most of you have heard the saying “happy wife happy life”.  Well it’s true.  If mom ain’t happy then nobody is!  But it goes a lot deeper than kids behaving and your hubby bringing home flowers.  YOU need to figure out and do what makes YOU happy.  Is it a weekly meet up with your girlfriends for coffee?  A bi-weekly  mani-pedi?  Daily gym session?  A quiet 30 minutes a day to read or do a daily devotional?  Perhaps (and most likely) it’s a combination of things.

I found that I had lost myself very easily after the twins came.  Adjusting to motherhood and where that fell in the rest of my life was rough.  As it is for most women I assume.  Then I realized I was just not taking care of myself.  When they were about 1 1/2 it hit me and I realized I needed to refocus and get back on track with a life that made me feel great, not just good.

Two things for me are working out and reading with some girlfriend time a couple times a month.  If I don’t read daily it throws me off.  I always read before bed, for around 30 minutes.  All this involves is me going to bed a little earlier.  It also helps clear my mind and gets me away from electronics for a while before I shut down for the night.  I also take my book to the boys lessons and such so I can sit and read while I wait for them.  As for working out I would love to do so seven days a week but it’s honestly more like five due to the family schedule.  I’m still good with that though!  Life is a give and take.  And I refuse to wake up earlier than I do to work out!  I’ve gone through bouts where I can’t work out regularly and boy do I know it!  I don’t sleep as well, I’m more irritable, and just don’t feel like me.  It’s amazing what a few days a week of mindful exercise can do.  It’s important to find what you love too.  I hate running.  I mean hate.  But I know a lot of people who love it so that’s their thing.  For me it’s Pure Barre, some Beachbody home workouts, weekly dance class, and occasional gym cardio sessions.  Find what works for you.  I can’t stress that enough.

So, what do you love?  What brings you peace?  What allows you to recharge and be the best you?  It can be anything!  But do something.  I promise, you will be a better wife, mother, friend, sister, daughter, employee, boss, whatever roll it is you fill (and I’m sure it’s many) you will be better at it.  Stop losing yourself in your busy. In your kids. In your career.  Once you find yourself and focus on yourself you will find that you like yourself more and you are much better at wearing all those hats.

Meal Planning, You Can Do It!

Something I’ve been thinking about lately, especially as I was peeling potatoes Monday night after a crazy hectic day, is how meal planning has literally changed my family’s life and I know it could for so many others.

Before we started meal planning we ate like crap.  Seriously.  We’d cook a few nights a week, I would try to make better dinners on the weekend, but for the most part I would find myself coming home, getting the twins settled, and then staring in the refrigerator wondering what the heck I was going to make for dinner.  Which is especially hard when I didn’t pull anything out of the freezer.  I would then give up and we would order carry out (costly and not-so-good for you) or pull a sodium and preservative filled meal out of the freezer that is ready in 15 minutes on the stove.  Something needed to change.

I do not recall where my inspiration came from but I started a Pinterest board for Weekly Meal Planning and searched on Amazon for a simple marker board to hang on our fridge.  It took a couple tries but I was able to find one that fit nicely and actually stayed in place.  Now came the planning part.  This takes dedication.

Just like any new habit (or old one your are trying to break) it takes some time.  What do they say, like a month?  Or is it three?  I don’t know.  Either way, you have to be persistent before it becomes a habit that you do not go without.  I always plan the menu for the coming week on Saturday evening or Sunday morning and create the corresponding grocery list.  One key is to stay organized.  I save any recipes I see online or on Pinterest to a few select Pinterest boards and I also have some great cookbooks I use as well.  I go through these recipe “files” and plan the menu according to our schedule, season, and what sounds good!  As I write dinner down I use whatever recipe (whether written or in my head) and add the needed ingredients to the shopping list.  I’m also sure to leave one or two nights open for leftovers or a splurge on take-out (especially if it’s a night that we wont be home till late). Grocery shopping is done on Sunday or Monday morning (props to my hubby who takes on this chore for our family!).

We now shop with a purpose.  We have WAY less waste, eat fresh, and are spending money on what we are actually eating instead of stockpiling the freezer and pantry with items that end up sitting there.  The best part?  Meal Planning has made clean eating EASY.  Seriously.

When I know what I am making every night it is so much easier to plan ahead.  Everything I need is in the house and ready to go in the fridge.  No, “I forgot to pull that out” or “oh we don’t have 3 things needed to make this”.  It’s all there.  It’s all fresh.  We are also saving money, not just on dinner groceries but also on lunches because leftovers become lunch the next day!

Clean and healthy eating does not need to be complicated, because it isn’t.  It’s actually a simple form of eating.  KEEP IT SIMPLE!  You don’t need to be a gourmet cook, or make a 5 course meal every night, just make good, real, simple food.  I challenge you to try it and see what a difference it can make.  On a budget?  Not a problem!  (Aren’t we all really?)  Wait until Sunday morning when your coupons on and ads arrive to plan your menu for the week.  See what’s for sale and then base recipes you use off of that.  I do that too especially for utilizing in season fruits & veggies.

Ok, I need to stop!  haha  I will certainly do some more blogs on this topic because I am pretty passionate about it and I would love to share some more tips and tricks!  For now, below is a link to the marker board we use, a couple of my Pinterest boards, and a cook book that I have recently fallen in love with.  Until next time! xoxo

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B004J2NBCO?psc=1&redirect=true&ref_=oh_aui_detailpage_o03_s00

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1592335144?psc=1&redirect=true&ref_=oh_aui_detailpage_o07_s00

Evol GazzaratoEvol GazzaratoWeekly Meal PlanningEasy Chicken Enchiladas made with precooked rotisserie chicken. Great for the freezer and gluten free when you use corn tortillas! www.leavingtherut.com20 Minute Healthy Chicken Parmesan recipe - easy prep, simple ingredients, SO GOOD. 350 calories. ♡ pinchofyum.comTomato Eggplant Zucchini Bake with Eggplant Garlic and Parmesan. A gorgeous and easy way to use up extra summer veggies! #glutenfree #zucchiniEasy Ranch Baby Carrots - Made with homemade Ranch seasoning and roasted to crisp-tender perfection. And all you need is 5 min prep and one pan. How easy!BBQ Ranch Chicken Casserole from willcookforsmiles.comChicken Fajita QuesadillasChili Pasta Bake RecipeJust four convenient ingredients bake into hearty family-size comfort food!A creamy roasted red pepper sauce - Would ditch the stupid gluten free noodles for real noodles though! Sauce looks yum!Yummy Crunchwrap Supremes7 Slow-Cooker Recipes Perfect for Summer NightsPretzel Dog RecipeThai coconut crockpot chickenCheesy Chicken Enchilada PastaRed Lobster #copycat recipe for crab linguini alfredoPerfect dinner while watching the game! Buffalo Chicken Lettuce Wraps Chicken: https://www.zayconfoods.com/campaign/14One Pan Balsamic Chicken and Veggies - this is seriously easy to make and it tastes AMAZING! Had it ready in 20 minutes!Chicken pairs up with frozen Green Giant™ Sautés chipotle harvest to make a flavorful easy chicken skillet dinner.This homemade Mexican Pizza recipe is better than the famous fast food joint's! Get your daily dose of dairy with melty cheese and a dollop of sour cream! #DairyMonth #adLooking for a healthy and easy meal? Check out this Sausage, Asparagus & Quinoa Meal Recipe. This meal is so simple to make but flavorful and sure to become a family favorite dinner.Frozen veggies are the key to this flavor-packed dinner—made entirely in one dish.Start with Ultimate Chicken Helper® and serve your family this delicious southwestern skillet for an easy and delicious dinner.Create a fuss-free, cheesy chicken dinner in less than 20 minutes. All the enchilada flavor; no rolling required!Thai Curry Sweet Potato & Lentil Soup. - This comforting soup is also so good!Packed with sweet potatoes, lentils and carrots, spiced with curry paste and lime juice, and finished off with creamy coconut milk, this soup comes together quickly! #Recipe #Soup #CurryLoaded baked potato and chicken casserole. Quick and easy, feeds the whole family! #dinnerpinner says... Oven Tacos (love these. My husband's "favorite taco ever". Made them exactly as written, and will do so many times over in the future.)Skinny Thai Chicken Meatballs with Peanut SauceSkinny Thai Chicken Meatballs with Peanut SauceChicken in a Creamy Parmesan and Sundried Tomato SauceAlmond Crusted Chicken Strips-this is one of my favorite alternatives to chicken tenders, the almonds offer a super tasty nutty flavor and I bake mine-perfect meal for kids!This really is the best chicken enchiladas recipe! Plus it's simple to make, and is made with the most amazing enchilada sauce.Spinach and Artichoke Dip Tortellini SoupCookin’ Canuck – Hearty Chicken Stew with Butternut Squash & Quinoa RecipeFab Buffalo Chicken Mac and CheeseSpaghetti Squash Boats - Healthy & Low Carb via www.dailycupofasheejojo.comThese versatile spinach and artichoke recipes have got you covered.NEW One-Pot Cheesy Chicken and Mini DumplingsNEW Easy Chicken and Butternut Squash RisottoThe crowd will go wild for these tasty large-batch bakes. Pack any extra helpings for the easiest-ever day-after lunch!Turn a traditional meatball sub into a quick and easy, one-pan dinner the whole family will love.The Slow Cooker Recipes That You'll Never Want To Live WithoutIngredients You’ll Need Soup: 2 cloves garlic 1 medium yellow onion 3 ribs celery ½ lb (3-4) carrots 1 large (3/4 lb.) chicken breast 1 whole bay leaf 1 tsp dried basil 1 tsp dried thyme freshly cracked pepper 4 cups water 1 tsp salt (plus more to taste) Dumplings: 1½ cups all-purpose flour 1½ …Get this all-star, easy-to-follow Butternut Squash Mac and Cheese recipe from Rachael Ray.BAKED MOZZARELLA CHICKEN ROLLS #holiday #thanksgiving #dinnerpartyFresh Spinach Tomato and Garlic Tortellini Soup - this soup is unbelievably delish! So much fresh and cheesy goodness!Just when you thought mac and cheese couldn't get any better...Tex-Mex Chicken White Cheddar Spaghetti 1Paula Deen's Goulash (the best EVER)Bacon Guacamole Grilled Cheese SandwichChicken and Kale CasseroleSee On//assets.pinterest.com/js/pinit_main.js

Follow Evol’s board Clean Eating Recipes on Pinterest.//assets.pinterest.com/js/pinit.js