Archives for September 2015

Victory Monday

Happy Monday, y’all! It’s VICTORY Monday in our house today! Yes, the Falcons won yesterday and are 2-0, but we are celebrating an even bigger victory today! Yesterday was my “Good News Day” – the day I gained the NED designation. If you haven’t been a cancer patient, the word NED might not mean much to you. But to me, it’s basically my favorite word of all because it stands for “no evidence of disease” in other words… cancer free! Since Jacob was in New York all day yesterday, we are celebrating the 2nd anniversary of  my Good News Day today! If you are new to the blog and haven’t read about my cancer journey you can read about it here and here.

September is famous for Childhood Cancer Awareness month, but it’s also Thyroid Cancer Awareness Month. I had never even heard of thyroid cancer until a few months before I was diagnosed. And even though it’s one of the fastest growing cancers among women, it still isn’t mentioned when the cancer conversation comes up because it’s dubbed the “good cancer” due to its high survival rates.. News flash: There isn’t a good cancer. Sure, my hair didn’t fall out and I didn’t spend months in the hospital, but I am *still* dealing with the repercussions of this disease and will for the rest of my life.

Since most people are uneducated about thyroid cancer, I want you to know a few things (things I didn’t know prior to January 28, 2012).

  1. Check Your Neck. Seriously. It seems so simple, but no one does it. Women will be bombarded with all things pink next month to remind them to do monthly breast exams, but I’ve literally never heard a single person tell me to “check my neck”. Not even my doctors mentioned it, until after my diagnosis. To do this simple check, first, locate your thyroid. It’s right above your collar bone and below your Adam’s apple. Next, stand in front of a mirror and take a drink of water and swallow it to watch for any lumps, bumps or knots. Then, use the side of your hand and slowly move it up and down the front of your next to check again for any lumps. That’s it. It’s that simple. If you feel something that doesn’t seem right or is new to your neck, please call your doctor. check your neck

2. No one is immune to the threat of cancer. No one. My only risk factor was my gender. I had no family history of this type of cancer and I was only 28 when I was diagnosed.

3. Take care of your body: it’s the only place you have to live. I have recently become a little slack in taking the best possible care of my body, but my Good News Day anniversary has reignited my fire to do so. You can control two of the four things that contribute to cancer: diet and exercise. It’s actually pretty simple… eat the rainbow, don’t eat junk and move your body! Don’t you want to reduce your cancer risk by doing those simple things?

4. Eat foods that contain iodine. Iodine is crucial to your thyroid health. These types of foods include anything that comes from the sea (fish, seaweed, etc.), dairy products and eggs. You can also buy salt that contains iodine.

5. If you feel that something just isn’t right with your body, call a doctor. My first symptom of thyroid cancer was my toes tingling. It then spread to my legs and arms. My doctor did a CT to check for a pinched nerve and that’s when they saw the tumor on my thyroid. I had been feeling a little sluggish, but attributed it to having a toddler and the stress of football season. If you aren’t feeling like yourself, seek help.

Now that we’ve gotten all of the serious stuff out of the way, can we talk about the Falcons game I mentioned earlier? My sweet hubby caught his career long catch with a 41 yard haul from Matt Ryan. He’s just getting better each year. 30 is the new 23, right? Hah!

 

A Letter to Fantasy Football Owners – Football Friday

Football Field 1

Dear Fantasy Football Owners,

This, my friends, is the most glorious time of year. The air is a little more crisp, the temperature is slowly dropping, pumpkin spice lattes are being purchased and… it’s football season!

With football season comes fantasy football season. Some of you are very serious fantasy football owners, some enjoy a casual competition, others may have had their spouse twist their arm to participate, while others may have been lured by free food at a draft party. No matter the manner in which you decided to become a fantasy football owner – congrats! You own a “team”! Hopefully, it’s your dream team that will bring you to victory.

Fantasy football can be a very serious competition in some leagues. This competition can lead to some VERY disgruntled owners – men and women alike. Disgruntled owners often feel the need to vent their frustrations to the players they “own” (and the entire world) via social media, which is where I want to focus this letter – the all too popular player bashing that’s ALL over the internet. Yes, my husband plays in the NFL, so this topic is personal.

As we sat around the table for Christmas dinner last year, we were surrounded by several of Jacob’s teammates. In attendance were a rookie, a Pro Bowler, a player who is the highest paid at his position in the league, and several veterans, all of which had been threatened, harassed, ridiculed and belittled on social media. As I listened to the guys talk about things people had written about them on Twitter, I realized that even these rough and tough NFL players can be bullied. There is nothing more cowardly (or silly) than personally attacking someone that you’ve never even met, and yet it happens day after day online. I dare say, not a single one of these online bullies would EVER be brave enough to say to an NFL player’s face what they have said online. Hiding behind their electronic device gives them a sense of security and social media gives them a voice – and a way to voice their opinions directly to athletes through mediums like Twitter.

I’m not naive. I’m not asking for sympathy for NFL players. I realize that they choose to play football for a living and therefore they choose the spotlight. However, they didn’t choose to be bullied, online or otherwise. [Jacob says “bullied” is not the right word to use… But I don’t know what else to call it!]

People feel the need to ridicule players when they don’t perform to their standards, which is just crazy. Have you ever had a bad day at work? Missed a meeting? Been late to an appointment? Lost a client? Didn’t close the big sale? Has your student ever failed a test? Or your child been disobedient? We ALL have bad days at work, no matter the profession. Usually a bad day at work elicits a “better luck next time” or passing the blame to [insert your excuse]. What excludes NFL players from that? The fact that their work is displayed for millions to see each week. Can you even imagine if your work was on network tv and shown to the masses? Yeah, me neither.

It seems so easy to bully NFL players. I mean, on the news they are portrayed (and sometimes rightfully so) as cheaters, womanizers, thieves, drunks, and even murderers. It’s easy to see them as something other than real people. However, when you’re on the inside of this fraternity of sorts, you see things a little differently. Before you decide to bully one of your fantasy football players, remember this: The VAST majority of men playing in the NFL are men of character and integrity. You may see them catch touchdowns on Sundays, but on Tuesdays they are visiting the pediatric cancer ward at the children’s hospital. On Wednesday evenings they are attending Bible Studies. Thursday nights are spent signing autographs for children at the local grocery store. The off-season is spent running non-profits and organizing fundraisers for charities. They use their breaks between practices to call fans with terminal illnesses. These men are not the thugs the media portrays them to be and they are certainly not deserving of the hate that is spewed at them when they drop a pass, throw an interception, or otherwise don’t play to the standard that would have helped win a fantasy football game.

So, fantasy football owners, my one request is this: Please be kind. What you say (or write) says much more about you as a person than the player you are writing about.

Regards,
An NFL wife

Sunday Scriptures + Grandparent’s Day

IMG_1006Happy Grandparent’s Day to our parents! This year is the first year in my children’s life that they have been with both sets of grandparents on their special day, so naturally I made everyone take a photo. We were running late for church, but a picture was a must. My babies adore their Besta, Papa, MoMo and Granddaddy. They say “it takes a village to raise a child”, well, these four are a big part of our village. Jacob and I also have wonderful grandparents in Kentucky, Tennessee and in Heaven. We love them very much too!

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Last week was the last of the ABC Scriptures and I asked for ideas of what scriptures to post next. I got some great ideas, but little did I know that my Proverbs 31 Online Bible Study would have a verse to memorize each week. Perfect timing!

I love this verse and am so excited to write it on my heart this week. The Bible study asks each person to place the verse as their home screen on their phone. This.is.genius.

How many times a day do I look at my phone? 100? 1,000? Maybe more! Now each time, this verse will be the first thing I see when my screen lights up. How could I not memorize it when I see it dozens and dozens of times each day?

 

1st Day of Preschool

Yesterday was Luke’s first day of preschool here in Georgia and we both had a tear free day! I may have gotten teary eyed as I dropped him off, but no real tears! Hah! Luke hopped out of the car, grabbed a teacher’s hand and never looked back! Of course I asked a million and one “mom questions” when I picked him up and got a lot of nothing in response… he’s a total boy. He did say his school is “awesome”, so that was good enough for me!

Here is Luke on his first day of “school” in 2012, 2013, and 2014.

Luke's 1st days of school

And here he was yesterday… his last first day of preschool! Can not believe how big he is!

1st Day of Preschool 2015

In case you missed it last week, click to download the free 1st Day of Preschool Printable Sign.

Free Teacher Gift Printable + Maple Glazed Donut Recipe

Smart Cookie Free Teacher Gift printableOn Thursday, we met Luke’s new preschool teachers and since first impressions always count I wanted him to take them a sweet little gift. We decided to give them cookies in a jar, because who doesn’t LOVE cookies? We used Bakerella’s Cowboy Cookie recipe (we left out the nuts because he goes to a nut free school) and packaged it in a quart sized mason jar.

Smart Cookie Free Teacher Gift Printable

I created a printable that reads “I’ll be one smart cookie with you as my teacher” and attached it to the front along with some ribbon with double sided tape. I used a border from “Coffee, Kids and Compulsive Lists”, which is funny because all three of those things consume my life right now! The baking instructions for the cookies are also included in the file and fit perfectly on the lid. This was by total accident. I actually designed the directions to be attached to the back of the jar, but since it was a perfect fit, I attached it to the lid with double sided tape too.

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To download the Smart Cookie labels click here.

Free Smart Cookie Teacher Gift Printable

These are so easy and quick to put together and perfect for kiddos to help with as well. Luke’s job was to use a pastry tool to pack the each layer down. Of course, we had to keep remeasuring the m&m’s because my little helper kept eating them.

While the kids were playing, I snuck out to the front porch to photograph the cookie jars. About halfway through taking the pictures I looked up and saw this…

IMG_0922My girl is *never* far from her mama. At times it is tough because she wants to constantly be held, but I know that this time is short and I almost always oblige. Some say she is spoiled, but I like it that way!

IMG_2336I posted this photo on my social media accounts yesterday and got lots of questions about how these were made. I’m happy to tell you they are super easy and probably one of the most delicious things I’ve ever made.

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I made a big mistake and bought the 5 count can of biscuits instead of 8. My jeans are thanking me, but my taste buds were pretty ticked off! Hah! Here are two of the five beauties after being dropped in the frying oil.

Easy 15-Minute Maple Bars
Recipe from Butter with a Side of Bread

  • 1 8-count can refrigerated biscuit dough (I used Pillsbury Grand Homestyle Buttermilk biscuits)
  • 2 cups canola oil, for frying
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 3 TBSP milk
  • 1 TBSP corn syrup
  • 2 tsp maple extract
  • 2 cups powdered sugar

Pour 2 cups of canola oil into a medium sized saucepan and begin heating on medium-low heat (I set mine at 4.)

Open the biscuit dough and separate. Gently stretch the biscuits into an oblong shape, as opposed to the round shape they come in.

In a small saucepan, combine butter and brown sugar. Whisk in milk and heat for about 5 minutes on medium heat, stirring often, until butter is melted and sugar is dissolved.

Remove from heat and add in corn syrup and maple extract. Add in powdered sugar 1/2 cup at a time, whisking until smooth between additions. Add 1-2 tsp more milk if necessary. Glaze will begin to harden if you leave it sitting- which is what you want! Once all powdered sugar is added, keep maple glaze warm on the stove, whisking occasionally.

Check the temperature of the oil using a meat thermometer- it needs to read 350 degrees F. Increase heat gradually if necessary.

Once oil is ready, drop bars in 2 at a time. Let cook for about 2 minutes, then turn and cook an additional 2 minutes on the other side. This process of cooking the doughnuts goes very fast, so have a paper towel covered plate ready to set the bars on when cooked. Bars should be a nice golden brown.

Let bars cool for a few minutes, then whisk the glaze to make sure it’s smooth enough to dip each bar. Dip the bar, then immediately turn glaze side up on a cooling rack.

*We rolled two of the donuts in a cinnamon sugar mix to have a variety of donut flavors*

Repeat this process until all bars are fried and glazed.

They’re best eaten within an hour, but even the next morning they’re amazing!

IMG_2327I cannot attest to how long these stay fresh because we inhaled them with in minutes. However, we did have leftover maple icing and we used it as a dip for sliced apples… amazing!

Back to School Prep + Printables

Lately my social media accounts are flooded with adorable photos of kids holding perfectly lettered chalkboard signs declaring it was their first day of school. I knew I needed up up my “sign game” when I saw how lame mine have been in years past compared to what the super moms were creating this year.

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See? Black font on white paper – boring! And can we talk about how little Luke was here? This was two years ago and I thought he was SO big then… oh my!

Handlettering on chalkboards is so trendy and completely first day of school themed, however, there’s one major problem… I have ZERO skill when it comes to writing on a chalkboard. As in, it looks like Luke did it. I have relatively decent handwriting on paper, but when you hand me a piece of chalk it looks like I was blindfolded and just completed a dizzy bat race. It doesn’t help that my best friend has *the* most gorgeous chalkboard in her kitchen that looks like it belongs on Pinterest every single time I see it!

chalkboard hand lettering

photo by: @marketplacegray

Gorgeous, right? I mean, how I compete with that? 

Well, I can’t. Those who can’t handletter on a chalkboard create a digital chalkboard.

I’ve been dabbling in graphic design lately by creating lots of printables that I’ll share in the future and I came up with the perfect sign for Luke. His is actually personalized with the name of his school and starting date, but I also made a plain one for you to download here.

1st Day of Preschool Printable

I also found this adorable 1st day of preschool interview. You can print your own interview here. Don’t worry if your child isn’t in preschool. There’s interviews for pre-k through 12th grade. It was fun to hear Luke’s responses to each question and will be a great keepsake to look back on when he is grown. Some answers were sweet and some made me laugh. I hope to do a similar interview each year to see what changes.

First Day of Preschool Interview

We met his teacher yesterday and got to visit his new classroom. It’s hard to believe he is getting so big! I can’t even think about kindergarten next year… I’m going to need counseling!

Luke at Preschool Open House

Stop back by tomorrow for a free teacher’s gift printable that can be used anytime throughout the school year!

Taming the To Do List

I was first introduced to the author Lysa Terkeurst by a friend, Iris Ramirez. Her husband was one of Jacob’s teammates in Denver and she led a Bible Study each week for the Broncos wives and girlfriends. We studied Lysa’s book, What Happens When Women Say Yes to God. It was amazing and I loved Lysa’s teaching style and her very relatable and readable texts. During this study, I started following Lysa on Instagram and learned that she was the president of Proverbs 31 Ministries. Proverbs 31 Ministries is a non-demoninational women’s ministry and I have really enjoyed reading their daily devotionals. I have always seen on their Web site that they offer Online Bible Studies, but never thought I had time to really devote myself to adding another item to my to do list… until last week. I saw a graphic that said, “Your to-do list shouldn’t always be about what you’re doing, but who you’re becoming.”

Taming the To-Do List Quote

photo from Instagram: @lysaterkeurst

Ouch! It was like a punch in the gut. I needed to read that! It was the push I needed to sign up for the next Online Bible Study with Proverbs 31.

I was instantly combative with the idea. When will I have time to read the book? Not to mention time to actually participating in the online chat? Crazy Talk! And I’m already several days behind on my yearly Bible reading! Nope, I can’t do it! But then I saw at the bottom of the page this little snippet:

Screen Shot 2015-09-02 at 11.31.24 AMOk, God! I’m hearing you loud and clear! This year is the first year that I will have a carpool line at Luke’s school. I will certainly have 10-15 minutes four days a week while I wait for him to get out of school. Bingo! There’s the time. Yes, I could spend that time scrolling through Facebook or obsessively pinning recipes and craft ideas, but God was showing me that there is a better way to spend that time: an Online Bible Study.

Taming the To-Do List Quote

I would love for you to sign up too and it’s not too late! The study starts on Tuesday, September 8th, which is the same day Luke starts school, so I can read it in the car line… coincidence? I think not. I don’t really believe in coincidences, because God orchestrates everything we do – even carving out 10 minutes each day in the preschool car line. Click here if you would like to sign up. If you aren’t sure this study is for you, click the book below and you can download and read the first three chapters.

Taming the To-Do List Book Cover

Please comment or e-mail me if you sign up! I’m so excited to learn about how to tame my to-do list!