Friday, December 18, 2015

Baby #2 Update

I'm still here! We're still alive! The urge to blog has been there! But wanting to do it? Not quite so much.

But let's do a quick update on Baby Holtsclaw #2 while the toddler is napping and I've got a little bit of energy/motivation to type up a quick post (although I should be using that energy/motivation to load the dishwasher... it'll get done eventually ;)

I'll be 19 weeks tomorrow and things have been great (love the 2nd trimester!!!). So far I've been blessed to have another easy pregnancy (just like my first) and when I realized last night I'm almost 20 weeks along and halfway done, it made me sad. I remembered looking forward to getting pregnant again, and to now be pregnant and almost halfway done? How has it gone by so fast already?! Maybe that will help me better appreciate the heartburn that has shown up much earlier this time around OR the gagging/trying not to throw up anytime I smell something gross poopy diapers, the garbage can, raw meat, etc., etc., etc. I feel like I've spent half this pregnancy with my t-shirt up over my nose trying to talk myself out of wanting to throw up (the best is when I'm actively gagging and Luke starts mimicking me by coughing... not funny at the time, but totally funny once the gagging has subsided!).

Yesterday we had our mid-pregnancy ultrasound and baby is doing great! We brought Big Brother along with us to see his new baby brother or sister (we don't find out the gender and prefer our little ones to be a surprise!) but he was more interested in watching the ultrasound tech move the wand around my belly than looking at little brother/sister on the screen. This little one was moving so much and looked like a little boxer throwing punches with its fists! Looks like we have a soccer player (Luke) and a future boxer on our hands ;)

Here's some pictures of our little one!




We're so grateful this little one looks to be doing well and can't wait to meet our newest little addition! Here's to hoping the second half of this pregnancy is just as uneventful as the first!

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Announcing...


Baby Holtsclaw #2
due May 14, 2016!!

We are beyond excited for the newest little edition to the Holtsclaw family (and for the end of the 1st trimester ;)

Wondered why I haven't updated the blog lately? With all the nausea and tiredness I've had no urge whatsoever to even get on here, let alone read other blogs like I always do. I took a blogging break during the first trimester of Luke's pregnancy, too - so I don't feel quite as bad ;)

Boy or Girl? We waited to find out the gender of baby #1 (Luke) and we'll be doing the same with #2 (although I've had one dream about what the gender might be... we'll see if I'm right again ;)

This little one is so loved and so wanted and we are so grateful for this blessing from God! Luke is going to make such a great big brother!! We are so excited for him and so thankful he will have the gift of a sibling to grow up with!

It's such an honor that God is entrusting us with a new little life to take care of. And going from one kid to two? It's exciting and scary and exciting and nerve-racking all at the same time! I'm excited to be pregnant again (I really enjoyed my pregnancy with Luke) and can't wait to feel those little kicks and hiccups inside me once more! 

Luke has brought us SO much joy and we know this little one will only add to it! God is good!!

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Our Sunday Tradition

Sundays have turned into my favorite day of the week. Now that we have settled into a routine with Matthew's new job working night shift, we've been able to start our own Sunday tradition - something I've always wanted to do! Its never been possible when Matthew worked Sundays at his previous job the past five years.

But what makes Sundays even better for us is the fact that they are the end of Matthew's "work week" (he starts his work week on Wednesdays/Thursdays and ends it every Sunday morning, which brings on the start of his "weekend," Sunday - Wednesday). So we just love Sundays all around over here!

So I thought I'd do a post about our weekly Sunday tradition we've started! Here's a peek into a typical Sunday in the Holtsclaw household :)

Luke usually wakes me up via baby monitor (unless I've done the very rare "get myself up and ready before Luke does") and we anxiously wait for Daddy to come home from his night shift with the pink box...


...because Sundays are for donuts.

And on the off-chance we decide not to do donuts (which is pretty rare!), we make a big breakfast, complete with our beloved iced coffees, and sit outside to eat on the back patio while Luke plays in the backyard... assuming it's not too hot already at 8:30AM. I can't wait for cooler temps when we can be outside whenever we want all. day. long. Hurry up, Fall!!


After breakfast we turn on the 9AM televised Catholic mass from SS. Simon and Jude Cathedral in Phoenix. We absolutely love Fr. John's homilies, which is the main reason we watch in the first place. Fr. John actually taught a portion of one of our marriage prep classes (God's Plan for a Joy-Filled Marriage) when we were engaged, and he was amazing! So once I discovered his masses were televised every Sunday, we started tuning in. And the funny thing is Luke loves to watch too!


The music, prayers, readings... he's completely focused on what's going on (even more so than other TV shows or his VeggieTales movie - which he doesn't watch often because we hardly ever turn the TV on). It's like he understands what it is because he sees/hears the same exact thing every Sunday when we go to church!

This gives me the opportunity to listen to the Sunday readings before we go to mass (because God knows we don't get to hear much from the cry room with Luke's mass behavior lately ;) And around the time the homily starts, Luke is ready to go down for his morning nap and we're able to watch the homily + the rest of mass in peace. 

Matthew will usually doze off on the couch somewhere during that time until I make him go to bed to catch up on some sleep (he did just get home from working a 12 hour night shift, after all ;)

The rest of the day is spent lounging around the house, just Luke and I, until Daddy wakes up. Then we play together, I'll usually try and sneak off to our bedroom for some much needed "me time" while Matthew takes care of Luke, and we prep a homemade pizza for dinner so it will be ready to stick in the oven once we come home from evening mass.

Because of Matthew's night shifts, we've had to switch from Sunday morning mass to the Sunday 5PM contemporary mass... where we have assigned seats in the cry room ;)


After barely surviving mass (there's a reason we have assigned seats in the cry room ;) Luke loves to walk out by himself carrying his mass bag of toys: a children's Bible, his RosaryChews Teething Rosary, his VeggieTales Junior Asparagus plush toy, and a binder ring full of Saint prayer cards to flip through (notice how they're all soft toys? That's because a certain someone likes to throw things now :) 


Every once in awhile if we don't feel like cooking or don't have all the ingredients to make our homemade pizza, we'll go out to eat after mass... and we usually end up at the same place every time - Arriba Mexican Grill (it's pretty much our favorite!). Loud music to cover up a noisy toddler + chips & salsa / mini chimis / spicy New Mexican food + margaritas = perfecto!

The boy sure does love his refried beans!

But usually we're coming straight home from mass to pop our homemade pizza in the oven...


...because Sundays are for donuts and homemade pizza :)

One thing I'd love to add to our Sunday tradition is saying a family rosary - something we've never attempted with our 16 month old, so that should be interesting!


You gotta start somewhere though, right? And it's never too early to start?

I'll let you know how that goes ;)

Sunday, August 9, 2015

7 Quick Takes: The Happy Kind!

I've been dealing with a pretty clingy/fussy/needy toddler all week and have wiped more runny noses and snot off the couches than I care to admit. The little one is teething and runny noses are my downfall for sure. I can't stand 'em. I wipe his nose and not 2 minutes later it needs wiped again. Not to mention when he takes his hand and rubs it all over his runny nose, or rubs his runny nose on my clothes, or... you get the point. I'm just hoping all this nose-wiping is shaving off some time from purgatory!

So how about some 7 Quick Takes that are the happy kind? I could use it :)

— 1 —

I want it to be Fall so bad. Like an, "I can almost taste the pumpkin spiced latte and smell the scent of pumpkin pie candles" kind of bad. I want to pull out my Fall decor and start decorating the house - and I'm one of those people that hate when others jump the gun and start decorating super early when the current season hasn't even ended! I want the start of college football, to open windows and doors to let the house air out, and to go on walks or outside to play whenever we want. It's just SO hot and I'm over it. So when it's 112 degrees out, you make due with what you got...


However, there is a light at the end of the tunnel! We've made it to August! While August is still super hot in the desert, September is right around the corner and should start to bring double-digit temps with it. Glass half full, people. Glass half full! We can do this I hope!

— 2 —

Daddy put Luke's sandals on the wrong feet, and when I caught it, he tried to blame it on "Luke handing him the sandals like that."

I love those little piggies!

Okay, so I've put his shoes on the wrong feet once or twice, too. I just notice right away and change them before he's made his way outside ;)

— 3 —

Last Thursday night's dinner: Sonoran Dogs!


It's a Southwestern thing! Bacon-wrapped hot dogs topped with pinto beans, chopped tomatoes, onions, mustard, mayonnaise, and jalapeños, served on a bolillo or torpedo roll (although there are many variations of toppings, the bacon-wrapped hot dog is essential).

I have a love/hate relationship with the desert in the summer. Love the food! Hate the heat.

— 4 —

We woke up to an overcast morning a few days ago (my favorite! I love the change of pace from constant sunshine every once in awhile) and decided to take Luke to one of the nearby parks in our neighborhood. He was pretty scared being on the playground equipment even with us right there next to him (he held onto us for dear life!), but LOVED the swings.

Shoes on the correct feet - Check!

Bonus: We tired him out enough that he took a 2.5 hour nap :)

— 5 —

All of a sudden Luke has taken a huge interest in books and being read to (which I love!). So we've kept busy while being cooped up in the house by doing lots of reading... of the same books over and over and over again.

Here we are reading The Very Hungry Caterpillar for the 5,974th time today.

His current favorites include: The Very Hungry Caterpillar, Mr. Brown Can Moo! Can You?, Oh, Daddy!, Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?, and Dr. Seuss's A B C (which Matthew and I can literally recite from memory. All 63 pages. Dead serious. And we're pretty proud of it, too).

Try to read him anything else and the Luke-baby gets quite angry, complete with shoving the book you just read to him three times in a row back into your hand (or face). Heaven forbid we try to switch anything up for Mommy's sanity.

So I figured now would be a great time to introduce Luke to the library, literally 1.5 miles down the street from us!


While I searched for books, Matthew kept an eye on Luke. This kid had a blast shrieking loudly throughout the children's section of the library, playing with the toys, and pulling books off the shelves.


We weren't kicked out and I was able to checkout a few books - so I think we'll call it a win! Maybe Luke and I will come back and give their Baby Time and the Music Together programs a try?


And guess what? Out of the books we checked out, Luke's not interested in reading any of them. Looks like Mr. Brown Can Moo! Can You? it is! 

— 6 —

Matthew has put our new cocktail recipe book (which I posted about back here) to good use! We've been enjoying lots of new cocktails while living liturgically and learning about the holy men and women of our Catholic faith.

On August 2nd we celebrated the feast of Our Lady of the Angels of Portiuncula with a Los Angeles cocktail: whiskey, lemon juice, sweet vermouth, sugar, and one small egg.

^That cocktail seriously has a raw egg in it. And honestly, it wasn't all that bad!

Who knew Catholicism could be so fun? :)

— 7 —

I'll admit - my love/hate relationship with the desert is more of a "love" relationship. I can't get over how seriously beautiful it is! After five years of living in Arizona, I still look like a tourist taking pictures of Saguaro cacti. I just can't help myself :)


And the cherry on top of these 7 happy Quick Takes? It's Matthew's last night shift for this week, then he'll have the next 4 days off before he's back at it again! That means I'll get some "mom off duty" time and someone to help wipe runny noses! ;)

Linking up with Kelly for 7 Quick Takes!

Saturday, August 1, 2015

Things Lately

Clever post title, right?! I know.

I can't believe it's August! I feel like Christmas will be here before we know it (some stores already have their Christmas decorations out I hate that!).

Two days ago the teachers at my former school (which I resigned from in order to be a SAHM) reported back to work for the upcoming school year. Back in May, when I made the official decision, I wondered how I would feel when August rolled around and I wasn't going back to work like the rest of them. Would I want to go back after being home all summer with Luke? Would I start to regret my decision of resigning or miss my job and want it back? Or would I be perfectly happy with staying home?

Seeing some of the teachers post Facebook statuses about going back to work and the excitement of a new school year was a little bittersweet. It felt weird knowing all my fellow colleagues were at work while I was home in my yoga pants taking care of a toddler and doing the dishes. 

But I'm confident this is where I'm supposed to be. More importantly I'm confident this is where God wants me to be. These SAHM days can be hard (very hard), but I'm learning as I go... and laundry is no exception. I found Matthew's laundry basket of dirty clothes conveniently left outside our bedroom door while he was inside catching up on sleep from one of his night shifts.


I think he was trying to tell me something. #iswearidolaundryaroundhere

Luke has had a runny nose which he wipes all over himself and everything else the past two days and hasn't been sleeping as well as he usually does these past few nights (hello, 5:30AM wake-up call this morning). I'm hoping it's just teething. As much as I feel guilty about screen time for my little one, VeggieTales and freeze pops have been a sanity-saver for me lately.


What Rachel (of the blog, Testosterhome) says in this post is spot on:
"My worth does not come from a To-Do list that gets done or my ability to volunteer or be in charge. In the days of babies and small children, what you learn is a giant does of humility..."
Umm... Amen? I needed to read that.

Proof that this whole SAHM thing is a work in progress for me ;)

So I guess puzzles are now a new hobby for Matthew and I. We love working on one together when Luke has gone down for a nap or to bed for the night. It's actually quite relaxing to sit down with an adult beverage, do some chit-chatting, and even turn things into a friendly competition to see who can put together the most pieces. Does enjoying puzzles make us seem like an old married couple? (HA!)

With a little motivation from some mint chocolate chip ice cream, Matthew and I were able to bang out the rest of this 750 piece puzzle (the second one we've completed!).


And speaking of ice cream... have you given this stuff a try?


It tastes even better when you're eating it straight out of the container (because who wants to dirty more dishes than they have to?!) while watching The Jim Gaffigan Show (a must watch... especially if you're Catholic! It's hilarious!).

Besides The Jim Gaffigan Show, we've been watching Seinfeld now that it's available on Hulu Plus! We started all the way back at Season 1 in hopes of watching every single episode. Because we're adventurous like that.


That's assuming we don't fall asleep while watching it in bed. Because parenting (in all its exhausting glory) + wine = super sleepy.

And on the topic of sleep (don't you love how all these pictures seem to segue perfectly into the next? Totally not planned, but awesome!), Matthew's night shifts at his new job are still going really well! In the beginning I was worried Luke and I might wake him up doing our everyday routine around the house while he tried to sleep, but (thankfully!!) Matthew has proven to be a heavy sleeper making my life much easier (I couldn't imagine having to keep a 16 month old quiet all day long... at all).

One morning shortly after Matthew came home from work, I asked him to watch Luke while I got a shower. I came out when I was finished to find them both asleep in our bed... laying in the same exact position, arms and all...


Like father, like son.

And on that note, I leave you with some pretty pictures of Arizona sunsets! We've had some monsoons and dust storms around the area this past week, which has made for cloudy skies and gorgeous sunsets. This one is from a couple days ago...


And this next one is from last night. I've never seen anything like it!!


We had a late afternoon storm yesterday. Last night I happened to look out the back door and noticed everything looked a beautiful pinkish-purpleish-orange, which in Arizona means there's probably a pretty legit sunset happening. I stuck my head outside and couldn't see much of the sunset but could tell it was definitely a pretty one. I knew the sky changes quickly as the sun sets, so I literally ran to get my flip-flops, grabbed Luke, and ran outside not knowing just how AMAZING the sky looked. As I was snapping pictures with my phone, I turned around to see my son happily walking barefoot around the muddy backyard... and there was a rainbow!


I know I've said it a million times, but this may have been the most beautiful Arizona sunset I've ever seen. God is SO good!

Happy August!!

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Five Easy Slow-Cooker & One-Pot Meals {5 Faves}

Cooking. It's not something I've ever been fond of. I never did much cooking (if any, really) growing up and never had much of a desire to start. Matthew, on the other hand, loves to cook and does a much better job at it. He can toss just about anything together using random ingredients from the fridge or pantry, knows just what spices to add, and makes it look all too easy while doing it. I, however, am more of a "Type A" person and must have a recipe to follow or else I just. can't. do. it. I didn't (and still kind of don't) like to cook, but Matthew did, so he was the one who did the majority of the cooking in our house. Enter into the picture our first child + me becoming a stay-at-home mom and now I kind of have to cook.

Can I just say, "Thank you, Jesus, for Pinterest!!"

I needed lots of easy like "beginners" easy recipes available to me ASAP so I could feed my family something other than Hamburger Helper... and Pinterest has been my saving grace. Seriously.

So as I continue to get the hang of this whole "cooking" thing, here are my {5 Faves} for easy (and most importantly, delicious!!) slow-cooker and one-pot meals, courtesy of Pinterest (I even included a link so you can pin the recipe to your own Pinterest board for later use, if you like :)

1. Country Shrimp Boil (One-Pot Meal) // Pin It!

Oh. My. Gosh. Seriously our newest, most-favorite dinner EVER! This meal now makes an appearance every single month on our monthly meal plan calendar. It is that good! And better yet? SO simple!! It tastes just as good as that picture looks!

via
Ingredients:
  • 1 tablespoon crab boil seasoning (old bay) plus extra for sprinkling
  • 12 baby red potatoes or any small potatoes
  • 6 ears of fresh corn, cut in half
  • 12 ounce bottle beer
  • 1 onion, quartered
  • 2 (one pound) packages smoked sausage, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 pound large raw shrimp, fresh or froze
Directions:
  1. In a stockpot, add the seasoning, potatoes, corn, beer, onion and sausage.
  2. Cover with water.
  3. Bring to a boil and simmer 30 minutes.
  4. Add shrimp and cook about 3 minutes or until the shrimp turns pink.
  5. Drain the liquid into the sink and serve boil.
  6. Sprinkle with extra crab boil seasoning.

Seriously, go make this. Right now.

2. Beer Crock Pot Chicken // Pin It!

This meal had me at "beer". I love this dinner! There's nothing more gross to me than dried out chicken especially dried out chicken breast, but this chicken is always so juicy and tender every. single. time. (I love the crock pot... you just can't mess it up!) And flavorful! Don't forget flavorful with this one!

via
Ingredients: 

  • 4-6 Chicken Breasts or 1 Whole or cut up Chicken
  • 1 Can of any kind of Beer
  • 1/2 tsp Garlic Powder
  • 1/2 tsp Basil
  • 1/2 tsp Paprika
  • 1/2 tsp Black Pepper
  • 1/2 tsp Kosher Salt
  • *You can use whatever spices you like 
Directions:
  1. Put all ingredients into crock pot
  2. If frozen cook on high 4-5 hours or low 8-10
  3. If fresh cook on high 3-4 hrs or low 7-8 hours if fresh

We've always used chicken thighs or drumsticks to make this dinner. Warning: It practically falls right off the bone (it's sooo good).

3. Shredded Beef Tacos (Crock Pot) // Pin It!

We do "Taco Tuesday" around here and these shredded beef tacos are one of our go-to's!

via
Ingredients:
  • 1 (2.5 lb) chuck roast
  • 1 (14 oz) can beef broth
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp chili powder
  • 1/2 Tbsp cumin
  • 1/2 Tbsp onion powder
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp freshly cracked black pepper
  • Juice of 1 lime
Directions:

  • In a small bowl whisk together chili powder, cumin, onion powder, garlic powder, salt and pepper. Place roast in a slow cooker, pour beef broth over roast then squeeze with fresh lime juice. Sprinkle roast with spice mixture. Cover slow cooker with lid and cook on low heat 8-10 hours. Remove roast from slow cooker, shred beef (remove fat) and return shredded beef to slow cooker. Cover with lid and cook additional 30 minutes. Remove beef from slow cooker with tongs to remove juices when plating or drain in a colander. Serve with desired toppings.

They forgot to mention Tapatío! You can never have a taco without drenching it in Tapatío!! Or at least I can't. I love it! We buy it in bulk because I go through it so quickly :)

4. Zuppa Toscana Soup (One-Pot Meal) // Pin It!

I posted about this Olive Garden knockoff soup back here and can't say enough good things about it! SO. GOOD. Only 7 ingredients and the fact that it's all made in one pot? EVEN BETTER! This will be another recurring meal on our monthly meal plan.
via
Ingredients:
  • 1 pound ground hot* Italian sausage
  • 1 small white onion, peeled and diced
  • 4 cups good-quality chicken stock
  • 1 (12-ounce) jar DeLallo roasted red peppers, drained and diced
  • 1 bunch kale, roughly chopped (and stems removed, if desired)
  • 1 pound DeLallo potato gnocchi
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • salt and pepper
  • optional toppings: freshly shaved or grated Parmesan cheese, crumbled bacon
Directions:
Add Italian sausage and diced onion to the large stockpot or Dutch oven.  Cook over medium-high heat until the sausage is completely browned, stirring occasionally and breaking up the sausage with a spoon.  Drain out as much of the excess grease as possible.
Then add in the chicken stock and diced roasted red peppers, and bring the mixture to a simmer (still over medium-high heat).  Once it reaches a simmer, reduce heat to medium-low and add the kale and gnocchi and stir to combine.  Continue cooking for 5 minutes, or until the gnocchi are cooked through and tender.  Stir in the heavy cream.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.  (I used about 1 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon pepper.)
Serve warm with desired toppings.

Pick up some Olive Garden salad and bread sticks to-go, and you're set!

5. Slow Cooker Meatball Sub Sandwiches // Pin It!

Because who doesn't love a good meatball sub with gooey mozzarella cheese on top?! Maybe serve 'em up on paper plates to minimize the dishes if its been "one of those days" and call it good! :)

via
Ingredients:
  • 1 pound lean ground beef (OR ground turkey) 
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup Italian bread crumbs
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 jar pasta sauce (OR about 24 ounces homemade pasta sauce)
  • 4 submarine/hoagie/Italian rolls (about 6 inches long each)
  • 1 cup (4 ounces) shredded mozzarella cheese
  • Grated Parmesan cheese, optional
Directions:
  1. In a medium bowl, combine ground beef with egg, bread crumbs, garlic powder, salt, and pepper. Mix with hands or a large spoon until all ingredients are well incorporated.
  2. Form mixture into 12 meatballs, taking care not to make them too compact. Place meatballs in the bottom of slow cooker. Pour pasta sauce over meatballs, making sure that each one is completely covered.
  3. Cook on low for 8 hours (or on high for 4 hours) or until meatballs are done. (If your slow cooker runs hot, meatballs may be done sooner and sauce may turn a bit dark around the edges.)
  4. To serve, halve each roll lengthwise and place 3 meatballs inside. Sprinkle with mozzarella cheese. The hot meatballs should cause the cheese to melt, but if not, you may place sandwiches under the oven broiler for a minute to melt cheese completely. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese, if desired, and serve hot.

I'm looking forward to seeing everyone's easy slow-cooker and one-pot meal picks over at Dwija's link-up! I could use some new dinner ideas for our monthly meal plan I'll be working on within the next day or two! (How is it almost August already?!)

Also linking up with Jenna for {Five Favorites}