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Bursting with Flavor: Grilled Cilantro Lime Chicken

Memorial Day Weekend is the perfect time to dust off the grill and gather together with family and friends to thank the Lord for our many blessings as we remember the heroic men and women who have given their lives for the freedoms we enjoy!

What better way to celebrate than with a super quick-n-easy meal that allows us more time with our family and less time in the kitchen! Firing up the grill is definitely one of the easiest ways to get a healthy meal on the table in just minutes!

Another plus is that grilling results in less mess and less dishes. And of course, you just can’t beat the savory flavor of grilled meats, which is why it’s one of my favorite cooking methods.

This super easy Cilantro Lime Chicken recipe is my new go-to favorite. I love that I can make the marinade ahead of time, which means even faster turn-around time on busy weeknights! I also throw some veggies on the grill at the same time for a simple side dish that complements the chicken perfectly and adds a boost of nutrition!

Dinner doesn’t have to be complicated to be delicious and healthy. With just a few simple ingredients, you can create quick-n-easy dishes just bursting with flavor! And remember you can always save even more time by grilling extra chicken that you can use to create other healthy weeknight meals.

Grilled Cilantro Lime Chicken

Ingredients

2.5 lbs boneless, skinless chicken thighs
3 cups loosely packed fresh cilantro leaves
1 medium jalapeño pepper, seeded and chopped
3 garlic cloves, peeled and smashed
1 Tbsp lime zest (about 2 limes)
2 Tbsp lime juice (about 2 limes)
1 Tbsp red wine vinegar
1 tsp dijon mustard
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp sea salt

Instructions

1. Place chicken thighs in a 9×9-inch baking dish; set aside.
2. Place remaining ingredients into a blender or food processor in the order given. Cover and process on low until fine chopped and blended.
3. Transfer 1/2 cup of the cilantro-lime marinade to a small bowl. Evenly distribute the remaining marinade over the chicken, making sure to well coat.
4. Cover chicken and refrigerate for 30 minutes to one hour. Then remove from fridge and pre-heat grill to medium-high heat.
5. Grill chicken about 3-4 minutes, until the edges become opaque. Then flip the chicken over and brush with reserved marinade. Reduce heat to medium and cover grill. Continue cooking until chicken is cooked through. Enjoy!

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How to Become a Stay-At-Home Mommy on a Budget

One of the questions I get asked is “how do you afford to be a stay at home mom?” I never know exactly what to say because honestly, we don’t have an abundance of money just floating around. Staying home has meant that we don’t eat out very often, we give a lot of thought to what we purchase, and although we live a frugal life, we live a happy life.

Let’s be honest, affording to stay at home is not easy. It’s not something that was just magically bestowed on us although we do KNOW it’s a blessing. However, living on one income brings a new set of challenges and sacrifices.

My husband and I have always tried to be “smart spenders” and careful with our money even before having children so that definitely gave us an advantage once we had kids and more expenses. I continued working after my first daughter was born until she was about 18 months old. I then  transitioned to a stay at home mama. I always wanted to be a SAHM but didn’t think we could afford it.

So how do I afford to be a stay at home mom?!

Here are a few ways we save money so I can afford to be a stay at home mom. I think most people want to save money but often times it seems time-consuming and overwhelming to keep track of expenses and stick to a budget. I know as a busy mama, it’s not always easy to keep up with coupons or tracking every dollar in and out of the checking account. I actually need improvement on setting a budget but these are few easy ways that just keep us living within our means.

1. GROCERY SHOP SMARTLY & COOK MEALS AT HOME

With a house full of girls and daddy, our grocery bill is growing on a weekly basis. I try my best to plan out weekly groceries, even if it’s just a note I keep on my phone. While the grocery bill might increase, I’ve noticed that when I cook more at home, our monthly food bills are significantly lower than when we get take-out.

I do most of the shopping with the girls so it’s pretty common that I forget things since I’m always distracted in the stores with them. But, I’m going to try a new way of organizing separate lists for the 3 stores we mainly shop at. It frustrates me so much to go to a store one day and realize I need to go back in the same week!

I try to get most of our groceries at Aldi which really helps save on our grocery bill. It’s not always the most convenient place to shop when I have the girls since I have to bag the groceries but it is the cheapest!

2. BUY IN BULK

A huge money saver is buying in bulk! We love to buy household supplies like toilet paper, cleaning supplies, paper towels, diapers, and non-perishable food items in bulk every month. It’s a time and money saver and everyone is happy that we’re usually well stocked on all of our favorite snacks. I love that having a bulk supply of household goods means that I’m not making random trips to the store to pick up one or two things.

3. FOCUS ON ESSENTIALS

Of course, essentials are different in every family. We’re pretty good about distinguishing between our needs vs wants. We definitely splurge on the “wants” but that’s only if our budget allows it. So what do I mean? Well, we don’t have cable – seems like a staple in many households. We know it would be cool to have but we can’t afford all the “cool” things so we don’t. We have AppleTV and that’s our splurge.

I don’t often shop for new clothes for myself or the girls. When I do shop, I look for sales, shop end of season sales for the next season, and my youngest mostly wears big sister’s hand me downs.

Taking it a step further considering essentials we decided not to send my oldest to preschool this year. Instead, I home-schooled her to prepare her for kindergarten. Many families in this area, start children in preschool or a formal daycare setting pretty early so I felt a bit of pressure. But, the reality is that preschool is another expense. I was a teacher before staying home so we decided not to try and scrounge up the money for preschool and I incorporate learning time into our days.

Oh and treats like pedicures, manicures, and fancy coffees — well, those are treats for special occasions. It’s not to say that I won’t ever treat myself but I just think of how we could use that money instead so I enjoy my cup of coffee at home and paint my nails myself.

4. ENTERTAINMENT

We knew for this lifestyle to work we had to choose entertainment options carefully. 

The girls LOVE to get out of the house and enjoy activities but we mostly find activities that are free. We love exploring museums, libraries, parks, playgrounds, or inside playgrounds at Chick-Fil-A. Also, when we go places, we pack our own snacks and drinks. We make impromptu picnics just a part of the fun.

Another tip is to plan ahead and search for coupons. We wanted to take the girls to Disney World and when my hubby and I were searching for deals, we saw that Bass Pro offered a deal we couldn’t pass up. After much consideration, we took the plunge and were able to enjoy Disney for a fraction of the cost. I check for coupons for places like Chuck E Cheese and often we get more tokens for our money. Groupon has also been helpful for our family when dining out.

5. EARN MONEY AT HOME

There are many ways mamas try to earn money while staying home. I know finding the time and life balance can still be kinda tricky. But, I have many mama friends who supplement their income in various ways. I personally started health and fitness coaching with Beachbody when I transitioned to a stay-at-home mom. I loved having an outlet and something new to learn and challenge myself with.

I know there are no quick and easy solutions for a family to afford to live on one income. We have made sacrifices and sometimes I have a little worry about putting my career on hold and what that means for my professional future but I don’t have any regrets. I wish every mom who wanted to be a stay-at-home mom could be home. I remember the emotional stress I felt when I had to work every day when I had my first daughter. I enjoyed working but my heart just wanted to be home with her. I know I don’t have all the answers but I hope this gives some insight into how we make this life work!

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Pros and Cons to Finding Out the Sex of Your Unborn Child

 

When discussing whether or not to find out the gender of your unborn child, I have felt borderline bullied into keeping the sex of my baby a surprise when I was pregnant, but my husband and I decided to find out and were thrilled that we did. As soon as I discovered there was a little baby girl or boy in my belly, I felt our bond begin to grow.

But what was right for us isn’t necessarily right for everyone, and I firmly believe parents-to-be should ignore everyone’s two cents and follow their gut instinct. If all you can feel in your gut is last night’s burrito, perhaps these pros and cons will help you decide.

The pros of finding out baby’s sex

Other than sheer curiosity, here are some of the reasons parents cite for wanting to find out the sex of their baby:

  • It’s an amazing reward halfway through your pregnancy, especially if it’s been a difficult one.
  • The baby feels more ‘real’ and you start to develop a bond with it.
  • You have time to accept it if you had your heart set on the other gender.
  • You only have to agree on one name.
  • If you already have children, knowing whether they’ll have a little brother or sister can help them feel more connected and involved.
  • You can buy gender-specific nursery decorations and baby clothes.
  • Friends and family have an easier time buying gifts.

The cons of finding out baby’s sex

Some parents believe you should wait until the midwife or doctor yells out, “It’s a boy/girl!”. Here are a few reasons why:

  • The sex of your baby is one of life’s greatest surprises and you don’t want to spoil it by finding out ahead of time.
  • All that matters is having a healthy baby and you shouldn’t care about the sex.
  • You might start to develop expectations of your baby if you know its gender.
  • You’ll avoid receiving too many gender-specific clothes and toys.
  • You might not be able to find out the sex if the baby isn’t in the right position, so it’s best not to get your hopes up.
  • Ultrasounds aren’t 100 percent accurate in determining the sex, so you could prepare for one gender only to have the other.

 

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Getting Active When the Weather Breaks

It’s Spring!!! The warmer days many of us have been thinking about since the cold weather hit! However, some of us are still feeling the icy chill of winter or the continuous stream of rain. It may not seem like it now, but soon we will be enjoying the sun, barbecuing with our loved ones and heading to the pool. Below is a quick list of cost-friendly things to do once the weather breaks.

Picnic
Enjoying the warm sun, watching your kids play at the park and snacking on a sandwich can be a perfect weekend outing. All you have to do is grab a blanket, pack a lunch and you are ready to go!

Start a Kick Ball Team
Sports are a great way to have fun and socialize. Why not gather a group of friends and start your own kick ball team? Parents and kids alike can enjoy the fun. Get everyone in the spirit by getting matching t-shirts. Nothing says team like matching outfits.

Spring Cleaning
After months of a closed up house it’s time to open the windows, let in the fresh air and clean up the clutter. To get kids motivated make a game out of the day. See who can organize their room the best. If you chose to do this, make sure there is a prize for the best room. If you have toddlers at home, I know mine enjoy helping out because it is something new and exciting!

Throw a Beach Party
You don’t have to live at the beach to party like you do. Go all out and buy beach theme decorations for the occasion. Find some great beach towels and hang them around the house. Cook some hot dogs and hamburgers and you are on your way to a great beach party—who needs the beach anyway?

Scavenger Hunt
This takes some planning, but who doesn’t like a good scavenger hunt. You can set one up in your backyard, enlist the help of your neighbors for a larger scale event or host it at your local park. Get your creative juices flowing and plan for a day of fun and excitement.

Although it might not seem like it now, warmer weather will be here before you know it. It’s spring after all. Do you have any traditions you and your family like to do once the cold weather breaks? Let me know in the comments below.

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Let’s Chat About SPD (Sensory Processing Disorder)

In past blogs I have defined what SPD (Sensory Processing Disorder) is and I have also talked about the help that is out there. Today I want to focus on manipulatives that have helped our daughter combat her anxiety and OCD tendencies. Specifically the body therapy sock you see our daughter wearing in the top picture.

I must admit, they are pretty strange looking, but very therapeutic! However, if you are new to these, or just want some additional ideas on how to use them therapeutically, then keep reading  because I have done some research!

The see-through lycra/spandex “body sock” is a movement, proprioceptive, tactile, and deep pressure experience like no other. Perhaps you are wondering what to do with this “odd” looking thing. Oh, that’s easy…just climb in, close it up, and watch your body make shapes you never thought possible (among other uses which will are suggested below).

Second, you can turn the lights off, shine a flashlight (or bigger light) on them, and use the Body Sock to make crazy looking shadows on the wall. Just as you would with your hands, challenge them to use their whole body to create as many shadow animals, shapes, objects, or letters as possible (standing, sitting, or laying down). It is a wonderful creative activity that also benefits the sensory system and body awareness!Because Body Socks are see-through (and breathable by the way), you can have your child do several things. First, place the child in front of a full-length mirror with the body sock on. Have them stretch it into as many shapes as possible using every part of their body, and watch the silly looks they can create. Have them hold each pose for 10 or 15 seconds to increase body awareness, balance, and or proprioception.

Here’s another idea… have relay races with the kids in them, giving them different directions on how to move (i.e. crawl, walk like a penguin, giant steps, baby steps, slither like a snake, commando crawl, hop, jump, etc.).

Why on earth would they do these things, you ask? Most importantly, because it’s FUN! Second, because it sparks creativity and imagination. Third, because it is quite therapeutic and it feels good.

This thing will help a child with sensory processing disorder to work on “position in space” skills. They must kinesthetically feel what their bodies are doing and how they are coordinating their body movements. Watching themselves in a mirror, or creating shadows, will help them develop this proprioceptive sense , which is often dysfunctional in children with sensory processing disorders.

The last critically therapeutic activity the “body sock” provides is heavy work, deep pressure input that is both calming and organizing. Through all of these movement activities in the lycra “body sock”, they will have comfortable, resistive material to push against and have pushing against them. This will benefit both children (or adults) with tactile defensiveness as well as the sensory seeking kids (you know them…the movers, shakers, crashers, endless “energizer bunnies”!)

NOTE: The “body sock” can also be used for sensory overloaded kids or children with Autism, PDD, Aspergers, or ADD/ADHD for a calming, sensory escape! Just let them crawl into it an sit in a quiet room, or in a play tent, tunnel, or play hut , or have them sit on an exercise ball and listen to calming music or watch a favorite movie that relaxes them.

The unique proprioceptive and tactile input children (or adults) experience with the Body Sock is unparalleled! Any child with sensory processing disorders / sensory integration dysfunction can benefit!

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Children’s Mental Health Matters

This May, in honor of Mental Health Awareness Month, the Child Mind Institute (CMI) is running its #MyYoungerSelf campaign. The independent non-profit organization that focuses on the mental health of children has made videos of over 30 influential people who have struggled with mental health issues or a learning disorder since childhood. These actors, athletes, politicians and other well-known public figures share their experiences and coping tips to help end the stigma around mental health and to provide encouragement to kids going through similar struggles.

So far, videos of Emma Stone, Jesse Eisenberg and Gavin Newsom have been released at SpeakUpForKids.org. The intimate and uplifting videos allow each celebrity to offer the advice they would have given their younger self when they first realized they were struggling.

Other speakers slated to share their stories are Lena Dunham, Michael Phelps, Brandon Marshall, Keke Palmer, Nancy Brinker and Jay Leno. A new video will be released each day throughout the month. The hope is that people will watch the videos then share their own stories on social media with the #MyYoungerSelf hashtag.

So many children struggle with mental health issues and learning disorders; many try to hide them or feel uncomfortable talking about what they’re going through. I love that these videos are opening up the conversation. When you’re a kid who doesn’t feel “normal,” it’s nice to know that someone you look up to has felt the same way.

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Pregnancy Do’s and Don’ts to Keep Your Unborn Child Safe

There is so much information out there that about pregnancy and keeping your unborn child safe during the crucial development in the womb. In fact, there is so much information that it can get a bit overwhelming. While out to a restaurant with girlfriends the other day, I expressed that I was really wanting a cup of tea but that I wasn’t supposed to drink tea while pregnant. One of my friends stated that her doctor never said anything about tea and she drank it all the time. This got me thinking….why are we all getting different information and is there a place where you can go to get ONE LIST of do’s and don’ts? The answer is….NOPE! Oh believe me, there are lists and lists, but none that compile everything into one document. By no means am I a doctor nor do I specialize in prenatal care, but I am a pregnant momma who is seeking the answers for her own benefit to share with all of you and I think that the research I have done is sufficient for any pregnant woman out there.

1. Do Take a Multivitamin

I truly believe that eating a balanced diet that is rich in vitamins and minerals…which is the best way to provide your body with all of the healthy nutrients it needs to support a growing baby. A healthy diet alone, however, may NOT be enough for pregnancy. Prenatal vitamins contain higher levels of certain nutrients that expectant mothers require at higher doses, such as folic acid, calcium, and iron. These vitamins assist with proper development of the fetus and help to prevent birth defects. Your doctor can help you find a multivitamin or a series of vitamins that are best for you. It will usually include DHA and/or EPA, which are omega-3 fats that are important for your baby’s proper brain development.

2. Don’t Smoke

Babies born to women who smoke during pregnancy are more likely to have a lower birth weight and are at a greater risk for learning disabilities than children born to non-smoking mothers. Additionally, children born to women who smoke are more likely to try smoking at an earlier age and become regular smokers earlier, due to physiologic nicotine addiction.

3. Do Get Lots of Sleep

Although getting lots of sleep is tricky, changing hormone levels, anticipation, and anxiety can make sleep elusive during your nine months of pregnancy. Pregnancy is demanding, especially in the final trimester, and you will need your sleep. Take a quick snooze if you feel tired and schedule naps whenever you can. Set bedtimes and stick to them. Aim for seven to nine hours of shuteye each night. Fatigue is a sign that your body needs more rest, so give yourself all the Zzz’s you can.

4. Don’t Drink Alcohol

Alcohol may greatly impact your baby’s development. Women who drink alcohol while pregnant could deliver a baby with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS). Symptoms of FAS include low birth weight, learning disabilities, behavior problems, and lagging patterns in terms of growth and development milestones. If you need help to quit drinking while you’re pregnant, talk with your doctor as soon as possible. The sooner you get help, the healthier your baby is likely to be. 

5. Do Work Out

Gone are the days of pregnant women avoiding lifting a finger during their pregnancies. We now know that exercise is good for mama and baby! In fact, regular exercise may help you combat many of the issues that arise during pregnancy, including insomnia, muscle pain, excessive weight gain, and mood problems.

If you were a regular exerciser before you became pregnant, keep it up. Talk with your doctor about any adjustments you should make to your routine, especially as you move into your second and third trimesters. If you did not exercise regularly before you found out you were expecting, ask your doctor about incorporating a fitness routine into your day. They can guide you into a program that is safe and comfortable for you and your growing baby.

6. Don’t Eat Raw Meat

Raw and undercooked meat and eggs carry the risk of food-borne illness, such as listeriosis and toxoplasmosis. Food poisoning is also a possibility. These conditions can cause serious, life-threatening illnesses that could lead to severe birth defects and even miscarriage. Make sure all eggs and meat that you eat while pregnant are well-cooked.

7. Do Eat Seafood

This topic was one in our household as my hubby wasn’t so sure I should be eating any seafood for these 9 months. I did the research and found that seafood is loaded with vitamins and minerals, such as heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids, zinc, and iron, which are important for both mom and baby. Unfortunately, undercooked or raw seafood can also cause some problems. Seafood may carry harmful bacteria and viruses, which are eliminated when thoroughly cooked. Also, pregnant women should avoid raw fish and fish that may contain high levels of mercury, such as shark, swordfish, tilefish, and king mackerel. Eat a variety of seafood so you don’t have a concentration of minerals from one type of fish, and eat no more than 12 ounces of fish per week. 

8. Don’t Eat Deli Meat

Deli meats, including hot dogs, sausages, smoked salmon, and other cured meats, can cause food-borne illness, such as listeriosis and toxoplasmoisis. Thoroughly cooking these processed proteins well reduces your risk. It’s also important to eat pasteurized (not raw) milk and cheese, and always wash produce to help eliminate harmful bacteria.

9. Do Have Sex

Sex during pregnancy is fine, as long as you don’t have a complicating factor such as placenta previa or another type of high-risk pregnancy. Talk with your doctor if you have any questions about the safety of intercourse during your pregnancy.

10. Don’t Eat Unpasteurized Milk Products

Calcium is very important for growing babies, but us moms have to be careful how we get our calcium from dairy. Raw milk is not recommended for expecting mothers. Raw milk is unpasteurized. That means it has not been heated to kill bacteria that could make you ill. Specifically, raw milk may contain Listeria. This bacterial illness can lead to illness, miscarriage, or even life-threatening consequences.

11. Do Practice Yoga

You should avoid Bikram or hot yoga, but other yoga modalities are fine when you’re expecting. Seek out prenatal or gentle yoga classes that are designed for mothers-to-be. Instructors in these classes will know which poses are best and which you should avoid. If you were not doing yoga before you became pregnant, talk with your doctor before signing up for a class. While it’s possible you can start, it’s best to go over the risks and concerns with your doctor.

12. Don’t Sit in a Hot Tub or Sauna

Though relaxing, the high-heat environment of hot tubs, jacuzzis, and saunas may be too dangerous for us expecting mommas. In fact, research suggests that using one of these during your first trimester may double your risk of miscarriage.

13. Do Get a Flu Shot

Pregnant women can and should get a flu vaccine as long as you don’t have a contraindication as noted by the manufacturer. If you were to contract influenza during your pregnancy, the risk of severe side effects is greater than in women of the same age who are not pregnant. The vaccine will protect you as well as your developing fetus. 

14. Don’t Drink a Lot of Caffeine

Caffeine can travel through the placenta and increase your baby’s heart rate. Current research suggests that women can safely consume a cup or two of coffee each day, but forego downing a triple shot latte while you’ve got a bun in the oven.

15. Do Gain Weight Smartly

The “eat for two” advice to expecting mothers isn’t a license to eat whatever you’d like. Instead, women need to be strategic about what they eat and how much. Gaining a lot of weight during pregnancy may do more harm to your baby than good. During your first trimester, you only need about 100 extra calories a day to support your growing fetus. By your third trimester, that additional calorie number is closer to 300 per day.

16. Don’t Clean the Cat’s Litter Box

Pet your furry friend all you like, though wash your hands afterwards — but don’t clean a cat’s litter box. Feline waste is filled with millions of parasites. One in particular, Toxoplasma gondii, is particularly dangerous to expecting mothers. If you are infected, you may never know it until you begin having complications with your pregnancy. A miscarriage or stillbirth is possible. Babies who are infected with this parasite may face serious health problems, including seizures and mental disabilities.

17. Do Visit Your Dentist

Trips to the dentist’s office were avoided for decades for fear that an oral cleaning might cause bacteria to spread and lead to an infection. Now we know that’s just not the case. In fact, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynocoilogists recommends that expectant mothers have a routine oral health assessment while pregnant, along with regular dental cleanings.

So there you have it! This, I feel, is a SOLID list of do’s and don’ts. Yes there are some other things out there to possibly do and/or avoid, but this list sums it all up!

Have a suggestion, feel free to leave a comment below!