Tacos al Pastor

Growing up in Texas, I’ve had every kind of taco under the sun– chicken, beef, fish, pork, veggie, breakfast– and they’re definitely one of my favorites for dinner. They let us all have our own versions with only one pan dirty. What’s better than that?! Ryan and I decided on tacos al pastor for dinner one night. They’re spicy, sweet, super easy in the crockpot, and we both love shredded pork! I can’t talk them up enough… Plus, this batch made enough for dinner that night for the three of us, and enough to freeze for an entire other dinner another night!

Tacos al PastorIngredients

3 lbs boneless pork shoulder roast, excess fat trimmed

6 oz (half a bottle) of beer (we used Modelo Negro)

3 chipotles in adobo sauce

1 fresh pineapple, peeled and chopped

1/2 c chopped red onion

3 T chili powder

2 T lime juice

2 T white vinegar

2 t kosher salt

1 t ground cumin

1 t black pepper

corn or flour tortillas, for serving

optional toppings: shredded Mexican cheese (goat cheese would be yummy, too), mango salsa (recipe below), red onion, avocado, cilantro

Instructions

Cut the pork shoulder into 2 inch cubes and put into your slow cooker.

Add the chipotles, pineapple, red onion, chili powder, lime juice, white vinegar, salt, cumin, and black pepper on top of the meat. Pour the beer over all of it and stir until well mixed.

Cook on low for 8-10 hours (or on high for 4-5 hours), until the pork is tender and shreds easily. Remove the chipotle peppers. Shred the pork with two forks (or use your Kitchenaid mixer with the paddle attachment on very low) and toss back into the remaining juices.

Serve on warm tortillas, garnished with whatever toppings your heart desires!

 

Bonus Recipe: Mango Salsa

Chop up the following and stir together to taste.

1 mango

1/2 c pineapple

2 jalapeños (or 1 serrano)

1 tomato

1/4 c red onion

Add: Chopped fresh cilantro, salt, pepper, and lime juice to taste

 

28 Week Update

11807132_10153471011986420_9054181888603602466_oThe last month has been a whirlwind of trips to Nashville and Texas, and getting ready to fly BACK to Texas to watch one of my best friends get his wings this week. There were definitely some major things that happened that don’t feel right putting into this post, so I’ll do a secondary post in a couple of days about those, but for now, we’re just focused on getting used to Ryan flying for his airline for real now and for the Guard, trying to get baby stuff to take over our home a little less, and finding ways for Matthew to get involved in the community and meet some new little friends.

Mason is doing splendidly! He’s healthy and happy and perfect, and we’re so, so thankful for that. I’ve been getting a bunch of really hard kicks straight out, which I could do without, but at least it’s fun knowing he’s there all the time. We’ll have our next appointment on September 10th to have an ultrasound to check the position of the placenta and set a c-section date. Eek! Exactly a month from today, we’ll know when Mason will be arriving and when our little family will grow by one more little man. So exciting, but also terrifying. I think Baby #2 has me a little more stressed than Matthew did, only because I know what to expect this time! Before, the unknown was scary, but this time, I know what’s coming and in some ways, that’s

How far along: 28 weeks

Total weight gain: 25 pounds

Maternity clothes: On, except for a few longer tissue tank tops

Stretch marks: I haven’t noticed new ones so far

Sleep: Not too horrible, as long as I take a bath with my Deep Blue/lavender bath salts and slather Deep Blue lotion all over my legs and hips

Best moment of the week: 

Miss anything: Real sushi. The cooked stuff is tasty and helps the craving, but I can’t wait to have super cold, fishy sushi again!

Movement: All the time. He’s started taking one little foot or hand and pressing it outward as hard as he can. That’s been… fun.

Food cravings: The closest thing I can think of to a craving is sprinkles, but I always love sprinkles on my ice cream so…

Anything making you queasy or sick: If I don’t eat regularly, I’ll get super queasy, but other than that, feeling pretty okay!

Have you started to show yet: Ha. I’d say yes.

Gender: Another little man!

Labor signs: Not a one.

Belly button– in or out: In!

Wedding rings– on or off: On!

Happy or moody most of the time: Happy– how could I not be?

Looking forward to: Getting Mason’s clothes washed and put away (mostly so they get out of my den)!

Homemade Lemon Blueberry Jam

One of Matthew’s Top 10 foods would probably be blueberries. Last summer, he would shovel them into his mouth with both hands, straight off the bush, as fast as he possibly could. Needless to say, I know that anything I put blueberry on, he’ll love. I decided to try making some blueberry jam for him that I would jar and use on toast, in homemade poptarts, topping on various cakes and biscuits, etc. Heck, rewarming it a little and putting it on ice cream is amazing, too!

I didn’t want to make it super sugary, though, and I wanted to add something healthier into it. Enter chia seeds and honey. This recipe is super simple but uber tasty. The chia seed acts as the agent to gel the jam and adds in some “superfood” quality, too. Local honey sweetens it up just a little (it’s only a couple of tablespoons per two CUPS of blueberries) and helps with our allergies, too! The few drops of lemon essential oil add an awesome citrus brightness to the blueberries without making it too thin to really turn into jam. Plus, it adds some awesome essential oil benefits which basically makes it a second superfood in your guilty pleasure!

Lemon Blueberry JamRecipe

2 cups fresh blueberries

2 T local honey

2 T chia seed

3 drops lemon essential oil

Instructions

  1. Combine blueberries and honey in a saucepan over medium heat.
  2. As they heat up, they’ll start to burst. Feel free to mash some if you want it smoother, but we like having some left to chew on.
  3. After 7-10 minutes of cooking the blueberries down, add the chia seed in and continue to let it cook over medium heat until it reaches a jam-like consistency.
  4. Pull off the heat and let it cool some. Once it’s warm, but not hot, add the drops of lemon essential oil and taste. Add more if you’d like it more lemon-y.
  5. Use immediately on everything or can it if you think you can stand to wait!

24 Week Update

24 WeeksLast weekend was spent in Nashville with some of my best friends in the world (who I didn’t even know were coming). It also meant that T and I could take a belly pic together! She’s due with Mason’s future best buddy, Ridge, two weeks before I’m due with Mason. It’s been beyond incredible to get to not only go through this amazing experience with her, but with my other best friend, Caitlin, AGAIN, who is due with Mason’s future girlfriend two weeks AFTER I’m due with Mason (just like Matthew and her daughter, Belle’s, age gap!). How crazy amazing is that?! I still can’t believe it. Needless to say, it was a pretty awesome weekend of food, music, and relaxing sans toddler before we’re tied to a baby for another year.

Right before we left, I had our 20 week ultrasound (a little late so that Ryan could be there). Everything looked perfect, other than a low-lying placenta. It’s not really a concern yet, unless we want to do a VBAC and it doesn’t move on its own. I’m about 85% of the way to wanting to do a scheduled c-section, though, so maybe this is our hint that that’s the way we ought to go. The doctor did say that she wants me to have a very low threshold for calling with concerns, whether it be cramping, spotting, or any other symptom that makes me feel “off” since it CAN cause issues. So far, everything has been perfect, though, thank goodness!

How far along: 24 weeks

Total weight gain: 17 pounds

Maternity clothes: On, except for my t-shirts, some tank tops, and soccer shorts

Stretch marks: I haven’t noticed new ones so far

Sleep: Awful. Restless leg syndrome is trying to kill me again this time, apparently.

Best moment of the week: Noticing how much Matthew has grown. Realizing just how quickly they grow made me miss having a snuggly little baby, but also loving every second of having a little person who actually has conversations with me.

Miss anything: Not really, actually. I’ve really only wanted fruit and veggies, all of which I can have.

Movement: Mason moves SO much more than Matthew ever did! I haven’t really noticed that there’s a pattern for when, but it’s pretty consistent all day which is so fun (at least until he starts trying to break my ribs).

Food cravings: Salads, veggies, fruit… If it’s healthy, you name it, I want it. Oh, and the last couple of nights, donuts.

Anything making you queasy or sick: If I forget to eat, I definitely get queasy. The sweet stuff, though, makes me feel a little sick, especially if I ignore my body saying “enough”. There are so many times I think I want something sweet, take two bites, and realize I don’t want any, which is beyond strange for me.

Have you started to show yet: Definitely have! It’s starting to get in the way, which is an adjustment to say the least.

Gender: Another little man!

Labor signs: Not a one.

Belly button– in or out: In!

Wedding rings– on or off: On!

Happy or moody most of the time: Happy– how could I not be?

Looking forward to: Working on the nursery/undoing the guest room. It’ll be nice to not have baby stuff floating all over the house anymore because I’ll actually have somewhere to put it!

Update on Our Crazy Lives

I have sucked at the blogging thing lately. I just haven’t had the time, honestly. I have a ton of ideas for posts rattling around inside my head (that occasionally get scribbled in my planner so I don’t forget them), but it’s been non-stop action in this house the last month or two.

Ryan got home from training and is OFFICIALLY a 747 First Officer (FO). How awesome is that?! He’s gotten a couple of weeks at home before he has to start Operating Experience (OE) with his airline. Basically, he does the same thing he did in the C-17 (flying over an ocean, landing someplace they don’t speak English, dropping stuff off, picking stuff up, rinse, repeat) but with an evaluator to make sure he doesn’t crash the 747 the first few times he does it. Makes sense to me, but it’ll be really nice for him to be done with it since he won’t be making training pay anymore and will start being able to pick his flights (as much as a super-low-seniority FO can, anyway).

IMG_9040_2

He might like his dog…

Matthew is turning into quite the little person. He cracks us up constantly, LOVES helping around the house, and definitely has his own little personality. Matthew helps us feed the dogs, vacuum, dust, put dishes in the dishwasher, you name it– entirely of his own accord. The pediatricians keep telling me a 2 year old can’t be OCD, but I’m just not convinced. One of these days, I need to do a post of Matthew-isms, if only so we don’t forget them! His dogs are his best buddies, and most days, he is what saves them from an untimely end. Hearing him make kissing sounds to call them like we do is not only the sweetest thing ever, but one of the funniest, considering they’re bigger than he is still. He definitely has his 2 year old moments, but even those are relatively quick and then we’re back to having our happy little man.

Mason is growing perfectly on schedule! We had another ultrasound last week to check anatomy, etc. He’s definitely still a boy (yay!) and everything on him looks perfect. The only concern is a low-lying placenta, which will probably correct itself as everything stretches and moves up, but she did say she wants me to have a very low threshold for calling them if anything seems off, and especially if I have any spotting. A little scary, considering the number of babies we’ve lost already, but we’re trusting God to take care of our sweet baby boy and myself and know that everything will turn out just fine. I’ve finally started to get back to my usual self a little bit, in that I’ve actually been wanting SOME sweets (even if not as many as normal) but salad still reigns as my #1 craving.

Matthew and I (and hopefully Ryan) will be headed back to Texas in August for a couple of weeks or so (dates TBD) to see the family and watch David, Matthew’s godfather and one of my best friends, finally pin on the wings he’s wanted and worked for for so long. It’ll be our last trip anywhere until a while after Mason is born (thank you, second child born during flu season) so I plan to savor my BBQ and Whataburger like never before. Ryan is hoping to come, but we won’t know whether he gets to until the end of the month, when his schedule comes out for August.

As excited as I am to go “home” for a while and see people I love, it’ll be nice to get back and know that we’re back for a while. Trips every month or two (or less) have been exhausting and made it really hard to get started on anything, since I feel like I’ll just have to put it on the back burner in a couple of weeks. For example, I’ve been wanting to start getting involved in play groups, but I don’t want to disappear for 2 or 3 weeks (adding time before and after the trip for packing/unpacking, etc.) just as I’m getting into it. I also want to get back to doTERRA and blogging, but that’s hard when I know I’ll be putting them both on the back burner when we’re in Texas, in favor of time with family. It’s as it should be, but still frustrating to feel like life is starting and stopping over and over and over. Either way, I’m going to get back into the swing of things, if only for my sanity’s sake, and just do my best to plan ahead for those couple of weeks I’m in Texas!

It’s a…

Blue Gender Reveal BoxWe’re supposed to find out the gender the first week of July, when we have our 20 (ehhh… more like 23 or 24) week ultrasound with my OB. A couple of weeks ago, when Ryan was home, we decided to go ahead and get an elective ultrasound so we could find out. With him only having a couple of weeks at home (some of which he’ll be working) in July, we wanted to be able to start planning and figuring out the nursery and all the other stuff there is to get ready. Goodness knows October will be here before we know it!

The tech put the wand on my belly and instantly, there was a little baby with legs spread wide open. It was pretty obvious that we were having another little boy! After we did the scan, we went to get a bunch of blue stuff to put into boxes and send to our families. We Skyped with each one as they opened it. The last one was last night, where my mom, dad, littlest sister, her boyfriend, grandma, and my aunt were all together for dinner. My middle sister and Ryan Skyped in from Dallas and Miami while Matthew and I sat at the supper table. It was SO much fun watching Awmaw try to figure out what the box meant, and even more fun to tell them the baby’s name.

So, without further ado… Meet Mason David!

Mason David

“Mason” comes from one of the most important places in my life, our ranch. I’ll never be able to express what the place means to me, but it’s also a tribute to my Pawpaw, who passed a couple of months ago. He was born on the ranch (“farm” back then), and he and Awmaw taught me exactly how much that land and family means. “David” is after my dad, the most amazing male influence in our boys’ lives, besides their daddy. He’s absolutely smitten by his first grandson, and I can’t imagine a stronger man to name our second little boy after.

Matthew thought it was SO cool to see his baby brother on the screen. He loves reading his big brother book, talking about “Basemen” (his version of Mason), and he gets extremely excited to say “yes” when we ask if he’s going to have a baby brother.

I can’t wait to see my two sweet boys playing together. I’ll be entirely outnumbered in this house, between Ryan, Matthew, Mason, Chewie, and Moose. I’m 150% okay with that, though!

5 Ways Pregnancy #2 is Different Than #1

Whenever I have a minute to actually think about the fact that I’m pregnant, I realize that Round 2 is SO much different than Round 1. Not in a bad way– in fact, a lot of the differences are great– just in a different way. We were incredibly thankful for both, considering what each took to get, and I think there’s just a huge relief to be getting to compare pregnancies when we weren’t sure we’d ever get a second one. Honestly, this pregnancy has been wonderful in so many ways, including most of the differences.

PREGNANCY #21. I’m tired. All. the. time.

I feel like this one applied to my first pregnancy, too, except for a couple of reasons. 1) I don’t think I appreciated the definition of “tired” the first time around. Chasing a 2 year old while the husband is gone during the first trimester (aka “hell”) in a 3 story house is no joke. I never knew my body could be this tired (or this happy, for the record). 2) I was able to rest whenever I wanted. I had the dogs, sure, but we were in a one bedroom apartment for training. There wasn’t much cleaning to do and the dogs were happy to nap anytime I wanted (and anytime I didn’t).

2. My cravings are 180* different from last time.

Ryan and I both expected me to crave the same things I did with Matthew, and I just don’t. With Matthew, I wanted deluxe chicken enchiladas, coconut cream pie, and Sonic everything. Of course, Whataburger was an excellent option as well. This round, all I want are cold, crisp salads, unsweet iced tea, veggie sandwiches (which, for the record, I never even LIKED, much less craved), and I actually have an aversion to most sweet things. Even when I think I want it, I’ll have a couple of bites of whatever it is and be done. Anyone who knows me knows that that is bizarre. I’m the girl who hid candy she stole from her sisters in her room. This is probably also helping with the next difference…

3. I’m healthier.

I started this pregnancy in better shape. I ran (intermittently), I ate better, and I lifted 30ish pounds a thousand times a day, up and down stairs, in and out of the car, etc. I ate better than I used to because I want Matthew to be eating healthy, well-rounded meals and snacks, which also means I do. Even when I’m grazing while I work on dinner, it’s bell peppers, cucumbers, cheese, and other good-for-me options. I’m still accidentally working out just by having a toddler, rather than hanging out in a tiny apartment, eating an entire coconut cream pie in a day (no promises that won’t happen at some point, though).

4. I’m chiller.

Y’all, even with the worry about baby “sticking,” I haven’t worried about this pregnancy. I know what’s coming next. I know how our appointments work. I know when we should hear a heartbeat/feel baby move/know a gender. I think it probably helps that I’m so busy with Matthew so I have less time to think and worry about every little thing with this baby. I’m still enjoying the good stuff– like feeling it move– but I’m not spending my time worrying about the bad stuff.

5. I’m not buying all the baby things.

We have most of what we need, thankfully, and even the stuff we don’t, we’ll get eventually. We have months! I don’t feel the need to stuff our house with more baby stuff, particularly since the nursery is still being used as a guest room. Our budget is certainly appreciating the lack of “nesting” thus far, even though I know that’s coming at some point! Our home, however, would probably appreciate a little bit of it since I still have about 15 boxes to unpack and find someplace to put (most of which will be given away).

Snapshots of Our Day

Okay, this post is more like Snapshots of Matthew’s day, but let’s be honest, he’s the one you people want to see anyway, right?

Mall PlaygroundBefore Ryan left, we went to the mall to get some shopping done. There was a cute little play area that Matthew wanted to go play in, so we stopped for half an hour and let him get some energy out (followed by froyo, of course). He had the BEST time running up the stairs of the “bus” and going down the slide. When he’d get to the bottom, he’d yell “weeeee!” Daddy even taught him how to climb up on the faucet. He was so excited to be able to use no hands once he got up on it by himself.

 

 

 

 

Feeding His DogsMatthew is our biggest little helper! He gets up from the couch, trashes what’s left in his bowl, puts his bowl in the dishwasher (or if it’s running, he’ll put it in the sink). Then he takes his milk and puts it in the beer fridge because he can’t open the big fridge. It never ceases to amaze me how much they catch onto just by watching us. He’s also started helping me with feeding the dogs. He’ll get the bowls for me, I’ll fill the cup with the food, and he puts the food into the bowls. Then, once they’re done, he picks up the bowls and puts them away.

 

 

 

HeadphonesA few weeks ago, we bought Matthew some soundproof headphones for when we take him to an air show. We had to be prepared in case we find something fun to do! We were a little concerned that Matthew wouldn’t be a fan since he won’t keep hats or ANYTHING on his head for longer than 30 seconds, even when he asks for them. Apparently our concern was for naught because the little kid brings them up to me anytime he spots them and asks me to put them on him. He’ll run around the house with them on for hours if I let him! Every time I see them on him, it makes me smile because it reminds me of all the times my Pawpaw made me wear some that looked remarkably similar to these when he taught me how to shoot a gun.

 

PancakesThere is rarely a food we put in front of Matthew that he doesn’t like. What can I say? He’s his dad’s kid! His favorite lately, though, are berries of basically any variety with some form of starch– pancakes, waffles, crepes, you name it. I love it because it gets something in him in the mornings besides pure sugar and starch, but it’s still right up my alley for what I like in the mornings: sweet, not savory. Sometimes, he’s my kid too, I guess!

 

 

 

 

Puppy LovinAnd of course, no post about Matthew’s day would be complete without his pups. These dogs are absolutely this little boy’s best friends. Moose lays outside his door if he’s crying and Chewie follows him around, trying to get him to play all day. Recently, Matthew has started pulling on their collars and saying “Come!” every time he walks out of the room to go to another room. He just won’t leave without his dogs! The other day, he spent 10 minutes going back and forth between the two of them, giving them “ugs.” Eventually, he settled on watching his movie while laying on Chewie and looking over his shoulder.

 

 

 

We have been so unbelievably blessed by this little man. He made us parents, and made the transition so easy. Matthew is the sweetest little gentleman in the world. He says please and thank you, he does his dishes, he LOVES to wash his hands after dinner, he reminds us to pray before meals and bedtime if we don’t suggest it first, he helps with things around the house. He’s just the absolute joy of our lives and we can’t wait to see him being a big brother, too.

 

Healthier Substitutes for What I’m Craving

SUBSTITUTESAfter gaining 60 pounds with Matthew, I would much prefer NOT to gain that with this baby. As Ryan pointed out, I DID lose that weight quickly, but I’d rather not have to even think about it. Don’t get me wrong– I’m not working out when I’m not supposed to, I’m not over-doing anything, I still allow myself whatever I can keep down when I’m feeling sick, and I for SURE let myself have the occasional treat. But, when I can, I like to substitute healthier versions of things I maybe shouldn’t be eating/drinking or just foods I’m craving. I’m not worried about the number on the scale at all. But, I simply cannot gain 60 pounds and be as exhausted as I was last time when I have a toddler to chase and a home to care for, mostly on my own. The thought of carrying a 30 pound Matthew AND 60 pounds worth of baby gain up and down our three floors makes me tired just THINKING about it!

For example, when I’m dying for some nachos, I get the thin and crispy Tosititos (a) they’re more like what tortilla chips are supposed to be b) thinner=slightly healthier). I put a little shredded Mexican cheese on it (remember that once it melts, it’ll spread out!), put some sliced jalapeños on them, salt them slightly (mostly because that’s what my dad always did), and bake them until the cheese is all melty. Pull them out, add some sliced avocado instead of sour cream (good fats!), some pico de gallo or salsa, and go to town! If you’re making this dinner, spoon some black beans on top of the sliced jalapeños before you bake them and you’ve now added great protein to it.

Pizza is another craving I try to avoid. Not only because it’s unhealthy but it’s also always felt expensive for what you get. Bread, cheese, and maybe some toppings? Er… no. Whole wheat pita bread, some of my homemade spaghetti sauce that I keep in the freezer or even just chopped tomatoes with basil and oregano, and shredded mozzarella, stuck in the oven for a few minutes? Totally fixes the craving!

IMG_6874_2I hear wine is a no-no. Sure, some people are comfortable with a glass a week or a few sips here and there, but honestly, I would prefer to just go the 9 months without it. It’s just NOT that big of a deal for me. Instead, I get our red wine glasses and some ice-cold Perrier and juice. I fill the glass most of the way with the plain old Perrier (no flavors or anything) and a splash of juice. My favorite is cranberry pomegranate, since it isn’t super sweet, but white cranberry peach, cranberry cherry, etc. are super tasty too! Plus, the fizzy drink helps me get rid of my Diet Coke craving.

I haven’t really been wanting sweets, but ice cream has always been a weakness of mine. I found these Chobani Indulgence Greek yogurt cups. My personal fave is the raspberry with dark chocolate because it’s still tart, but definitely qualifies as dessert. It’s even better if you freeze it! The other option is to make your own. Buy some plain Greek yogurt, add a little honey, some chopped fruit of your choice and you’re in business!

Do I do these subs every time I want this stuff? Of course not. But when I can, I do, because I’d rather get the nutrients from the substitutes because it keeps me fuller longer and I don’t feel nearly as lousy afterwards.

Pregnancy Journal: 13 Weeks

13 Weeks PregnantThis past week has been a lot of adjustment. Ryan left, so we’ve been working on getting into our rhythm without Daddy here. We finally got into a routine and are both doing really well. I finally have energy again (proven by the full meals I’ve actually cooked this week) and I’m feeling really great as long as I remember to eat regularly. It’s so crazy that I already have a bump, though! The good news is, I’ll probably be more comfortable on the beach in my swimsuit because I’ll actually look pregnant, not like I just had a few too many burritos. Ha!

I think the most fun part of the week was definitely feeling the baby move the last few nights. It’s been incredibly reassuring and exciting. In some ways, I think this pregnancy is more fun than Matthew’s because, despite the concerns about it “sticking,” we haven’t worried about all the stuff we did with Matthew. We know what’s coming, we know how it works, and we just aren’t worried about it. We get to enjoy the fun stuff without all the worry that comes with it.

One thing I want to start working on is finding some “Big Brother” books for Matthew. He says yes when we ask him if he’s excited to be a big brother, but I’d like some books to start collecting to read to him about it. We’re always on the look-out for new books to read and this seems like a good next category to work on filling out in our home library. Do you have any books you loved for your kiddos when they became big siblings?

How far along: 13 weeks

Total weight gain: 4 pounds

Maternity clothes: Off and on… Mostly on.

Stretch marks: I haven’t noticed new ones yet!

Sleep: Better when I’m sleeping with my body pillow to help with hip pain

Best moment of the week: Feeling baby move!!!

Miss anything: Not really, actually. Lunchmeat sounds gross, I’ve found a good substitute for wine in the evenings, and I crave things I can have.

Movement: I’ve been feeling baby move the last few days, every evening. SO reassuring!

Food cravings: Salads, mostly. Cold, crisp ones with creamy balsamic dressing. This baby is far nicer to my waistline than Matthew was!

Anything making you queasy or sick: I’ve only been queasy if I forget to eat, thank goodness!

Have you started to show yet: Yup, and I’m so happy about it!

Gender: We know it has one…?

Labor signs: Not a one.

Belly button– in or out: In!

Wedding rings– on or off: On!

Happy or moody most of the time: Happy– how could I not be?

Looking forward to: A real vacation next week with my two best boys!