project Gabriel support group meeting.

adventures of jack and me-2


Monday is the first peer support group meeting as a part of Project Gabriel.  It is for mamas who have lost a baby through miscarriage, perinatal, or infant loss.  And any woman who has experienced this is welcome!  This is our first meeting, and I’m hoping for a time of community and for women to just gather and not feel alone.  If you are thinking about coming, please do.  I would love to meet you and know you.  And if you know someone who should come, please pass this on and encourage them to.  It doesn’t matter if it happened last week or 10 years ago.


We are meeting on Monday, April 14th at 7 pm at the Chick-fil-A at Homberg Place in Knoxville.  I am so excited for this.  And just really hopeful of what the evening will be.  Thank you for your support and kinds words.  This wouldn’t be happening without all of the support and love from you all.



let’s talk about weight loss.

Weight loss is a subject that I am very familiar with.  As a Registered Dietitian I have counseled many patients and clients about weight loss.  However, I have never really been in a position where I need to lose weight before, so I don’t know what it’s like first hand.  I think sometimes you can have all the knowledge in the world, but if you haven’t experienced something first hand you just aren’t going to fully get it.  Weight loss may fall in to that category, too.


weight loss


For the first time in my life, really, I am in a position where I need to lose weight.  Like I’ve shared, my body has been through a lot in the last year and a half.  My pregnancy with Gabriel was physically challenging, and I had the opposite problem — I had a really hard time gaining weight.  I weight almost as much right now as I did when Gabriel was born.  I lost all of the baby weight right away — within the first 2 weeks.  Then I lost another 10 pounds between June and October because I was so sick with a gallbladder that wasn’t functioning.  Before I had my gall bladder removed in October, I weighed the lowest I had weighed since middle school or maybe freshman year of high school.  Then I gained 17 pounds between October and February.  Talk about weight fluctuation.  Up and down and up and down.  That put me just a few pounds above my usual body weight.  And then I started steroids.  Which I now believe is a miracle drug — because of how much better I feel — but it doesn’t come without side effects.  Including weight gain.  I put on 10 pounds in the first month on steroids.  Hello significant weight gain.  And hello reality check.


During that month there were a lot of times that I felt really bad about myself because of my nutrition — mainly my poor food choices.  I knew I was making bad decisions, I knew I was gaining weight, I could see changes happening, but I just kept sitting in that.  Gaining 27 pounds over the course of 6 months is crazy and hard on the body, and I could feel that resonating in my body physically and also emotionally.


I reached my breaking point.  I stepped on the scale, saw the number, and realized I had to make changes.  And I know I’m not  alone.  So I’m going to share my weight loss journey here on this blog.  Because I apparently enjoy doing scary things.  But I am hoping that it will be an encouragement to anyone else who is working through this or feels that tug to get going on it.  Maybe we can do it together?  Maybe you can keep me accountable?


I will go more in depth on different aspects of weight gain, weight loss, nutrition, exercise, the emotions behind it, and whatever other random stuff you know I will throw in.  But today I just wanted to share with you that this is where I am.  In a new territory, learning things, trying to apply the book stuff and the head knowledge to my own real life.  I’m excited to share what I learn.  I am also humbled to admit there’s some ugliness in all this, too.  And I’m really hoping that I can get back on track to a healthy state.  One where I’m not concerned with numbers but with overall health.  Where I eat a really well-balanced diet and I live a healthy lifestyle.  It’s always been my passion, and I want to get back to it.


Also, I want to address this — I know that I will hear from many of you that I am so little, I couldn’t have gained that much weight, it doesn’t show, etc.  And I appreciate your kind words.  I am a petite person.  I always have been.  My Mamaw, my mom’s mom, was a short and very petite woman as was her family.  I seem to have those genes.  I have a petite frame and look like a little person, but over the past little while I have added weight on to my small frame that shouldn’t be there.  But even more than the pounds, it’s about the food choices I’m making and not living a well-rounded, healthy lifestyle.  That’s what I want to get back to.  I notice differences in the way my body feels.  There is extra skin, and fat??, that didn’t used to be there.  And the tell tale sign — when you rip through 3 pairs of jeans in 2 days you can’t help but slump your shoulders and throw in the towel.


So I hope you will join me.  Maybe if you’ve walked this before and have some tips for me, you will share with me.  I’d love to hear your thoughts.  And I will definitely share how it’s going and what I’ve learned.  So far my favorite thing I’ve learned about — barre classes.  I am obsessed.  I’ve been able to do them at home, which works really well with my schedule since I can’t get away to work out.  I also have some other forms of exercise to try out and am looking forward to seeing what is fun and works great!

spinach chicken crockpot spaghetti.

I have been slacking on cooking lately.  Tommy isn’t home for dinner, so I’m completely unmotivated to cook.  Jack and I can make do with whatever.  But the problem is that Tommy comes home later and needs to eat, and I seemed to forget about that.  Poor man has walked in more times that not since he started working these hours to me saying eat what you can find.  In an effort to avoid this again one night last week, I scrambled through my kitchen looking for what I could fix using only ingredients I had on hand.  I needed to go to the grocery store, too, so there really weren’t a lot of options.  It also had to be a crockpot meal because I was busy that day and didn’t have time to cook around the 5-6 o’clock hour.


Using frozen chicken, spaghetti sauce, spinach, canned tomatoes, and spaghetti noodles I fixed up this dish.  It took less than 5 minutes of hands on time to get this together.  That alone will make me eat pretty much anything!


I will say that this is not my favorite dish.  It was okay but definitely not great or anything special.  It was easy, and it’s pretty healthy so I like those things about it and I will make it again because of that.  But it lacked flavor.  I would add some italian seasoning to it next time and maybe even one of those spice packets just to give it good flavor.  Another thing I did was to add the noodles to cook in the crockpot because I only wanted to clean up one thing.  This worked well, but I think I would have enjoyed it more if the noodles were separate and you put the sauce, chicken, and spinach on top of it.




frozen chicken breasts or tenderloins [I used 6]

1 pound spaghetti noodles

2 cans Hunts spaghetti sauce

2 14 oz cans diced tomatoes

1 package frozen spinach


crock pot sauce ingredients



1.  Place chicken, spaghetti sauce, and tomatoes in crockpot.  Cook on low for 8 hours or high for 4-5 hours.

2.  About 2 hours before serving if on high, or 4 hours before serving if on low, add uncooked spaghetti noodles (if you want them mixed in)  If you don’t want the noodles mixed in, then cook them according to the directions on the package.

3.  Cook spinach according to directions on package then stir into pasta mixture.


crock pot sauce


Top with cheese if you want and serve!




spinach chicken spaghetti

the weekend and some poor computer skills on my part plus G’s 11 month mark.

This weekend was one of sleep deprivation.  Thursday night Jack fell out of his bed in the  middle of the night, Friday night he woke up at 3:30 crying because he had wet the bed, and Saturday night he woke up screaming at 3:30 having a nightmare.  He has some weird night terrors sometimes but this was his first nightmare.  He was convinced there was a bee in his bed and could not get past it.  So we stayed up for the night.  I felt so bad for him.  Jack woke up right as Tommy did [because he gets up that early for the outage] so Tommy got ready and left for work and Jack and I laid in my bed watching a movie.

I guess I fell asleep and Jack did not because next thing I knew Jack had a pen in my face with the cap off and Jack asking me to help him.  He had pen mark on his face and he had done some journaling.  Yesterday evening I picked up my computer [my new Macbook] to do some work and it wasn’t working right.  Nothing was saved, it looked like a totally different computer, and I spent about an hour working on it last night trying to get it fixed.  Then I spent 2 hours on it today trying to get it fixed, reset settings, and download new stuff.  None of it worked.  It was so frustrating.  Finally it dawned on me that I had left it sitting out the other night and Jack must have messed with it while he had the house to himself Saturday night/Sunday morning.  I asked him if he played with my computer, and he told me he did and that it turned colors.


So I finally called Apple hoping my brand new computer wasn’t broken and it took all of 1 minute for the very kind man to very kindly tell me it sounded like I was in a guest profile and not my normal one.  To which I said yes it did seem like that.  He asked if I was, and I said I wouldn’t even know how to know that.  He told me how to log out of it and log back in mine and what do you know, it was all fixed.  He was very nice to me and didn’t make me feel totally dumb, which was nice of him because I already felt that way.

jack is a studPlayiing outside Sunday!


I spent all of my computer time trying to fix something that wasn’t broken.  So unfortunately all I had time left to write today was this post.  I hope you had a great weekend and your Monday is off to a good start.  Tomorrow I will be back with a healthy crockpot recipe.


And Saturday was the 5th which makes 11 months since Gabriel was born.  It’s hard to believe it’s been so long.  I spent some time Saturday thinking about what it was like a year ago when I was still pregnant with G.  It’s crazy that it’s been nearly a year.  I’m very thankful for my sweet friends Amy and Becca who continue to remember and celebrate our precious boy each month with us.  I am so blessed to have friends like that.  Their actions remind me of how I need to serve others.


G's grave 11 months

thursday is the new weekend.

In college Thursday kicked off the weekend.  Although I frequently had important classes and exams on Fridays then, and I’m certainly not in college now.  However, Thursdays are my weekend now.  During outage season Tommy’s day off is on Thursdays, so it is our weekend day now and Saturday and Sunday are feeling quite similar to Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, you get the picture.


In honor of my new “weekend”, here are some good reads for the day:


Some awesome meals to fix and freeze.  Or just fix.


I mentioned these yesterday and for a light, fun read they are perfect!Sparkly Green Earrings: Catching the Light at Every Turn  and  The Antelope in the Living Room: The Real Story of Two People Sharing One Life


I always need to learn more about listening.  Not my best quality.  This is an awesome article about listening.


Wise words about loving our husbands well.  Such words of wisdom.




It’s a beautiful day in East Tennessee.  Clear, sunny skies, perfectly windy, and 75 degrees.  We are going to go enjoy this perfect weather!


i’m back and it’s wednesday already.

It’s Wednesday already, and I’m having a hard time believing it.  But I guess that happens when you sit the first day of the week out completely.  Monday is a blur — Jack and I were both exhausted, so we had a lazy day recovering from our busy weekends.


I got to spend the weekend doing DiscipleNow with the church I grew up in.  It was awesome.  I was a guest minister in a house of 8th graders, staying with a host family who poured so much into our lives when we were youth.  It is so cool to see those things come full circle.  I got to meet some awesome new people and spend the weekend studying God’s word.  It was seriously awesome.  And seriously exhausting.  It’s been a long time since Tommy and I have worked with youth, and it felt really good and really challenging to be back in it.  I told the youth minister it was like a work out that uses muscles you forgot you had.  That definitely describes my weekend.  It felt good, but I’m also really sore from it.  Good sore.  It’s also the first time I’ve done anything like this since I’ve had an autoimmune disease, so that was a different twist on it.  I think where I normally would have just been tired, I was exhausted and hurting.  But I’ve been taking it slow this week and giving myself a lot of room to just sit and rest after a busy weekend — and busy month, really.  Hence the reason why it doesn’t feel like Wednesday to me.  Monday was fantastic.  I just sat and read a book.  A whole book.  In one day.  I cannot remember the last time that happened.  If you’re looking for a light-hearted read that will make you laugh out loud I highly recommend this book. The Antelope in the Living Room: The Real Story of Two People Sharing One Life  The chapter “nilla wafers aren’t a food group” had me laughing so hard.  Jack must have thought I’d lost it as I laughed out loud.  Or that’s the good thing about a 2 year old, he didn’t care why I was laughing, he just joined in laughing with me.


It’s hilarious, as is her first book, Sparkly Green Earrings: Catching the Light at Every Turn  She has a line in there about how you buy kids a kids meal and they eat like 1/4 of a chicken nugget and then 12 packets of ketchup.  Um, yes.  Free ketchup always gets more attention than the food you paid for.


Jack had a great weekend staying with his Nan and Pops.  He loves to be with them, and I’m pretty sure the feeling is mutual seeing as how he has them wrapped around his finger.  He got a large amount of attention being with them all day Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, so I’m fairly certain he didn’t think twice about me or Tommy over the weekend.  Tommy worked the whole weekend, so he was the one not having a different and fun weekend.



I’m thinking over a lot from the weekend.  I’m not one who is good at sitting, thinking, and resting in something.  But I am learning and God continues to shape me into some different.  This is part of that.  I’m trying not to rush back into reality so quickly.  Spending time away was freeing from the every day tasks that were bogging me down.  It’s so refreshing to sit and rest and be and to look at things like bills and budgets, and bathroom cleaning and kitchen cleaning as joyous works and not burdens.


I took 2 pictures over the weekend.  This one is an elevator selfie of the students in my house, me, and another guest minister.

DNow 2014

These are some awesome people!



Hope you had a great weekend and have had a good first half of your week.



out for the weekend.

Hi friends!  It’s Thursday, which means it is the kick-off to a big weekend.  This weekend I have the privilege of being a guest minister for DiscipleNow at the church I grew up in.  I’m so excited to be back there to be a part of this amazing weekend.  I’m spending the weekend in someone’s home with a group of 8th graders.  It’s going to be great, and hopefully I will come back younger and cooler.  Although probably just older and maybe I can hope for wiser?  In all seriousness, it’s going to be a really good weekend.


So I am signing off until next week.  I hope you have a restful and fun weekend!



And check out my post today over on the Knoxville Mom’s Blog.  I’m talking about a reminder a woman in the grocery store gave me — that I’m a good mom.  Hoping I can encourage some other mamas out there that they are good mamas!

the 40 hanger project {how i got rid of a lot of clothes}.

the 40 hanger project graphic

As I mentioned last week, I recently took on the challenge of completing the 40 hanger project.  I was inspired by a couple of women on the Knoxville Moms Blog team.  Laura is completing a 50 hanger project herself and Natalie, knowing I was on an organizing mission, thought it would be a good one for me to tackle.  I love a good challenge, my closet was a huge mess, and I love organizing my spaces.  So challenge accepted!


If you saw the clip on the news last week or saw me mention it on here, here is the detailed post about it.



the 40 hanger project


When I first heard of this challenge I heard that you get 40 hangers and that’s it.  I built my own rules to fill in the gaps, so if you decide to try a challenge this like feel free to use my rules or substitute your own.



closet before full picturecloset before

the befores [yikes!!]



1st step:  Go buy hangers.

You can definitely do this project without spending any money on hangers!  I went ahead and took the plunge to buy new hangers because I have wanted matching hangers for a very long time but could never justify spending the money on them.  I’ve heard so many fantastic things about velvet hangers, and really 40 hangers is not all that many, so I went to Target and bought them.  You can also find similar ones like these on Amazon. Closet Complete Ultra Thin No Slip Velvet Hangers for Shirts and Dresses, Black, Set of 50


I found that having nice hangers — and a limited number of them — really helped with the motivation of the whole project.


These were on clearance at Target because of the color.  They were 50% off, so I snagged up all the turquoise ones they had.  I have no problem having brightly colors hangers, especially when I can pay half for them.  I did still buy Tommy the plain white ones, though, for his side.



2nd step:  Pull everything out.

I pulled every clothing item out of my closet until it was empty.  Then I sorted and started deciding what to get rid of and what to keep.


closet during


closet cleanout

3rd step:  Get rid of clothes!

I started with 124 hanging clothing items.  I did my first round thinking I had to be close to 40 and found that I was at 100.  Whew, it was a lot of work to dwindle down to 40.  But I loved it.  I had so many clothes I hadn’t worn in a very long time.  I had some things I kept holding on to just in case I needed them.  But if I had never needed them before, why would I need them now?  It felt really good to just get rid of stuff!


4th step:  Get rid of hangers.

I got rid of all of my old hangers.  Plastic, wire, fabric, my total mismatched, chaotic collection got bagged up and taken to the local thrift shop to donate.  There is no point keeping extra hangers around.  If I keep a stash of hangers around, that is only setting myself up for failure down the road to add more clothes.  Plus no one needs the clutter of all those extra hangers.


5th step:  Sort clothes to get rid of.

Some of my clothes got donated and some are going to be consigned and sold.  I separated them into piles and took the stuff to be donated right away before it got stashed somewhere and forgotten about.  The clothes to consign needed to be hung nicely and taken to the store or put online.


6th step:  Hang clothes to keep on new hangers.

This is a fun part.  It’s exciting to get stuff back in the closet and make it look really nice.


7th step:  Put clothes back in closet and organize.

Some people organize their closet by color, but that stressed me out.  I organize mine by type of shirt — starting with tank tops, then short sleeve, 3/4 length, long sleeves, sweaters, skirts, and dresses.  However you organize your closet doesn’t matter, just make it neat and systematic in a way that works for you.


closet clean out during


8th step:  Step back and admire your work!

It’s a really good feeling to see a project get completed.  This is one that you could do for free — and in fact, could even make money on if you sell some of your old clothes!

clean closet



closet organized
[I don't usually keep Junior Mints in my closet, but since it is right next to my bathroom and we are in the throes of potty training, this is a good, high place for them.]


I know this seems extreme, and it kind of is.  But I have felt for a long time that we just have too much stuff.  There is no reason I need a closet busting at the seems with clothes.  It is just plain excessive.  But knowing that and doing something about it are two different things.  So I am glad that I was encouraged to go ahead and take on this project.  If you are interested in this but don’t want to do 40 hangers, that is fine!  Just cut down to a number that works for you — 50, 75, 100, whatever.



A few practical tips –

~ I kept a lot of staple shirts, meaning shirts that I can wear year round with different pants, skirts, sweaters, etc. to get a different look

~ I used a long 5 in 1 pant hanger for my pants and I don’t count that as one of my forty hanger

~ I folded some sweaters and sweatshirts and keep them in a bin on a shelf

~ My blue jeans and t shirts are in drawers in my chest

~ I bought new hangers for Tommy’s side of the closet too.  He decided to get rid of a lot of his shirts as well.



I also bought these organizational shelves at Target, knowing it would help us to put things up there and keep our closet better organized.


I definitely encourage you to try to par down your closet.  It feels great to walk into a clean, closet and not have to part the seas to get a shirt out to wear.  I also don’t have as hard of a time getting dressed in the morning because since I only have 40 items, I like everything I have!  I used to stand in my closet thinking I had nothing to wear, but now I can walk right in and quickly pick something out because they’re all my favorites.



Another project down in #healthyandorganized2014 and I am loving the way it feels to get rid of stuff and be more organized!



the 40 hanger project


Have you done any big organizing projects lately?  Have you gotten rid of a lot of clothes before?  How many clothes are in your closet?  I want to hear!


a few fun facts about today.

1.  This kid is amazing.

JT dinner




2.  It snowed today.  Snowed.  For real.  It’s March 25th and I live in Tennessee, and it snowed today.  This time next week it will be April, and it snowed today.  Having trouble wrapping my mind around this one.




3.  We get to have some pretty sweet dinner dates while Tommy is working.  Tonight we ran out to grab some Chick-fil-A and came back home to eat it.  We sat at the table enjoying each other’s company and talking to one another.  I had been quiet for a few minutes eating, and he looked up at me and said “I want to talk, mommy.”  He’s so precious.


JT smile


So I told him to smile so I could take his picture, which he did.  Then he quickly changed to this:

JT silly face