Saturday, December 29, 2012

Making it Happen


Make it Happen in 2013

  • Go on 12 date nights with Jess.
  • Crochet a blanket
  • Gotta lose 20 LBs, I know, I know so cliche. But, I gotta make it happen.
  • Run a 5k. And yes Kathy N. this is my official "yes" I am doing it with you. (at least one!)
  • Blog once a week. 
  • Tithe more regularly than this past year.
  • Go see my Grandparents a lot more!!!
  • Take the kids to see Jess' Great Grandma at least 1-2x a month. She is the sweetest lady and I have grown to love her so much over the last 5 years.
  • Grow flowers, so I can have fresh flowers in the house all the time. Or so I can take them to people I visit.
  • Be more thrifty. Maybe even blog about my thriftiness?!?
  • I am going to put some nails in these wall and decorate this house. Hence the "be thrifty" above.
  • Continue to grow my Pampered Chef business.
  • Make more time for friends.
  • Just be more thoughtful and less forgetful.
  • Continue to send hand written notes to special people in my life. 
  • Do my devotional daily

These are all things that are more than doable. I will do them and will work hard to do them. Hopefully this time next year, I can click back and check off these things. 

Friday, December 28, 2012

Confessions of a Single Mama: Role Models

Its crazy to think that it has almost been a year since I became a single mama (it was in February, but close enough). 2012 was a rough/crazy/tough year to say the least, so 2013 is welcomed with HUGE open arms. As I think back to the events of last year I think about how I was feeling at that time and one word describes it all, struggling. 

I was struggling with being in an unhealthy environment and relationship and with that came the struggle of handling the pressure to remain in that relationship. What I mean by that is, I was struggling to find the courage to get myself & Ruthie out of that situation. I was struggling with the idea of what people would say about me and if they would believe me, I was struggling with the idea of what my family would think of me, I was struggling with the fact that Ruthie would not have a father 24/7, I was struggling with the fact that Ruthie would not have her biological family together ever again, I was struggling with my self esteem and self confidence, I was struggling with well..... I think you get the point.

As I look back now I ask myself, "How and where did I find the courage to get out?" I can honestly 100% say that I know if came from the male role model in my life, my Dad. Some people would question this and say it was probably the female role model in your life. While that most likely played a role too I think this is true; in a girl's life the female role model in their life teaches them what they should expect out of a man and the male role model teaches them what they deserve.

Growing up and still to this day, my Dad taught us girls how a man should treat a woman. Whether that may be his mom, his Grandma, his sister, his daughter, his girlfriend, or his wife. He did this in many ways but mainly by example. He treats my mother like a queen and his daughters like princesses and that is no exaggeration.

A male role model plays a larger role then just showing how a man should treat a woman but also just in general showing his daughters what makes a man, a man. My dad exemplifies that a man provides, protects, respects, supports, and is faithful to his family.

I am thankful for my Dad and the example he plays in my life. Because of him I was able to recognize that the situation I was in was wrong and was nothing what I deserved.

This large thought process, self reflection, or whatever you want to call it came to me when I was thinking about and talking to Jamie about why girls stay in abusive relationships? Why do girls stay with guys that don't treat them like they deserve? Like I said above I really think it stems from the lack of a positive male role model in their life. I know this may not be the case in all situations. 

I am glad that I found the courage to remove Ruth and I. Sometimes I think about what if I stayed and "toughed" it out so Ruthie could have her family? The same answer results every time; the cycle would have continued. Ruthie would have grown up thinking, that is a way a man should treat a woman and a woman is supposed to just deal with it, and so on with her children and their children.

I think a positive consistent male role model in a little girls life is so important. Whether that be a Dad, a Grandpa, a boyfriend, or an Uncle. I remember thinking at one point that Ruth & I would never need another man in our life again. But as you can see I am realizing we do and I am thankful that Ruth as two of those, Ba (my dad) & Maa (Matt). Men....can't live with em', can't live without em'. ;)

I hope this reached out not only to our female readers but also our male readers! :)

xoxo - Alexis




Thursday, December 27, 2012

Recipe: A Hit


Our Grandma Dykhouse worked at the high school as the lunch lady. She is famous for making a sour cream cut out cookie. Everybody wanted them including our friends! On all of her grandchildren's birthday she would bring in cookies. But of course this girl got french bread! (Because I am a confessed carb-oholic) And I have to tell you it is amazing! My mom then turned that recipe into pizza and pizza rolls. It was a favorite amongst hungry teenagers while I was in high school.

I use it for pizza, pizza rolls, BBQ chicken pizza, Cinnamon bread and obviously french bread. I made french bread for some neighbors and for a couple of our Christmas's. It was so much cheaper because I didn't have to go out and buy all the special stuff! If you are ever in need of a cheap dish to pass, you found it!

French Bread Recipe

2 pkg Yeast (1 pack 2 1/4 teaspoons)
1 tsp sugar
1/2 c warm water
Mix together in cup. Set aside & let double in size

Mix:
2 Tbl oil
1/4 c sugar
1 Tbl salt
2 c hot water

Add: 2 cups of flour

Mix well. Add yeast mixture, mixing well. Add 4 1/2 cup flour until blended well. Place bread dough onto floured surface & knead well. Let dough rest 10 minutes, then knead again. Do this 5 times. Cut in half & shape into 2 long loaves. Place on cookie sheet, slash tops pat with water. Let rise until doubles & bake 20 minutes at 425 degrees.

For Pizza crust knead well, cut in half and stretch of pizza pans. No need to let rest and knead with for pizzas!

When making pizza for our family I cut it in half and place the other half in the freezer. It makes for a great meal later. Thanks to Jamie for that helpful hint. Before she told me to do that I would make 2 pizzas and we would never eat them all. I know I am ridiculous.

For pizza rolls we roll out dough put all our toppings in except the sauce. Roll them up and pat with water and then put in the oven.

Anytime you take this lovely recipe out of the oven, you must slather real butter all over the loaf, crust or what have you!

Hope you enjoy this recipe as much as we do!

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

A Wonderful Time of the Year

Christmas Seasonal Cards have yet to go out. I planned on mailing them, then did not get that done. So then I was like, save on postage and hand them out at Christmas parties. Well, I forgot to take them to ALL but 1 of our Christmas's thus far. So now back to plan A. I WILL get them out this week, I hope.

Today is a nice and relaxing PJ and movie day here at the Schrocks. Jess went back to work today so we will try to keep the house under control and veg out all day! I hope you all had a great Christmas.

Here is a look at our Card. Merry Christmas, Happy New Year and Many blessings to each of you:)


Jamie did our cards this year as usual! She did awesome.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Merry Christmas!

I was planning on mailing out Christmas cards again this year, but I dropped the ball and that's not going to happen. So, I decided to just post it here. It's also my first stab at making an animated gif. Merry Christmas from the Krenz family.

Doesn't Stella look so excited to be a big sister?! ;)


Friday, December 14, 2012

Little Things

I think my hubby had it right when he said, "You look 25, but I think inside you're still a 14 year old girl." He was saying this in response to me confessing I like The Biebs (Justin Bieber). I'm owning up to my inner teenage girl now, because I'm pretty sure I'm falling for One Direction.

It all started with their song, "What Makes Your Beautiful." I was really annoyed by it the first few times I listened to it, but it grew on me. And then I became slightly obsessed. Love Bean loves it to. Then there was "One Thing" and it's just as catchy.

They just released a new single, called "Little Things." Watch the video below and listen to the lyrics. I fell in love instantly.
"I know you've never loved the crinkles by your eyes when you smile, you've never loved your stomach or your thighs. The dimples in your back at the bottom of your spine. But I'll love them endlessly" 

In comparison to the rest of today's popular music, that tends to demean girls and perpetuate unrealistic standards, aren't these lyrics sort of like a breath of fresh air? What if all popular music had this type of message? Do you think teenage and tween girls would be wrestling with some of the issues they face every day?

And isn't it all those little things, that add up to all of the self doubt and insecurity that even we as adult woman face? Plus, I think every woman deserves a man who loves the things that she doesn't like about herself.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Getting Fit

All of the comments I received on my last post got me even more excited to get healthy. It was a great push! Please share your success with me and then maybe it can inspire others as well! Thank you so much for your support!! Excited to take you on this journey with me.

But also a confession, I lose a couple pounds and I am like, "Oh that wasn't that bad. I can "treat" myself to this or that." So this past week was tough and it showed on the scale. I was up to 170.4 :( Major bummer. But needless to say I need to get my act together. Tough times are normal right? I cannot get complacent with where I am with my weight. I NEED to keep PUSHING!

I haven't stopped running at all, I just have indulged more than I had been.

I didn't even realize it, until Alexis brought it to my attention. This is the LAST time I am going to have to lose weight! No more babies equals no more abnormal weight gain, I HOPE!!!! I gotta stick with it. I will be happier.

Ok so I am no a huge breakfast fan. EVERYTHING you read says EAT breakfast. So, I have started to. I am pretty sure that they want you to eat within the first couple hours of waking to get your metabolism going. Unfortunately I always don't get that luxury. Quick, healthy breakfast on the go options? 

Anyway, breakfast today is a rice cake (no salt) with about a tablespoon peanut butter and a teaspoon of honey spread on top. Along with a side of a hard boiled egg. (I LOVE them!!)

I am not a vegetarian but I do not eat a lot of protein. Since I have started getting healthy I have been trying to incorporate ways to get that in. One way I do that is eating 1 or 2 hard boiled Egg whites with breakfast and lunch. I don't like the yolk, so I pray that the protein doesn't come from just that!!

Another way is that I bought almonds. In my last post all the comments were to add almonds & chocolate to my diet to help satisfy my chocolate cravings. I bought roasted (still no salt) and not raw. So please let me know if there is a difference! 

So I am keeping up with my running but would like to add some sort of core workout that I can do in under 15 minutes. I do not like to lay down and do ab workouts. Any great alternatives or ways to make it a little more fun!?! I don't want to work out the whole nap time, I mean that is PRECIOUS time! In that time I like to sit down and crochet, eat lunch and catch up on all my BRAVO tv. 

Monday, December 10, 2012

Quiet Time

I was thinking the other day about how most of the time on Facebook (have you liked our page? If not, you should!), Instagram and Twitter, we only share the happy times with our littles. It's easy to start thinking, "oh, that mom has it together way more than me" or "I'm such a boring mom, I never do fun things like that with my kid."

I think it's important to remember that people can portray themselves however they'd like to online. And I also think it's important to admit that things aren't always peachy. Maybe I feel extra pressure to do this because I feel like it's my social responsibility as a "mommy blogger" to make sure I'm not furthering that untruth?

My example of a not-so-great-mommy-moment? The other afternoon Stella screamed the entire time I was on a phone call (and not just a social one) and then continued to scream for about 20 more minutes after I got off the phone (minus the 5 minutes her Auntie Ally stopped by). NOT FUN. What did I do? I took her up to her crib, turned the monitor down so I couldn't hear, watched a little bit of TV and then went back up and got her about 15ish minutes later.

When she came back down, she was happy as can be. She started carrying a picture of our family around and kissing it. Maybe she just needed a good cry, or maybe she just wanted her daddy. I'll never know. But that 15 minutes of quiet time did us both some good.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Confessions of A Single Mama: Double Mama Drama



Well I am sorry to say I might have lied to you here when I told you dating might be the hardest thing about being single mom. That's turned out to be pretty easy compared to the thought of your kid having somewhat of a second mom. Now that feeling S.U.C.K.S.

About a month after we separated (I'm really not 100% sure on the time frame) Ruthie's Dad told me that he had a girlfriend. The thought of him being in a relationship already did not surprise me and didn't upset me personally at all however the thought of Ruthie being around another woman besides me in a mother/daughter atmosphere made me absolutely sick to my stomach. I hated thinking that Ruthie might think of someone other then me as her mom or that if they were all out in public someone might think Ruthie was hers...I mean obviously she gets her good looks from me right? ;) Anyway, there are a lot of struggles that come with this and my first reaction was not allowing them to see each other at all. I did not want said girlfriend around her and I told Ruthie's dad that they were not to see each other unless the relationship was serious. Honestly I think I just needed some time to cope with the fact that Ruthie may have a second mom and I was convinced the relationship was a short term thing. That's another thing I was worried about, I didn't want Roo to have a life of people in and out, so I wanted her dad to figure out if this was actually something serious.

Well it took me awhile to get over this, but eventually I realized whether I like it or not, someday I am eventually going to have to deal with it and get over this, I got myself in this situation. So I told myself to get over it an stop being such a stubborn biotch. Well that was done and turned out to be somewhat easy, but then soon after that came the question of, "Can said girlfriend pick her up for me and keep her for a couple hours until I get out of work?" "WHAT ARE YOU FREAKING KIDDING ME, HELL NO!!"...is what went through my head and possibly out loud. No way was I going to let someone I hardly even knew take my daughter alone and take care of her. If her dad couldn't pick her up then that is on him, not me.

Well then of course, I took my time to deal with it and looked at the reality of it. Someday I will have to accept that this will probably happen on both my end and his. My guilty conscience kicked in too. Ruthie goes to her dad's every other weekend, so if she misses one weekend with him then she won't see him for two weeks in a row and only 2 days that whole month. I want her to see her dad if he is going to be there and be consistent, so if I didn't let said girlfriend pick her up she wouldn't get to see him. This is when I realized I needed to swallow my pride for the sake of my daughter.

I think this a problem and struggle for a lot of single parents who have both parent's still in the picture. Sometimes it is really really super hard to swallow your pride and let the other parent win for the lack of a better word. We get so caught up in the fact that we want to come out on top, we want to be right, we want to be the one who ends up with the most that we forget to put our children first. I always tell myself even though I hate Ruthie's dad so much Ruthie is still going to love him and not matter how hard I try to keep her from him she is going to want to see him or will want to find him someday. So I just have to let her find out in her own way and form her own opinion about him because my opinion is definitely not going to be hers.

So anyways I let her pick Ruthie up that weekend but before we sat down for coffee and I voiced my concerns with her. I really hate to say this but it is true and some of you single mammas out there are probably struggling with this same topic so I am just going to fill you in. It was a blessing in disguise.

If any of you had rough pasts with your ex, like me, it may make you feel better to know that this girl will be there when you can't. I told her that I can't be there to protect Ruthie and I hope that she would step in if it ever came to that. Knowing that makes me feel a little bit better because it scares the crap out of me to know that I can't be there 24/7 for her.

Said girlfriend also asked me what Ruthie ate, what her schedule was, & when she took naps. She told me she hadn't been getting much of any naps and was on a macaroni & cheese diet the whole weekend. So I filled her in and that weekend Ruthie came home a much more rested, happier, and put together little girl. I didn't have to deal with the getting her back on a schedule or the bratty, tired, grumpy attitude. She came back with a smile on her face and her hair done all pretty :).

I am not going to lie it still isn't easy. Actually it is really annoying, stressful, really pisses me off when I see stasues and pictures of Ruthie with another girl, family, or even grandma. But I just have to remind myself it could be worse. She could not like Ruthie, treat her poorly, or neglect her. I have to remind myself every single day to be thankful that at least this girl and her family love Ruthie to pieces, that that they accept her as one of their own, and that they enjoy her as much as I do. That little girl is lucky to get quadruple the love, from Josh, Megan, Matt, & I.



Thursday, December 6, 2012

Sausage Stuffing




Today I'm sharing one of the most delicious and versatile recipes in my book. It's a sausage mixture that I originally used in stuffed pizza. One day Alexis and I really wanted it, but didn't want to take the time to make pizza dough, so we ate it on English Muffins. It was super good. We started brainstorming other ways it would be good like, in a tortilla, stuffed in wanton or egg roll wrappers as an appetizer, or mixed with egg for a breakfast burrito.

What You'll Need
  • 1 package of ground pork sausage
  • 1 carton of white button mushrooms chopped
  • 1 onion chopped
  • 1 clove garlic minced
  • two handfuls of fresh spinach chopped (if you're not a fan of spinach, just leave it out)
  • 1/2 cup shredded mozzarella
  • 1/4 cup ricotta
  • 1/4 cup grated or shredded parmesan
What You'll Do
  • Brown the sausage and set it aside. 
  • In the same pan, saute the onion and mushrooms until they are soft and the mushrooms start to release liquid. Then add the garlic and cook for another minute.
  • Drop the chopped spinach in and let it wilt down. Once it's wilted down, add sausage back to the pan, turn heat down to low and mix in the cheeses.
That's it! Super simple and fast.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Young and Living with Mesothelioma

While we were on our short blogging hiatus, we were contacted by Heather, she was diagnosed with Mesothelioma when her daughter was just 3 1/2 months old. We're excited to share this guest post with you and help bring awareness to this type of cancer. Below is a bio Heather sent us, along with her post. You can follow her blog here.



I am 43 and a mother to a quirky little 7 year old, Lily. She is my only child, and my whole world. When Lily was just 3 1/2 months old, I was diagnosed with Mesothelioma; a type of cancer that kills 90-95% of those who have it. As I’m sure you can imagine, the first thing that came to mind when I was diagnosed was my baby girl and how I wasn’t going to be able to watch her grow up.

After intense treatment and recovery, I’m still here 6 1/2 years later and cancer free! My journey with cancer was a terrifying one and I'd like to turn my pain into purpose and become someone that other people can look to for guidance, inspiration, and hope in situations like my own.

Young and Living with Mesothelioma

I had always considered myself to be a fearless person.  However, when the doctor told me that I had cancer, I was full of fear.  I was not sure if I was scared because of how quickly my joy of having my baby 3 ½ months sooner had gone away so quickly, or if I was scared because the doctor told me that I had pleural mesothelioma cancer, a cancer that is related to asbestos exposure.

People are dumbfounded when I tell them about my cancer diagnosis and its direct link to asbestos exposure.  They cannot come to grips with the fact that asbestos is not banned and that I was exposed to asbestos.  In fact, I was exposed to asbestos quite often through my father.  Because of my father’s job, he was exposed to asbestos every day. He worked with drywall taping, mudding, and sanding; all of these materials had asbestos in them.  Therefore, each night when he came home from work, he would bring the asbestos into the house.

The reason my mesothelioma diagnosis differs from the previous people diagnosed is because I was so young.  I was only 36 years old, and I have never worked in trades that were linked to asbestos exposure.  These trades included plumbing, heating, and mechanical work.  Sadly, the wives who washed the clothes of their husbands who worked in these trades were also diagnosed.  These wives would shake the clothes before washing them, and the asbestos would fly into the air they were breathing.

Today, more mesothelioma patients are in their late 20’s and early 30’s.  They were used to their fathers coming home from work with asbestos covered clothes.  They did not know or understand asbestos, so they would hug their fathers, or put on their fathers’ clothes, or just stay around their fathers while they completed house repairs.  All of this exposure to their fathers and his clothes also exposed them to asbestos.  Today’s generation of mesothelioma patients are just embarking on new adventures that have to stop because of the mesothelioma diagnosis.  There is a hope for more survival because of treatment advances.

When the doctors informed me that I had cancer it was devastating. However, I am able to hold onto hope. The mesothelioma community is a strong community.  It is a community that allows all mesothelioma patients to converse with one another about their experiences, including supporting one another, crying with one another, and celebrating with one another.

Some people have questioned why I choose to do what I do.  Others have questioned why I choose to share my story.  I respond by telling these people that I want to bring awareness to mesothelioma.  I want to have hope that awareness will lead to change.  If what I do and the story I share allow someone more hope as he or she battles this disease, then I know I am doing the right thing.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Christmas Countdown

Last Christmas, Nanner (our mama) made all of her grand kids Christmas Countdowns. Each day has an activity to do with the kids. Last year, Love Bean was only three months old, so I was stuck doing stuff alone or just skipping it all together.

This year, she'll be able to enjoy many of the activities, so I'm really excited about it! The countdown started on Saturday with "Make a bird feeder and hang it outside for the birds." I didn't plan the activity out ahead of time very well, and we were stuck using what we could find around the house. I had bird seed left over from last year, and I sent Tim out into the yard to find pine cones. Apparently, we only have small round pine cones, so once Tim tied a couple together, and we rolled them in peanut butter and bird seed, they ended up looking a little bit like...well take a look.


On Sunday we listened to Christmas music and yesterday we had a popcorn party and watched a Christmas movie. We picked Elf. Today's activity is "decorate your Christmas tree" we got our tree on Sunday, and it's already decorated, but I think Love Bean and I might make a few ornaments today and hang them up.
I'm looking forward to continuing our Christmas Countdown tradition every year. I can't wait to see how much more excited Love Bean gets as she grows older.

The Schrock's have been doing the same thing. We have had make a bird feeder (which I was totally not prepared) and we have yet to do that. Well the real story is that my kids are hellions and found the bird seed and spilled them ALL on the floor of our back porch. . . three weeks ago. And yes, they are still there. We have also decorated our tree, had a hot chocolate party and watched a Christmas movie and had popcorn. 
We made those ornaments last week, so they were so excited to finally get to hang them on the tree. And yes I did not buy enough lights for our tree. I will be purchasing 3 more strands on Thursday. 

On the tree topic if you are looking for a tree, Spitzley's Tree Farm in Mulliken is the place to go. $28 to cut your own tree and the kids have so much fun running/falling through the tree. Beware though if you have a husband like me prepare for a hour of searching for "the perfect tree". Seriously though, we saw every single tree.

Any holiday traditions you have with your family??!


Monday, December 3, 2012

The Dreaded Weight Loss

Weight loss. . . 

Ughhh, if only it was easy. There comes to a point, for me at least, where I just get sick of how I feel/look and am ready to do something. Well that kicked in for me about 2 weeks ago. 

When Rae was about 6 months I decided to join Weight Watchers. I was very successful with that too. But, you have to pay like $40 a month. 

Just to lose weight!?! It seems ridiculous. I know what it takes and I just have to do it. So I downloaded an app that is similar to WW. And decided I could do it on my own. So I began to "track" everything I ate and drank. The first thing I did was decided that pop was going to have to be cut down by 90% of what I drank. (I was drinking 32-60oz of Dr. Pepper a day) I don't do diet so that is what I have to do. I also decided my carbs were going to have to be cut significantly. 

Setting goals would get me to where I wanted to be. I decided by December 7th I wanted to lose 5 pounds. That was 4 weeks to get my butt in gear. 

The first week I was great with tracking and no pop. I didn't really exercise but I still lost 3.2 pounds. I was STOKED! Ahh finally a little relief I CAN do it. 

The second week was Thanksgiving week. (Did I mention I weigh in on Friday mornings, the day after Thanksgiving) I was really determined to still lose weight. So I started to run Monday and it sucked! I was like this is why I hate running. I ran Monday-Thursday and took Friday and Saturday off. Then when I ran again Sunday I felt great. Other than the burning in my lungs because it was so cold. 

I lost another 1.8 pounds during that second week. I am motivated and ready to keep losing. 

Week 3 went fairly well. I had a rough weekend eating a lot of pizza and had some Mountain Dew to go along with that. But Sunday I jumped right back into it. Can't get down because of one bad day. I love another 2 pounds this week AND even had Olga's. I am excited and ready to loose more next week. 

I guess I probably should give you the numbers though, although I am embarrassed by them. I don't even tell Jess how much I weigh. It is really weird because I am more confident than I have ever been in my own skin. But the weight I am at is not healthy. I want my kids to grow up and have a healthy example to follow. 

My starting weight was 175.8 and I am down to 168.8. I have thought about taking measurements and see how many inches I lose. But I for sure will not keep up on that. 

I have tried loosing weight since Gatlyn but never got under 170 pounds. So I am SO excited to finally have broke that. I do not plan on going back either. 

I have met my first goal a week early. I am looking to lose another 5 pounds by December 21st. I will let you know when I make that goal! Hopefully sooner rather than later!

For pictures of what I looked like at my heaviest take a peek at these.

On the lines of working out. I. HATE. IT. Although, the feeling afterward is nice. I run because I feel like it gets done faster 

Any good snack ideas that can help curve my chocolate needs though?!?!

Friday, November 30, 2012

Friday Family Favorites: Veggie Tales!


Veggie Tales is definitely Roo's favorite cartoon to watch. We probably watch it on average of 3 to 4 times a day. However keep in mind some of those are Ruthie dancing to the song she likes, leaving and playing, and then running back in to the living room as soon as she hears the next song she likes. It is getting fun to watch her get into movies and try to repeat some of the words they are saying. It's actually quite impressive she can say some of the lines right on que....or maybe that means to much screen time?? lol. Anyways we love the Veggie Tales movies because they; A. have great story lines . and B. They are fun & interactive and Roo LOVES to dance :) Keep in mind they would make great Christmas gifts!!



Thursday, November 29, 2012

Gifts for Love Bean

Last year we only bought Love Bean one gift plus a few little things, like hair bows, for her stocking. This year, we're planning on moving toward our plan on doing for Love Bean and other future children when they're old enough to get into Christmas.

Love Bean will get 4 gifts, plus her stocking. We haven't really decided how Santa is going to factor in—not sure if he'll leave a couple of the 4 gifts, or if he'll bring a couple extra. But we have a little while before we really need to have that figured out.

Gift #1: One thing she needs. Like this year, it will probably be toddler plates. This gift must be something she actually needs, even if it's not a fun gift.

Gift #2: One thing to read. This one doesn't really need to be explained, she'll get a book every year. This mama loves books in the house.

Gift #3: One thing to wear. I love buying clothes for Love Bean, so this one would probably realistically read, "one outfit."

Gift #4: One thing she wants. I don't think this one needs much explanation either. When she's older, this one will be something she really wants (within reason).

I think this gift strategy will work pretty well. This year, I think Santa will bring one of her 4 gifts. We'll see what happens when she gets older though. Maybe he'll bring one or two more of her wants.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

March of Dimes


November is National Premature Awareness Month

For obvious reasons I am very passionate about this. There are babies everyday fighting for their lives. 

The Hard Facts:
  • The United States ranks 131st out of 184 countries with a 11.7% rate of preterm births. 
  • More than 500,000 babies are still being born to soon each year in the US. 
  • 1 in 8 babies are born too soon.
  • Every 30 seconds a baby dies from being born prematurely.
  • Michigan itself received a "C" on the 2012 Premature birth report card. Here is Michigan's Report Card.
You can help when you donate to March of Dimes. The March of Dimes fights for babies every day, they are active in hospital NICUs, offer essential education for mothers-to-be, and fund lifesaving medical research.

We want to give a big thank you so everyone who supported us last year as we walked a 5k as Team Gatlyn. We were the Second Place Family Team in the Grand Rapids Division! I was so excited to receive a plaque in the mail the other day saying so. Along with the date of the 2013 March for Babies. Which will be April 27th. We are excited and ready to start earlier this year on getting funds around and to try to beat what we raised last year, $3,185. We will keep you updated on what we are going to be doing for that. 





Mark your calendars and lets make Team Gatlyn the #1 family team. Thank you!!

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Mama's Cookin: Spicy Thai Beef


A quick easy go to meal that is simple and delicious. This recipe is great for those nights or afternoons when you really don't feel like or know what to cook and your to feeling to cheap to order out :). It's a fav in both the Krenz and my household. Enjoy!

Spicy Thai Beef
3/4 lb ground beef
1/2 onion, chopped
6 green onions, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 tsp crushed red pepper
3 carrots, thinly sliced
1/2 red bell pepper, chopped
1 cup rice
2 TB soy sauce
1 tsp Asian fish sauce
1/3 cup fresh chopped cilantro

I would just like to say I have made this various times with various combinations due to the lack of ingredients and it has turned out delicious every time.  I have never made is with the Asian fish sauce because I never have it. Sometimes Jamie adds celery in hers. Matter of fact I have never made it with the cilantro either. Hahaha maybe I should try making it correctly myself?

Heat a heavy medium post over high heat. Add beef and saute until browned. Add onion, green onion, garlic, crushed red pepper, and 1 TB of soy sauce. Saute another 2 minutes. Add carrots, red pepper, rice, 2 cups water, fish sauce (is using) and remaining soy sauce. Reduce to low heat cover and simmer for 20 minutes. Add cilantro and mix well and keep covered for 10 more minutes.

WARNING: It does slightly look like dog food (thats why I am not including a picture :)) but I promise you it tastes better. I like to throw a little hot sauce on mine, but to each their own!

Monday, November 26, 2012

Home

For about 6 months for me and 8 months for Jess are life was going about 100 miles a hour. For me when Gat was still in the NICU I didn't stop. I was not ever home nor did I want to be. When it came time for Gatlyn to come home I was so ready to just be at home with our family.

Well folks, that just didn't work quite like I thought. I couldn't stay home still. My body needed a few months to unwind and realize that I could just stay home. I used to be (okay up until a month ago) constantly having to do something. But about the last month I have decided to stay home more. To be honest in the beginning EVERYTHING was going better. My house was under control most of the time, kids behaved better, and dinner was on the table at night.

Of course I have had a few lazy days here or there. Or those days when I realize in a hour Jess will be home so I do a 15 minute overhaul! Don't laugh, you know you are guilty too! But I just feel better when I am home. UH oh, I think I am sounding like my mom. Not that it is a bad thing or anything. 

Am I alone in this? Am I becoming a hermit? Going crazy? 

Plus I am 10x more on top of everything when I am actually home. I am more organized to. All these months I have tried to be organized and staying home for a month has got be further than all of my trying thus far. 

Don't get me wrong though I do leave the house when it come Thursday or Friday. I need more socialization than just sitting with these young ones all day. 

Big bonus on not driving a different place everyday, we save $$! Less gas, candy, pop and fast food. 

Although I do need my time away, I really need my time home. And when I am home my family is happier and the day goes better. When they are all in school I will be able to go and go, for now we need to chill out:) 


Oh yah, and btw we are back:) And better than ever. Thanks to a great collaboration by all of us for a new design and Jamie who can put it into motion. 

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Pumpkin Carving


This is the first Halloween, in the 7 years that Tim and I have been together, that we carved pumpkins together. It was also Stella's first year carving pumpkins, since we didn't do it last year.

I thought it would be fun to make carving our pumpkins extra special, so I put together a last minute  carving party for just the 3 of us. We built a bon-fire, roasted hot dogs, and ate donuts while we carved our pumpkins. Stella was so cute carrying her tiny pumpkin around, and helping me clean all of the "guts" out.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Family Favorite: Kid's Book



Love Bean likes to read the same three books over and over again, Brown Bear Brown Bear, Oh The Thinks You Can Think and My Big Animal Book. But, Time For A Hug is slowly making it's way into the mix. I chose to feature it today, because it's one of my favorites to read to her. We've read it enough that, even when the book isn't around, I can say, "What time is it?" and she'll give me a hug. It's super cute!


Family Favorite Fridays is a new series, every Friday we'll be posting one of our family favorites, it could be anything, like a game, book, recipe or song.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Submit Your Own 20 Question Answers!



Our 20 Questions for Twenty Something Mamas series was a big hit! We're now opening submissions to any twenty something mom who would like to be featured on our blog. If you're interested in submitting your own answers, copy and paste the questions below into an email and send your answers and any pictures to 20somethingmamas(@)gmail(dot)com. If you're a fellow blogger, please feel free to include a link to your blog.

Read other's answers to our 20 Questions; Alexis, Mallorie, Jamie, Jackie, Angie, Amanda, Sarah and Morgan

1. Tell us a little about who makes your house a home.
2. What's a typical day in your household like?

3. How has your lifestyle changed since having children?
4. Have you ever felt the need to defend your decision to start a family in your 20's?

5. What's the most challenging thing about being a mom, and what's the most rewarding?

6. 
How are household chores divided up in your family?
7. How do you find a balance between your commitments and family time?
8. What's your most embarrassing mom moment?9. Who (or what) has influenced your parenting style the most?
10. Since becoming a mom how have your friendships changed? Have you made new friends, strengthened friendships, or lost friends?
11. How do you fit in time for your romantic relationship?
12. What's one piece of advice you have for future/new moms?
13. What's your childcare set-up and why does it work for you?
14. Do you ever get time to yourself?
15. What was the toughest adjustment going from 1 to 2 or 2 to 3 kids? If you only have one child what was the biggest adjustment after baby was born?
16. 
Has having children changed your relationship with food?
17. What are your plans for your child's education?

18. How is discipline handled in your family?

19. If you could change one thing about your current set-up, what would it be?

20. Finish this sentence, Before having kids, I wish I would have known….



Monday, October 22, 2012

Down With the Sickness


I have to shower to be productive, therefore today I have not been productive. I have not showered because I DON'T HAVE A WORKING SHOWER!!! Ahhh! It has only been out a couple days but still. I like to take showers, not short showers, like LONG, QUIET showers. We are remodeling our bathroom that had an old leaky tub. 

I am going to add in the fact that I wanted our bathrooms remodeled before we moved in and obvi that didn't get done. So we they are doing it now. 

Anyway, this means I have to decide on what colors I want to put in the bathroom upstairs. I have an idea of what I want, but not quite sure. BUT, this means the organizing that I just did, now means nothing. BLAHH!! We have been talking about doing it for awhile and then all of the sudden Jess took me to pick out a shower/tub and we are off. I was not ready for this but we are in knees deep anyway. 

On a different note we have had 3 of us get the flu bug. So last week pretty much sucked. Now that I have had it, I can rest easy a little bit. I seriously woke up Tuesday thru Friday wondering when I was going to get sick. Last Monday I started cleaning up puke around 3 am from Jo, then of course Rae woke up at 4 am. Because 2 is always better than 1, right? NOT!! Needless to say I chased Rae around with a bucket until 3 pm that day. Toddlers + Puke= NO fun. Then of course Rae woke up again on Wednesday puking again. Wish you were a Schrock don't you? So Gat and Jess are the only two left. Say a quick prayer for a healthy house please. . . Thanks!

I thought I would share a recipe with you that I made the other day. Jess' dad and grandpa were working on the bathroom so I made soup. 

I tend to change recipe's here or there and take shortcuts. So I am giving you my version.

Chicken Noodle Soup from Betty Crocker Country Favorites

2 tablespoons olive or vegetable oil
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped 
1 cup onion chopped

It calls for 2 Tbl green onion instead of the onion but I didn't have any. It also calls for 1/2 cup sliced carrot which I didn't have either. 

Put all of above ingredients in 3 quart sauce pan and cook until tender. 

Add in rest of these ingredients:

2 cups cubed chicken
4 ounces egg noodles (I bought frozen)
1 teaspoon dried parsley (1 Tablespoon fresh)
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 bay leaf
3 can (14.5 oz) chicken broth. 

Heat to boiling, reduce heat. Cover and simmer for about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.

I served with french bread:)

I used boullian cubes to make my broth. My package of egg noodles said to cook for 20 minutes so I cooked my a little longer. And because of the massive amount of noodles and chicken I had I added more broth.

This didn't take long at all. I have made my own egg noodles before but, I got mine on sale this week plus had a coupon, bonus! Let me know if you try it and what you serve with it!!

Friday, October 19, 2012

Family Favorite: Kid's Game



At the Schrock household we like to play games. Now that Jo is getting older we like to sit down and play a game with her when we get the chance. This tends to happen when the other kids get put in bed first though, I think that is for obvious reasons. We play memory. Jo is good at it so she wins once in awhile.

That brings me to another topic though. We do not let Jo win any game by taking it easy on her. I am sure some people think this is ridiculous. But we are firm believers in the fact you need to know how to  win and lose. We do not want to have a little girl that pouts every time she looses at something. So, this is our way of teaching her "how to lose". 

Believe me though, there are some times where she wins. Actually more times then not she wins at memory. I think we need to teach her how to win more gracefully though. She does not take it easy on us by all means. 

When looking or thinking for Christmas gifts for your 4 year olds and older look into memory. Just beware that you may not get to win at it. The little ones are way sharper then we are. . . well maybe I should just speak for Jess and myself;)

Family Favorite Fridays is a new series, every Friday we'll be posting one of our family favorites, it could be anything, like a game, book, recipe or song.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Making Food Fun

I will be the first to say I am not the best mom when it comes to feeding Ruthie healthy food but I can say I do try. Some days better then others. We tend to get in food ruts, this includes us eating the same things for a couple days in a row. What kid wouldn't get sick of ham and cheese slices daily?

Ruthie is a great eater and will eat almost anything I put in front of her. I have noticed however that some days she eats more then others or some days likes something and the next claims to not like it by pushing it to the side of her tray.

With that being said I have come to conclusion that I am a firm believer that its the way food is presented to her that really determines if she's going to eat a lot of it or not. I have a few examples to share with you and perhaps they'll work with your kiddos. I've noticed, Ruthie eats more when the food is fun.

Breakfast: For a while there we were stuck on a two egg and piece of toast diet. But 1. Two eggs per morning puts you at more then a dozen a week, which can get pretty expensive. 2. That's just boring & I found Ruthie eat less every morning.

So to solve that I cooked up what I like to call candied french toast. I'll take one egg beat and add a little milk to make it go farther. Then I will cook up one piece of french toast. I then cut the french toast up into little squares and then put them in her bowl and toss them with JUST enough syrup to candy coat them. I then take the left over egg batter and scramble up some eggs and put them in another bowl beside her. Let me tell you breakfast has never been so easy. I know she likes it because its gone before it can make it to her hair! I really think its the candied french toast, she just picks them up and pops them in her mouth and replys with a mmmMMmmm. And that makes up for an easy clean up! That's just one of the breakfast options I have found to make breakfast time a little easier.

As for lunch or dinner or supper (whatever you like to call it, my brother in law Tim could talk hours about that topic but we'll just leave it at that)

Just a few things I have noticed.

Celery: If I gave her a stick of celery she would continue to suck and string it apart eating practically none if. But it I cut it up and dice it she pops them in her mouth and loves to hear them crunch!

Sandwiches: These are a big struggle. Apparently to her two slices of bread with something in between means pull apart the bread and lick both sides and leave the bread on the tray. But I did find and try this grilled cheese roll ups on pinterest and they actually worked. Rather then pulling it apart she just bit off the roll. They were fun and delicious I might add, I had to try a couple too.


Have any good meals or tips that help your kiddos eat more at a meal? Please share!!

Monday, October 15, 2012

The Parent Rap

Have you watched this video? It's pretty hilarious, and spot on. Enjoy :)

Friday, October 12, 2012

Pampered Chef

So you may think I am crazy but I am starting a Pampered Chef business! I am so excited about doing it too. Why am I excited about it you ask? Let me tell you.

  • I flat out LOVE Pampered Chef products. Seriously though, I didn't even notice how much PC product I had before I started selling.
  • I get some time just for me where I can talk with adults.
  • I want people to LOVE it as well.
  • Also being a one income family money can be tight. This is a fun way for me to pitch in.
I have had one cooking show thus far and I enjoyed it. I also really enjoy talking to the people on our PC team. 

Best discovery thus far. . . 

I have had a deep covered baker since we have been married. I thought it was one of those "use once a month pans." There are so many more things this baker can do!! 

First off it is a PC stone (which I am currently loving!) and secondly it can go in the microwave. And no, it does not taste like it either. I made a baked potato chowder the other day in it and it took 25 minutes. Anyone that has ever attempted to make baked potato chowder/soup or what have you, knows that it seems impossible to do that. 

There are three types of shows you can do if you are interested. A Cooking Show, Catalog Show or an Online/Facebook Show.


If interested in the upcoming host and guest specials please let me know:)

You can contact me via Facebook or email: mschrock89@gmail.com

September Love List


Like last month, this September we all have pretty similar Love Lists. So, we're just doing one joint list.
  • Stella turns 1 on the 20th!
  • Family vacation in South Haven
  • Little brother turns 20 on the 25th
  • Our cousin Kasey is getting married
  • Mallorie's new Pampered Chef venture
  • Mallorie and Jamie start their Fantasy Football league
  • Season premiers of some of our favorite TV shows (Modern Family and Once Upon A Time)
  • Jamie's friend is getting married
  • Baby shower for another one of Jamie's friends

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

It's My Birthday Peaches!


Standing 27 inches tall and weighing 17 pounds 4 ounces here comes Gatlyn Tobias! (ok so he isn't standing, but please tell me you said that with an announcer's voice!)
Amazing to think he started at 2 pounds 6 ounces and only 13 inches long.

One year ago on the 9th Gman, Gbaby, Gat, Gator, Cowboy or even sometimes called Gatlyn came into this big world. When I think about writing this post I think of the hardships we have faced this year. But, I don't want to just think about that. I want to think about how he overcame all this, how we did. When I think back and when I read back through old blog post, I realized some things.

Gatlyn is a miracle, all the odds were against him and God gave him to us. If you don't believe in miracles, look at Gatlyn. If you could have seen him about 11 months ago, you would never believe where he is today. 

I love the fact that this blog started because I needed a place to put how I felt into words. Through what I thought at the time would be the hardest 11 weeks of my life was really just the calm before the storm. Little did I know what the devil had in store. Gatlyn was brought into the world after 8 weeks on bed rest. God would never want this to happen to Gatlyn, we just have to be so thankful God won this battle. I am so aware of the angels surrounding us each day. The angels that were holding Gatlyn in their arms for those awful three months when I couldn't. 

Even though we couldn't hold him at first it was just so awesome to see him alive! Jesse was able to hold Gat after a week. I got to 2 days later then Jess. It is crazy to think back to that time. We were just so happy he was doing so well. He was defying all odds at the time. We were told of this infection call NEC but never once thought it could happen to Gat. He had been through a lot already. 

Our luck turned down the wrong path and finally on November 9th they decided to emergency surgery on him. I remember that day like it was yesterday. It was so scary to think that your child is so sick that if he didn't have this surgery then he may die. Or even worse he could still even not make it through surgery. I received a text on the way to the hospital from a good friend of ours and a prayer warrior, it read May God's will be done for Gatlyn. (or something along the lines of that) While driving (me riding, Jess driving) to the hospital I was thinking no, he would never do this. He wouldn't take our baby away now. What if that is what God's plan is? What if we were only supposed to have him for a month? But thinking like that would get me nowhere. So I prayed, I don't know how long or how many times but I just kept saying, "Please don't take him. Please. Be the hands of the doctor. I don't know what to do. Please I need peace." It was like on repeat I just kept praying this in my head over and over. 

Now to the happy part, because I didn't want this to be a downer I swear! (But hey, when the words flow, they flow.) We walked in and saw all of these doctors/nurses/specialists surrounding our 3 pound baby and my heart dropped further. But once I saw him, I just felt it was going to be okay. I felt the angels around us. I knew that Jesus was by his side and helping him hold on until the surgery could be done. 

We got to go into a different room with Gat while they prepared everything for surgery and we just held his hand. I hadn't really gotten to kiss him even so I just kept kissing his head. Telling him we loved him. Jess was nervous I could tell, but I could see he was praying too. What seemed like forever but was only a short 10-15 minutes we sat waiting for the surgeon. He came in and made us feel ready for anything. We left that room and were at peace. I didn't have a doubt after that, I knew Gat would make it. We were getting to keep our baby boy longer. We sat in that waiting room for around 4 hours waiting for the news. It all came back very positive. Although we still had a lot of hurdles to cross I was ready to see him. Wanted to kiss him again, let him know we were there for him. 

Geez louise I never meant to go into this much detail! But I just don't think I ever could put into words some of the hardest times until now. 

But for you to fully understand why we are so excited about some of the things we are, I wanted to share that day with you. Although I can never fully comprehend everything that we have been through nor tell all of the "God sightings" we had while going through some of these times. I can tell you one thing for sure. God had his hands ALL over us. I had faith and faith is what got us through. 

I think back and thank God for giving Jesse and myself clarity in the decision we had to make. For guiding us and the family around us to help us make decisions that literally were life altering. Even more thankful for him keeping our heads just clear enough to comprehend the information we were given daily on our son. I can only imagine if my head was spinning the whole time (like it has been for the last six months) what I mess I would have been in the hospital. I am thankful for the nurses, doctors, secretaries and kindhearted staff at the NICU. I am SO thankful for our wonderful family who made it possible for us to do what we needed to do as parents. A a HUGE thank you to all of our Twenty Something Mamas out there, your kind words and encouragement means the world to us. (Not just regarding Gatlyn but we love when you give us feedback in general:))

After a long talk with J yesterday, I can't look back and look at the what ifs anymore. It's time to move forward. We had to make choices daily that would affect us later on no matter what. If I would have been at the hospital more I would have wished I was at home. There is no other way to think than just straight up be thankful. I am so thankful. 

I may be partial but we have a beautiful family of 5. We have a bossy, funny, sarcastic Jo who has a whole lot of attitude to boot. Rae makes me laugh and want to pull my hair out daily. (I swear I am gonna be all grey soon!) A Rae who walking into Target todays says, "MMM, I shmell shfriiiess." 
The little boy who I called Cowboy from the beginning because he was the toughest 2 pounder I know. The Cowboy who makes me smile and when I look at him I think of God. The little boy that is now eating a half jar of baby food at a time. When you look at him you can't help but smile. To be quite honest I will have a hard time disciplining this one!  How can you tell him, "No!" When he grabs your glasses or hair when two months ago he couldn't even do that. 

Thanks for your prayers and please continue to pray for him to cross each hurdle that comes his way. 

Our readers are the best and the support is awesome! 



Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Happy First Birthday G Baby!

Today is Gatlyn's first birthday! Many of you know Gatlyn's story, and that he is and always will our family's miracle baby. Mallorie started this blog while in the hospital on bed rest as a place to release all of her emotions, fears, and hopes for her and her family. As you read, you were with her through all of that.

Holding Gatlyn for the first time!

In honor of his first birthday, I'd like to share Gatlyn's story, from his Auntie J's perspective.

I remember the day Mallorie's water broke like it was yesterday. She was 20 weeks along, that's only half way to full term. It was the morning after I returned home from a trip to Michigan, I hadn't even been back in Chicago for 10 hours. I was heading to work when I saw I had a missed call and voicemail from my mom. Though my mom didn't say what was wrong, I could tell by her voice it was bad news. I called her back, she told me something along the lines of, "Mallorie's water broke, she's at the hospital, the doctors say there isn't any hope and she'll most likely be delivering a still born today." It was really hard to believe, considering I had just saw her not even 24 hours prior. I got off the phone with my mom, called my boss at the time, told her what was going on and that I wouldn't be coming into work. I needed to go be with my sister. My little sister was facing something terrible, and if I wasn't going to be able to make it better I needed to at least go sit with her. I jumped on a bus, headed to Tim's shop to get the car and took off back to Michigan.

That 3 1/2 hour drive never felt so long in my life. And a lot happened in those few hours. My dad went into protective papa bear mode and had Mal transferred to a different hospital that was better equipped to handle such a high risk pregnancy. I was on and off the phone with my mom getting minute by minute updates about what was happening. The timing worked out so that I was the first one to meet Mal and Jesse at DeVos and I was able to be an extra pair of ears when the doctor came in to talk to them. We went from having no hope at all, to having hope in just a day's time.

In the coming days Mallorie and Jesse would have extremely tough decisions and sacrifices that would have to be made. Decisions that I couldn't even fathom having to make. I don't know if I ever really verbalized this to anyone, but for a little while, I had a really hard time dealing with all it. I felt guilty. You see, I was pregnant with Stella at the time. Having a completely healthy, uncomplicated, easy pregnancy. I struggled with "why her and not me?" "they've already had so many struggles in their lives." and "why do I have to live so far away, I wish I was closer so I could just go be with her." Stella and Gatlyn would end up being only 3 weeks a part. If Gatlyn would have been full term, they would been 3 months a part.

Mal ended up being on bed rest for about 8 weeks. Constantly, battling her guilt for now being able to run around with Andi and Rae, and knowing that if she didn't lay low, she could lose her son. What an awful, horrible, terrible situation to be in. Being the Googlizer that I am, I was continually researching premature labor and sending Mallorie articles about life as a mother of a premature baby. If I couldn't be there to sit with here, I would do what I could from a far. Every day mattered. Every day that she didn't go into labor was huge WIN. Goal after goal was met; make it to 25 weeks, make it to 26, make it 27, and the biggest one make it to 28 weeks and the percentage of survival went up and complicated birth defects when down. And they did. 28 weeks to the day, Gatlyn Tobias Schrock, entered the world. I wish this is where I could say that all the hardships ended.

He had won a battle, but the war wasn't over, in a sense it was only the beginning. Gatlyn would go on to stay in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) for 186 days. For awhile he wasn't allowed visitors, and in the those 186 days I think I only saw him 3 times and got to hold him once. I was so overcome with emotion the first time I held him that I cried. While in the NICU he contracted Necrotizing Enterocolitis (NEC) and had 5 surgeries. He's been a fighter since day one. Mallorie and Jesse showed such faith, strength and perseverance as they dealt with what was now their normal lives of daily trips to the hospital and again, processing information and making choices that I still can't fathom having to make.

At 6 months old he came home from the hospital with a broviac and a feeding tube. Since then he's had his broviac removed and his feeds have been increased, so that he can now spend time off of his pump. His physical care has become routine. His black backpack is normal, and Stella loves to try to steal it from him. Many months ago Mallorie set a goal that by his first birthday, Gatlyn would be able to reach for toys and be able to hold his head up off the ground while laying on his belly. She doesn't even remember setting that goal, that's how overwhelming her situation was at the time. Well folks, he's doing it! What a great gift for Mallorie and Jesse, to know they're on the right track and are still shattering the goals that have been set for them.

Today, Gatlyn is such a happy little man. He has an infectious smile, that will brighten anyone's day. He's reaching for toys, babbling, growling at his cousins, and gets lot's of love and attention from his big sisters. Yes, there is still a long road ahead, but every mile marker is reason to celebrate. There was a time, when we didn't think we'd ever be celebrating his first birthday, which makes today extra special!

People ask her all the time, how they could manage all of it, how they got through it. She doesn't really have an answer for them. I do. They did it because they had to, because they had no other choice and that's what had to be done. And most importantly because Mallorie has faith that can move mountains. Not once did she ever lose faith that God would bring her family through the storm.