You Deserve A Beautiful Birth


At the end of my prenatal appointment last week, my midwife hugged me and said, “I’m so glad you’re here! You are going to have a beautiful birth!” And I cried happy, thankful tears that this amazing woman and this incredible Birth Center came into my life at just the right moment.

And then I realized, everyone, regardless of the situation, should be encouraged like that about birth.

There are so many different ways and places birth happens. But regardless of what that looks like for each woman, you deserve a beautiful birth.

When I was early on in my first pregnancy, I didn’t even want to think about birth. In fact, I was pretty in denial about the fact that my baby was going to have to come out of me at some point.

You see, I had always made the assumption that whenever I’d have a baby, it might feel like a near-death experience. I attribute this mostly to the way our society and the media scare women about what birth is like. Everything I had ever seen or heard showed women suffering and getting drugs immediately upon arriving to a hospital. So overtime, this became the “norm” for birth in my mind–unmanageable pain, drugs, and a hospital. (There is absolutely nothing wrong with pain medication or a hospital, but there are other ways to give birth, as I’ve recently discovered.)

If you would’ve told me that I’d at some point be giving birth outside of a hospital with midwives, I would’ve laughed at you. Surely me, the ever-anxious, constant worrier could never leave the comforts of a hospital! But I stood up for myself when the norm wasn’t treating me right, and I found my way to a more “normal” experience.

The most empowering things have happened to me this pregnancy–I’ve learned that I always have options, I can stand up for myself, and that I can actually look forward to birth. That’s right, I’m actually excited about this labor and delivery! Perspective changes everything!

So at the end of the day, regardless of where and how you give birth, whether you get all the pain medication possible or none, whether you’re at home or in a hospital, whether you’re having your third C-section or are preparing for your first birth, I hope you have people surrounding you who will tell you what my midwife told me: “You are going to have a beautiful birth!”


 

Cilantro Chicken Enchiladas

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: Mexican food is life. Well, I thought I knew what Mexican food was, and then I lived in Southern California for four years and got to experience the real deal–from local vendors and the amazing cooking of my in-laws (hint: if you love a certain type of food, marry into a family that comes from that culture haha)!

WARNING: If you are looking for an authentic Mexican recipe, this is NOT that haha. This is more of a Tex-Mex recipe, but it is my go-to Mexican dish at home. Even though it’s not authentic, my husband approves and even requests it from time to time–winning!

My mom has been making this dish for 10+ years, and it was one of the first things I learned to cook on my own (embarrassingly, this wasn’t until I was halfway through college…I was late to the whole “adulting” thing haha).

This is the perfect dish for a weeknight family dinner, or for hosting some friends–it never disappoints! 🙂

Ingredients:

  • 1 bunch cilantro
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1 16 oz jar of red salsa (I prefer medium Herdez)
  • 1 16 oz jar of green salsa (Medium Herdez for green too!)
  • 2 skinless chicken breasts, cooked and shredded
  • 1 onion
  • 12  6 inch tortillas
  • 2 cups monterey jack cheese, shredded

 

Directions:
  1. In a large bowl, mix together sour cream, chopped cilantro (all of it minus stems), 14 oz of red salsa, and 1/3 of the green salsa.  Set aside. *If you ever just want to use this for a dip, it’s to die for too!
  2. In a separate large bowl, combine shredded chicken, onion, and the remaining green salsa.  Mix well.
  3. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  4. Heat tortillas in microwave until soft.
  5. Pour enough of the sour cream mixture into a 9 x 13 baking dish to coat the bottom.
  6. Place two heaping tablespoonfuls of the chicken mixture in each tortilla, roll up, and place seam side down in the baking dish. Pour remaining sour cream mixture over all and top with shredded cheese.
  7. Cover dish tightly with aluminum foil and bake for about 30 minutes.
  8. Devour!

Skinny Jalapeno Popper Chicken

I know that sometimes when recipes have the word “skinny” in the title, people can be quick to make assumptions. Most of the time, you just can’t make a super unhealthy dish healthier and still have the same amazing taste. Well, that is not the case with this chicken recipe!

When I first started Weight Watchers, I vowed to find recipes that still made me excited about food. I scoured pinterest and am sooo happy I found this recipe from Slender Kitchen. I made some modifications (like adding a little bit more cream cheese and changing the serving to 2, instead of 4, because my husband and I kept finishing off the recipe in one sitting haha and the amount of points is still totally reasonable for the yummy dinner). This quickly became my favorite recipe, especially served with lots of steamed broccoli (0 points!) and Alexia’s spicy sweet potato fries.

There are so many recipes I can think of that taste WAY better than they look, and this is definitely one of them! I had a really hard time taking a photo that did this recipe justice, and for that, I truly apologize haha. I hope you try it, despite its appearance, and love it as much as I do!

 

Serves: 2
WW Smartpoints: 10
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 40 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb boneless skinless chicken breast
  • Salt & pepper to taste
  • 1/4 cup jalapenos, seeded and diced (or use them already sliced from the jar like I did)
  • 3 oz. reduced fat cream cheese
  • Half a bunch of green onions (about 4 tbsp), chopped
  • 1/2 cup reduced fat shredded cheddar cheese

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.
  2. Put the chicken in a casserole dish and season with salt and pepper.
  3. Cook for 25-30 minutes (or until juices run clear).
  4. Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, mix together the diced jalapenos, cream cheese, green onion, and shredded cheese.
  5. When the chicken is done cooking, remove from the oven and spread the cream cheese mixture over the chicken. Put back in the oven and cook for an additional 8-10 minutes (or until cheese is melted).

Raising Our Boys to Be Men of God

When we had our first son, I realized I had an important duty as a mother. Of course, as parents, our duty is to raise decent human beings. That part isn’t too difficult if you aren’t a psychopath. But as a Christian, I felt the heaviness of a different duty, the most important duty–raising my son to be a man of God in a world that has turned against God. When I found out a few months ago that we were expecting a second son, the weight of this struck me even further.

My husband and I have been given a huge responsibility and privilege. We are raising boys, who will become men, who will become husbands, and who will become fathers. What we do now, from the very beginning, will have a major impact on who they will become. And while this of course applies to all the daughters out there as well, I see a lack of Godly young men in society today and it deeply saddens me.

As parents, we can only do so much. We can teach our children, live by example, and pray that they choose Jesus, but we cannot force Jesus on anyone. If that’s how it happened, God would have made the whole world believe in Him. But then what would be the point? He desires that we would choose Him. And since the world has become increasingly more intolerant of God and since many who claim to be Christians have twisted the Word so that it fits an “anything goes” policy, the younger generations are deciding it’s no longer worth it to commit to Christ.

When I look around in the many different churches I visit, I very rarely see single Christian men. This bothers me greatly, because I see a large number of single Christian women. Why is there such a large discrepancy? Why can’t my single Christian girlfriends seem to find a Christian man? It’s hard enough to meet a good guy today, let alone a good Christian guy! What has happened to all of the Christian young men?! I’ll tell you: they’re not being raised anymore.

Between the modern approval of the “fluidity” of gender, the extreme encouragement of ultra-feminine qualities in men, the lack of strong father-son relationships, and the turning away from God, our society is losing men, and especially losing men of God.

So how will our boys learn to become men of God in this world?

  1. From God
    • The Bible is God’s word–plain and simple. From infancy, it is vital that we instill a love and appreciation for God’s word in our children. By showing our boys what men of God look like through the countless examples found throughout the Bible, we can give our boys amazing role models and examples for what it means to be men of God.
  2. From their father
    • There is not a lot I feel more passionately about than the importance of a father figure in a child’s life. I was fortunate to have both my dad and my step-dad, and this was huge for me. As important as a father figure is in a girl’s life, father figures are especially important for men. Fathers show our boys what a man is, and especially what a man of God is. Children are incredibly observant and love to repeat what we do, which makes it so important for our boys to have Godly men in their lives so they can learn by example how to be leaders and men of faith.
  3. From our lives
    • As I mentioned above, children are like parrots–they love to copy us! Of course this can lead to some “uh-oh” moments if we’ve accidentally said or done something we don’t want them to repeat (we’ve all been there)! But this leads me to my final point–our kids will learn how to act based on how we act. If your kids see you reading your Bible, praying, singing to the Lord, etc., they will know that God is important in your life. If you talk to your kids about Jesus and teach them how to pray, they will want to partake! Never underestimate the power of your actions and how it will impact your kids!

So, here’s my call to action: Start now! It is never too early to sing a song or read a story that teaches your children about God. PRAY! Pray that your life might encourage your children to pursue God wholeheartedly, that they would want to know God because of how evidently He can be seen through your life! At the end of the day, your children will grow up and have to make their own decisions. But what you do today matters more than you know! Let’s raise up our boys to be the men of God that the world so desperately needs!

Chicken La Paloma

I’m a big fan of family traditions, especially when it comes to cooking and baking! I love continuing to cook or bake things for my family that my mom made for us when we were kids. I dream of the day I take the time to write all of our favorites on recipe cards so I can have a cute little recipe box sitting on my kitchen counter. In the meantime, this blog will have to do the trick 😉

Recently when I asked my mom about her favorite meal that her mom cooked when she was growing up, she said Chicken La Paloma. She’s made a few modifications based on her own preferences over the years, but she just made it for us recently and we all fell in love! One of the first things I said after trying it was, “I’m so bummed we didn’t have this growing up!”

If you look up “Chicken La Paloma” online, there are honestly not super great reviews for the traditional recipe. But my mom completely reinvented this old recipe and made it into a new favorite! It’s such a simple casserole packed full with flavor, perfect for any family!

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups cooked chicken, diced
  • 1 can cream of chicken
  • 1/2 cup mayo
  • 1 tsp curry powder (or more–our family likes a lot of curry flavor, so we actually do 2 tsp).
  • 1 cup cheddar cheese, shredded
  • 1 bag frozen veggies (we prefer broccoli, cauliflower, and carrots)*
  • 1 cup panko seasoned bread crumbs
  • 1/2 stick butter, melted

*We actually used fresh veggies in our recipe because we had them on hand, but the recipe works just the same with frozen veggies.

 

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. In a large bowl, mix together cream of chicken, mayo, and curry powder.
  3. Add in chicken and combine. Then stir in 1/2 cup of shredded cheese and the veggies.
  4. Spray a 9×13 pan with nonstick spray, and add in mixed ingredients from the bowl.
  5. Spread bread crumbs over top of casserole. Then drizzle melted butter over everything and add the remaining 1/2 cup cheese.
  6. Cook for 30 minutes, or until bread crumbs look golden.