Enough is Enough

I am angry. I am devastated. I am done.

If you have not seen the news yet today, there was another school shooting this morning. I say another, because there was one yesterday as well. And I don’t know about you, but I’m saying enough is enough!

I am very conservative. Most of what I believe aligns with the conservative platform, excluding a couple of issues. Something I have always been a big supporter of is the 2nd amendment, or the right to bear arms. I feel like it’s important to preface this, so you can understand that this isn’t another rant from a hippie wanting to confiscate all the guns or something 😉

I am a big supporter of the right to own guns. Many people I know and love, enjoy hunting or target shooting. They especially love that they can have a way to protect themselves and their families, in the event that something horrible happens. And all the power to them! I’d feel a lot better knowing that if someone broke into my house, my husband could grab a gun to protect us from someone who was likely armed themselves, as opposed to calling 911 and waiting 15 minutes for someone to show up. (PSA I love cops too and am so thankful for them, just saying I’d rather not helplessly sit and wait for help.)

All that being said, something has to change.

I recently watched a documentary on Netflix about families affected by the Sandy Hook shooting in 2012. I remember being a junior in college when that shooting happened, and I cried watching the news coverage. But watching this documentary, five years later, now with two kids of my own, I sobbed. I don’t remember the last time I cried that hard. I couldn’t imagine dropping my boys off at school, and never seeing them again. Such innocence and purity was taken that horrible day. The documentary followed a few families whose sweet children were killed, and talked about their grief and the work they’re doing now in government to try to make a change, so that other parents don’t have to go through this nightmare they are suffering.

I used to be one of those people who said, “We don’t need to do anything about guns! Guns aren’t the problem, evil people are the problem!” And while it’s true that guns aren’t pulling their own triggers, evil people have such easy access to a weapon that can kill so many in such a short amount of time. I know evil people want to hurt other people, and will still use whatever weapon is accessible to them. But why does that mean this conversation isn’t necessary? “Well, it won’t make a difference anyways,” is not a good enough reason not to try something. When we can’t confidently go to school, church, the movie theater, the mall, a concert, or any other public place without wondering if a shooter is going to show up, we have a serious problem that needs to be addressed.

I know evil is at the root of these shootings. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve cried out to God, asking, “Why, Lord?! How is this possible?” But then I stop and remember that this has nothing to do with God, because our culture has eradicated God. This breaks God’s heart, a million trillion times more than it could ever break mine. This is about a lack of morality and kindness, and a surplus of hatred and violence. So many times, these shooters are young people who were bullied and victimized. Not that this is an excuse at all, but it is heartbreaking to think that a person could feel so hopeless and dark, that the only solution that makes sense to them is to inflict pain on others. If you can’t relate to what I’m saying, please read the book Nineteen Minutes by Jodi Picoult. It offers a life-altering perspective on the importance of spreading love.

All that to say, evil isn’t going anywhere. It’s been here since the beginning (thanks a lot, Satan), and it will be around until the end. So despite evil or unstable people being at the root of the problem, isn’t it possible that if we did something, anything, to somehow limit the easy accessibility of guns to these people, that a lot less people would be killed and injured? I know there are so many arguments to this: “Well look at that Las Vegas shooter–he didn’t have any kind of record,” OR “Well he stole it from his parents, and they were law-abiding citizens!”

I don’t have all the answers. I wish I had the perfect solution. I’m just saying, it is PAST time to have this conversation. We need to stop being Liberals and Conservatives–we need to be human beings. What if it was YOUR father, mother, sister, brother, daughter, son, husband, wife, or friend who was shot and killed? It’s not enough to talk about it for a day after yet another shooting pops up on the news. We need to make a change, and we need to make it now.

What are your thoughts on this? I’d love to have a healthy dialogue, and hear some of your ideas!

Crockpot Salsa Chicken

I’m always looking for new crockpot recipes, mostly because it’s so nice to be able to throw something in a pot and just forget about it. Especially as a mom, I so appreciate not having to always stand in the kitchen for extended amounts of time, while my children are destroying everything in the room next to me!

This crockpot salsa chicken recipe is one of the very first things I ever cooked by myself! That’s right, it is THAT easy! College-aged Kaylee totally owned this recipe! In fact, it was the first recipe I shared with my sister when she started cooking for herself as well. You cannot mess this one up, guys! It is soo easy!

Besides being extremely easy, it is also very versatile. We usually put the chicken mixture into corn tacos and add our favorite toppings (red onion, cilantro, avocado, lettuce, and lime)! But I’ve also made burritos, put it on a salad, nachos, or served with rice. You can do so many different things with this chicken!

Here’s how to make your easy crockpot salsa chicken!

Ingredients:

  • 1 (15 oz) can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 (14 oz) can corn, drained
  • 1/2 package taco seasoning (about 1 tablespoon)
  • 1/2 cup salsa
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 1 lb boneless, skinless chicken breasts

Instructions:

  1. Put beans, corn, taco seasoning, and water in crock pot and mix together. Place chicken breasts on top, and spread salsa on chicken. Cook on high for 3-4 hours.
  2. Shred chicken and serve however you want (see examples above).

    *Add your favorite toppings (cheese, onion, sour cream, avocado, lettuce, tomato, etc).

You can also easily make this into a freezer meal to make for later, or to bring to someone who needs a dinner! Here’s how:

  1. Label a gallon-sized resealable freezer bag with the name of the recipe and cooking instructions.
  2. Dump the black beans, corn, salsa, taco seasoning, and water in the bag and mix until all of the ingredients are combined. Finally, add the chicken, and then close the bag. Place in the freezer until ready to use.
  3. When ready to cook, remove the bag from freezer and let it thaw in the fridge overnight. Spray your slow cooker with cooking spray and dump the ingredients from the bag into the slow cooker. Cook on high for 4-5 hours or on low for 6-7 hours.
  4. Shred chicken and serve however you want (in tacos, burritos, nachos, salads, etc).

Three Reasons Why I Won’t Ask How Your Baby is Sleeping

Let’s all be honest for a moment: it is hard being a parent.

Like, probably one of the most difficult things you can do in this life. And I’m not even talking about the terrible twos, potty training, puberty, or the teenage years (when my kids will probably make me question my whole existence). I’m talking about babies, y’all.

Yes, those sweet, squishy, perfect babies.

I love pregnancy and babies. I’d probably have ten more babies if my husband let me. That’s right, I could totally be Duggar family status (google “19 kids and counting” if you don’t know who I’m talking about).

But there is one thing about babies that is harder for me than anything else: they are sleep stealers!

Whoever coined the term, “I slept like a baby,” has clearly NEVER had a baby. Or at least, has never had a normal baby.

Both my boys were sleeping completely through the night by nine months. What I mean by “completely,” is that they stopped waking up for a single nursing session. Tucker is now sleeping from 7-7:30, and trust me when I say I don’t take that for granted! I’m so grateful both my boys have figured out sleep that quickly, because I know of parents who have three year olds who still wake up throughout the night. But on the other side, there are babies who sleep through the night by three months (if that’s you, I’m totally giving you the stink eye…just kidding, kind of)!

But as this whole waking up in the night thing recently ended for me a second time, it reminded me of the guilt and pressure other people put on us (whether it’s intentional or not), and that we in turn put on ourselves as well.

So here are three reasons I won’t be asking you how your baby is sleeping:

  1. I don’t care.
    And I don’t mean that in an insensitive way, but I truly don’t understand why people ask this question in the first place. Are they genuinely interested in your baby’s sleep patterns? Are they writing a thesis on babies and their sleep, and trying to collect more data? Are they going to offer to come over at night and take care of your baby, or watch your baby during the day so you can squeeze in a nap? If the answer to these questions is no, then they shouldn’t be asking, because it’s just going to A.) make you feel like something is wrong with your baby B.) make you resent your baby for being a brand new human, or C.) remind you how tired you are (or all of the above). None of these are productive, helpful things. Instead of asking how your baby is sleeping, I’ll ask you how YOU are doing!
  2. He/She is a BRAND NEW HUMAN!
    I know I said this above, but this baby literally just came into the world. Whether it was a month ago, six months ago, or a year ago, let that sink in: they have only been on this planet for mere months. They are learning every single thing that we have forgotten humans need to learn. They do not know how to sleep. So yes, when the newborn phase is over, everything turns to crap because they have to figure out how this sleep thing works. And then, when things finally start to feel like they might be getting better, they start teething or get sick, and everything is horrible again! No one should be asking you how your baby is sleeping, because you probably don’t even know, because the baby doesn’t even know, because they are a BRAND NEW HUMAN!
  3. You’re stressing out enough for everyone.
    Maybe this doesn’t apply to you, but even my second time around, I stressed myself out enough for EVERYONE. I didn’t need the reminder of so and so’s baby being an “angel sleeper” since birth, or that crunchy Catherine says it is perfectly acceptable for even five year olds to wake up all night. No. Trust me, I was already crying over how to get him to nap longer so he could sleep better at night, how to help him learn to fall asleep by himself, or wondering if I was ruining him by doing X, Y, and Z. You don’t need anyone else’s input, unless you seek it out yourself. Even then, you know your baby better than anyone else on this entire planet. Trust your instincts, and remember that every single baby is different!

So that’s it. I promise to never again ask a mom with a new baby how her baby is sleeping. If you want to ask me advice based ony my own experiences or need a shoulder to cry on because trying to figure out a baby’s sleep pattern is like trying to herd cats, I will be that girl! But I will not be that girl judging you or making you feel bad about your perfectly normal baby. Your baby will figure it out, and you will sleep again, I promise!

And you know those annoying people who say, “Just wait, you’re going to miss those quiet moments in the night with your baby”? Like me, you might become one of those moms, even just a month after getting your full night’s rest back 😉

 

Mama’s Crockpot Chili

 

Happy New Year!!! Can you believe it’s 2018? It’s going to take a while for me to get used to writing that out! Well, it’s been a little bit chilly here in Texas, so I decided it was time to make some chili! See what I did there 😉 #nerdlife.

I’ve been making this chili recipe since 2014, and it’s by far my favorite! While chili is traditionally made with beef, I substitute for ground turkey. I’ve also tried it with venison, and thought it was just as good! And that’s coming from someone who is usually pretty picky about the gamey test of venison! All that being said, use whatever meat you and your family have or like!

I want to add that the diced green chiles give it just enough spice, without it being too much for people who can’t handle a little heat! But if you’re trying to be extra sensitive, you could use less, or leave it out completely.

I hope you love this recipe as much as we do!

Adapted from Gimme Some Oven

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 Tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 pound ground turkey
  • 1 medium yellow onion, diced
  • 4 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 2 (15 oz) cans dark red kidney beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 (15 oz) can light red kidney beans, rinsed and drained
  • 2 (15 oz) cans tomato sauce
  • 2 (14 oz) cans diced tomatoes
  • 1 (7 oz) can chopped green chiles
  • 1 can beef broth
  • 2 Tablespoons chili powder
  • 1 Tablespoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • (Optional toppings: shredded cheese, crushed tortilla chips, green onions, sour cream, etc.)

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Add olive oil to a frying pan, and heat on medium-high. Add the ground turkey, onion, and garlic. Cook until the turkey is browned.
  2. Put the turkey, onion, and garlic from the pan at the bottom of a slow cooker.
  3. Add all of the other ingredients, and stir.
  4. Cover and cook on low for 6-8 hours, or on high for 3-4 hours.
  5. Serve & enjoy!

Chimichurri Flank Steak Salad


Growing up, my family always ate salad–I’m talking about with EVERY. SINGLE. MEAL. You’d think that over the years I would have become burnt out on salad, but I still love it and make it multiple times throughout the week as a side. Now, I’m definitely a meat and potatoes kind of girl, but sometimes, you come across a recipe for a big, hearty salad and discover that a salad can definitely be a main entrée. This chimichurri flank steak salad (adapted from my super talented sister-in-law over at chuckandwelly.com) is one of those salads packed with so much flavor and goodness, you won’t even realize you’re eating a salad! I mean, it’s STEAK. You can’t go wrong there! If you’re looking for an amazing entrée salad, this one is always a hit!

 

Serves 4-6
Ingredients:

For salad:

  • 1 flank steak (about 1-1 .5 lbs)
  • 1/2 a bottle of Chimichurri sauce
  • 3 heads of romaine lettuce, washed and cut
  • 1 bunch of green onions
  • 1/4 cup shredded cheese
  • 10 stalks asparagus, chopped into 2-inch pieces
  • 2 ears corn
  • Salt & pepper to taste
  • Extra Olive Oil for grilling
  • Fritos

For dressing:

  • 1/3 cup Olive Oil
  • 3 Tbsp Red Wine Vinegar
  • Juice of one lime

Instructions:

  1. Marinade flank steak in the chimichurri sauce for at least an hour.
  2. Mix cut asparagus with 1 tbsp olive oil, and salt & pepper. Wrap in tin foil and place on the grill for about 45 minutes or until tender.
  3. Brush corn with olive oil and grill for approximately 10-15 minutes, rotating frequently. Remove the corn from cob.
  4. Grill the steak for about 5 minutes on each side. Let rest on a plate covered in foil.
  5. In a large bowl, combine the lettuce, green onion, cheese, asparagus, and corn.
  6. Whisk together the olive oil, red wine vinegar, and lime juice. Toss with salad.
  7. Add slices of the flank steak and the fritos on top.
  8. Enjoy!