And then there were three… 


I failed as a mom with keeping monthly updates on Eli. Being a mom of two was just way more work and blogging took a back seat. Like way back. To the back of the bus. And then I completely stopped blogging at all. 
For a while I felt like a terrible mom. I blogged about Alston’s every move and with Eli I could barely keep up a monthly post. What gives?? Well, I was busy. You know, being a mom. I took a million pictures and some hilarious videos. They’re just saved on my computer. And when Instagram came along that became my creative outlet for keeping track and sharing. But now I’m back. And while I wont be writing down the kids’ every single adventure, I’ll be here. I’m planning on back tracking to make photo books for the past 8 years, but those will be for us to keep and pass down later. 

However, it would feel weird not to write an official introduction to our newest little dumpling. Miss Emma Marie has definitely made our lives feel complete. She’s the princess of the house – doted on by her big brothers and her daddy. She’s 8 months old already – only a few short mi the until she turns one! So be on the lookout for a post all about her grand entrance into this world. 

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What’s for dinner? Whole 30 Approved Fish Tacos

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Whole 30 (Tacoless*) Fish Tacos

So this week I started a Whole 30ish Pretty Much Paleo kinda’ thing. I’m following the Whole 30 plan, without being super super strict. Mainly because its really hard to find Whole 3o compliant bacon and deli meat and I refuse to make my own mayonnaise. I’ve nixed dairy, grains, legumes and almost all sugar from my diet. I’m making everything that I eat from scratch, with the exception of some Larabars and an RX Bar I had after my workout this morning. I licked the spoon to the Cookie Butter that I bought the kids at Trader Joe’s and I had a beer last night while cooking dinner. I’m not going to stress and completely deprive myself. (That never works for me unless I’m doing a prayer and fasting thing.) I’ll end up caving and quit all together. So I’m just following the basic structure and bending a little when I need to. I’m really just hoping to change my eating habits and needed a good starting point. Oh, and I’m making Patrick eat whatever I fix for dinner. He’s been a real trooper.

Here is my prized recipe… Fish Tacos. If you haven’t had fish tacos, you may be thinking that this sounds disgusting. But let me assure you that its probably one of the best recipes in my arsenal and it takes the least amount of effort possible. To make my regular recipe Whole 30 Compliant, all I had to do was remove flour tortillas and use compliant mayo. So technically, this is fish tacos minus the tacos. Tacoless. *Yes, that’s a word, regardless of what spellcheck says.

Fish Tacos
serves 3 (or 2 adults and 2 kiddos)

  • 6 tilapia fillets
  • onion powder
  • garlic powder
  • cumin
  • cayenne pepper
  • smoked paprika
  • 1 bag of cole slaw mix (I like the angel hair mix with red and green cabbage and carrots or you can always make your own)
  • mayonnaise (whole 30 or homemade)
  • lime juice
  • fresh cilantro
  • olive oil
  • salt & pepper

Heat olive oil in a non-stick pan (just enough oil to coat the bottom) over medium to medium high heat.

Sprinkle tilapia filets lightly with onion powder, garlic powder, cumin, cayenne pepper and smoked paprika. Both sides. Let sit while you mix up coleslaw.

Add six handfuls of coleslaw mix – or one handful per tilapia filet – to a large mixing bowl. Add about two large spoonfuls of mayo and one tablespoon of lime juice to start. (The amount of mayo depends on how you prefer your coleslaw. I like it just lightly coated, so I start with a little and add more if needed as I stir.) Add chopped cilantro to taste. Sprinkle in some onion powder and garlic powder. Then salt lightly. Taste it. Is it too bland? Add a little more lime juice. You want to be able to taste the lime. Once you’re happy, set your coleslaw aside.

Put your seasoned tilapia filets in the pan and cook until white throughout. Be care flipping them because they may flake apart. I like mine to have some color, so I cook on medium-high heat to get that crispy edge and nice color. Transfer to a dinner plate and top with a heaping spoonful of coleslaw. Serve immediately.

Normally, I would serve two filets per person, but we only had three filets left in the freezer, so Patrick had two and I had broccoli and watermelon. The side of watermelon worked really nicely with the fish and coleslaw. The broccoli was slightly out of place, but you do what you gotta do.

 

 

 

 

The Homestead

But first, a picture story…

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The concrete slab looked really small and I had to keep reminding myself that it was actually 2400 square feet.

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Once the walls were up it started to feel a little bigger…

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Interior walls!

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And the trusses go up… (Lesson learned: never stack windows in the Alabama heat… they warp.)

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It finally looks like a real house!

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Galvanized aluminum roofing

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Hardiplank vertical board & batten siding going up

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Choosing green paint… the top is Benjamin Moore Eucalyptus Leaf and the bottom is Guacamole. We chose Guacamole. 🙂

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Patrick poured and stamped our porch. This is while the concrete is still drying…

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Patrick “antiquing” the porch. You can see where Alston wrote Emma’s name in the concrete…

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An “after” photo of the porch with the first coat of seal.

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Drywall in the master bathroom…

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Master bedroom…

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French doors to the back…

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Paint crew! We chose to have all of the rooms painted the same color (except Emma’s). We chose a nice neutral grey/beige – Sherwin Williams Accessible Beige.

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The front porch goes up!

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Side view of the porch…

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Our first pieces of furniture…

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Living Room

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Master Bedroom (and front door staining room)

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Emma’s room

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Living Room (again)

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Kitchen (in progress)

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Custom vanity in the master bathroom…

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Kids’ bathroom vanity…

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Emma Marie arrived December 2, 2015

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The exterior (almost done!)

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Back and Side view…

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Side view (french doors to the kitchen)…

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We spent Christmas “camping out” in the camper and Neece & Poppas’s… it was 72 degrees and Santa left his gifts outside. A Christmas to be remembered, for sure.

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January 4th – we spent our first night in the house!

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The floors may still be dirty, but at least we have a television. I mopped the floors at least 8 times before they were livable “clean”. I’m still finding spots of dirt in less obvious places.

Building a home is hard. It is frustrating and discouraging and can be downright depressing.

The bank process took forever. First there was the purchase of the land, which was its own weeks long process, and then there was the construction loan. Don’t get me started on construction loans. Of course we had to sell our house to be able to manage any of it, because Patrick and I are regular ol’ people who couldn’t afford a mortgage, a land payment and a construction loan. The banks are real picky about stuff like that. Especially when one spouse is self-employed. I had no ideas of grandeur about this process and i knew it was going to be hard. It was. We didn’t let it discourage us, though. We stuck with it to follow our dreams. And when God tells you to do something, you do it.

For many months before we sold our house, I started to feel very unsettled about where we were in our life. It was almost like I felt stifled by the everyday stuff. I knew our family was supposed to be somewhere with land and not in a neighborhood. I knew that we were supposed to be closer to Patrick’s hometown and our friends with children. I knew that I wasn’t supposed to be struggling to get through the everyday life of being a working mom. (But that’s a story for another day…) So we sold our house (which took about 6 months), packed up all our stuff into two storage units and moved in with my parents. Who then decided they wanted to sell their house, too. So we moved to Patrick’s mom’s. We stayed there for about 8 months. 8 months. No matter how much you love your family or your in-laws, 8 months is a long time for two momma hens in one house. I know people did it back in ye olden days – crammed all their immediate into one tiny house – but its not ye olden days. So in May of 2015, we started house-sitting for another family member. And ended up staying there for another 7 months. 7 months! Bless them. We love them so much for sheltering us as long as they could. They really are like a 5th set of parents to us. And it was actually really fun, until the pregnancy nesting kicked in and I had no home to nest in. Every pregnancy instinct that says, “Get ready! The baby will be here soon!” had to be stifled while I said, “Shut up, instincts! I don’t want to think about the fact that I’m extremely pregnant and have no home. Let’s just pretend its not an issue.”

So what took so long?? We didn’t hire a contractor and did a lot of the work ourselves. (When I say ourselves, I mean that I ordered stuff while Patrick handled all the subcontractors.) We thought that as long as we did as much as we could ourselves that we would save money. We hired people we knew since Patrick has lots of connections in the homebuilding world. And we did save money. But when you save money, you lose time. You have to pick. Get it done faster for more money, or save money and get it done whenever your people can squeeze it in between their real jobs. That was all cool until March, when we found out I was pregnant. Then we had a timeline. We needed to be moved in by Thanksgiving. We were so close. Mere weeks from it. Those last 9 weeks were killer. Inspections. Those inspections killed our Thanksgiving deadline.

When I went in for my 36 week check-up (sometime during the last week of October), the doctor said she expected Emma within the next week. Our house was pretty much finished but weren’t close to being able to move in. Luckily, Emma did not make an early appearance. Nor did she come by her due date. I think she could sense my panic at not having our own home and decided to stay put. But on the morning of December 2, she decided to make her grand entrance. That is also a story for another day.

So we had a baby without having our own home to bring her to. Then we spent another Christmas in a home that wasn’t ours. And let me tell you, I cried. so. much. I think even without the pregnancy and postpartum hormones, I would have shed just as many tears. But people kept telling me how strong and patient I was. The word longsuffering comes to mind and now I understand that Bible verse a little better…

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law. Galatians 5:22-23

I didn’t feel strong or patient, but I know I must have been. God was teaching us a lesson. I’m not even sure what the lesson was, but there was one tucked into all of those months of waiting. And to be perfectly honest, there were times when I couldn’t remember why we were causing ourselves so much trouble. God had given us a vision – he placed those desires in our hearts. I know this because I was perfectly content with my little family in our cute little home in a quiet little neighborhood. Until one day I wasn’t. So I tried to remember that there was a purpose for everything. And finally – FINALLY – on January 4th, they turned our power on. And we had heat and hot water. And that was all I needed. We had already moved some of the larger furniture into the house. We sat a tv on the floor, hooked up a dvd player and called it home.

So we officially began this journey in January of 2014 when we put our house on the market and moved into our new home in January of 2016. 2 years to realize a dream. But we did it!

18 Homeless Months

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We’re coming up on the two year anniversary of selling our city house to prepare to build our country house and I’m feeling especially thankful to have a home to call my own. For 18 very long months, we relied on the hospitality of our families while we went through the very long and frustrating process of building. During those 18 months we had two first days of school, a fourth & sixth birthday, a fifth & seventh birthday, two Christmases, and we were blessed with one brand new baby sister. Thankfully, we moved into our forever home on January 4th and 2016 has been oh so good to us already. I want to recap on everything that I’ve missed, so bear with me as I rewind a little.