My Favorite Healthy Recipes

Having children can make it hard to eat healthy meals regularly. Children tend to be picky eaters and finding healthy recipes that they actually like can be a challenge. Thankfully, I do not have picky kids (they even like tofu!) and it’s easier to find things they’ll eat that aren’t Happy Meals from McDonald’s.

Here are some of my favorite kid-approved recipes for healthy family meals:

Easy Turkey Quinoa Meatloaf

We love meatloaf in this house. I’ve made so many different kinds, including a barbecue chicken meatloaf (Recipe here: The Clean Eating Couple). Their favorite recipe, no matter how many I’ve tried, is this Easy Turkey Quinoa Meatloaf. They love it and so does the husband. It is juicy, full of flavor, and very filling. My kids like it so much that it has become a regular in our meal planning.

Quinoa Stuffed Peppers

I don’t know if I’ve ever met anyone who doesn’t like stuffed peppers. They’re incredibly easy to make and they taste amazing! These peppers are even better. Prepped ahead of time, they can be frozen and pulled out when you’re looking for a meal that won’t result in you spending a lot of time in the kitchen. Simply pull them out of the freezer, put them in the slow cooker, and forget about them for a while! The result is a delicious, easy, and healthy dinner that your family will love!

Chicken Burrito Skillet

My children love Tex-Mex. I mean really love it. Tacos are a fairly frequent request for dinner in our house, but I like to mix it up and not always just make tacos. This Chicken Burrito Skillet is a great alternative. It’s super cheesy (which I love!) and absolutely delicious. I try make a lot of it because my kids always go back for more.

Chicken Bacon Ranch Casserole

This is another one that’s loaded with cheese. We love cheese in this house. If you keep prepared bacon on hand like I do, this casserole is even quicker to make. The best thing about it, though, is that it’s very versatile. As far as veggies go, you can use pretty much anything you have on hand. I’ve made it with broccoli, spinach, zucchini, summer squash, and so many other different things. Because it takes very little time to throw together, I make this one regularly. It pairs really well with fresh steamed green beans or riced cauliflower and fills you up quickly.

What are some of your favorite recipes for healthy family meals?

Things My Kids Do (That I Don’t Understand)

Think back to when you were a kid. All of the silly things you did that made sense to you even if they made no sense at all to anyone else..

What came to mind?

For me, it was eating chocolate syrup straight from the bottle. I enjoyed it.

Flash forward a couple of decades and you’ll find me sitting here, fingers massaging my temples, wondering why my children did whatever crazy thing they just did.

In this episode, we visit what happens at the dinner table when parents decide to have dinner on the couch for an evening.

So, the husband and I decided to sit on the couch to have supper while we watched something on TV and talked about our day. The children sat at the dinner table just a few feet away, talking amongst themselves. Suddenly, an argument began.

Jack was doing something questionable to Ava’s food.

My husband and I listened for a moment prior to involving ourselves. Ava was really mad and, in my opinion, with good reason. Messing with someone else’s food is something you just don’t do. Reach your hand towards my plate and you just might pull back with marks from the tines of my fork. Simply put, keep your hands off of other people’s food.

As I stepped in to stop the argument, I started thinking back to when I was their age. My own mother did not sit with us every single time we ate, but we didn’t mess with each other’s food. We ate our food, talked, giggled, and occasionally flung peas at the ceiling, but we didn’t mess with each other’s food. That’s just something you don’t do.

While I say that, I think of all the times one of them has decided they’re full and shoved all of their food off of their own plate onto someone else’s. They know not to just get up and throw it out, so they came up with an alternative.

Honestly, the things my children do amuse me, occasionally infuriate me, and, more often than not, make me reflect on things I did as a child. Sometimes, it is in an effort to compare and contrast between them and myself as a child. Other times, it’s just a matter of reflection and, in some ways, nostalgia.

We all did silly things as children. Now, we have the pleasure of sitting back and watching our children do those things. We get to laugh and wonder where they came up with the idea to do those things.

Being a parent is weird.

Homeschool and Other Adventures

In March, the children went on what would become the longest Spring Break in the history of Spring Break. Expecting them to return to school at the very end of March, when I should have also returned to work from maternity leave, school was, instead, transitioned to Zoom meetings and Google Classroom assignments. I, of course, left work behind to stay with them because daycare costs would have been astronomical.

When the whole thing began, I thought it would be simple. I expected to have my kids sitting at the table each day, quiet and focused on their work. We planned out a schedule that included lunch and time for science experiments and art. In my own naive mind, it would be simple, easy. Flash forward a few weeks and it became clear that it wasn’t anything like I had imagined.

I admire teachers. I applaud them. They should be paid far more than they are, even if just for having to teach my own children. What should have been focused, quiet moments was more like being in the audience at a wrestling match. My children, as wonderful as they are, became exceedingly bored with each other and suddenly every minor offense became a great injustice worthy of a shouting match and the occasional knock-down, drag-out fight.

We were two months in, approaching the close of the school year, and I was already excited for the following school year when they would return to traditional school.

That day still hasn’t come. Towards the middle of May, my son had a seizure. A full-blown, on-the-floor, tonic-clonic seizure. I was cutting his hair when it happened. Never in my life have I ever been so terrified. I thought it was my fault. But then, two days later, he had another one while he was sitting down in the living room. Obviously, this one had nothing to do with me.

Two months and two appointments later, he was diagnosed with Epilepsy and given a host of other appointments and new medications. In addition, his pediatrician and neurologist recommended he participate in distance learning instead of returning to traditional school. Because of the circumstances, I have continued to stay home and decided to do virtual learning with my daughters as well.

Our days are much the same as they were back in April. We have a schedule, but they spend much of the day arguing over simple things. One of them sat where someone else wanted to sit. One of them unplugged the other’s Chromebook overnight, so it isn’t fully charged. The list goes on.

Homeschool isn’t at all what I imagined when I heard others talk about it in the past. It is being a teacher, a principal, a hall monitor, a mediator. It is being all of those things in addition to everything that we already are as parents. And, some days more than others, it’s rough. I commend teachers everywhere for the work they put in shaping our children into productive members of society.

Other Adventures

In adjusting to being a stay-at-home mom, I’ve looked for things to fill my free time while kids are studying and the baby is asleep.

With the rising cost of food, I decided to take up gardening. It is much too late in the season to grow anything substantial, but I do have some things successfully growing.

In the kitchen, I have celery, which I started from the ends of some celery that I used for dinner. Outside, I have an herb garden. I started it around mid-August, but it is doing really well. It is filled with things like Sage, Thyme, Oregano, Lemon Balm, Basil, Dill, Chives, and Chamomile.

When I started, I didn’t expect to have so much fun. The result was me falling in love with plants. Since then, I have started a delightful collection of everything from herbs to houseplants. I purchased several plants this week, some of which will arrive tomorrow. Philodendrons of assorted varieties, umbrella trees, Monsteras, Wandering Jews, mums, and spider plants; there are so many coming within the next week.

Homeschool isn’t all bad. I have more time with my children and I have found a deep love for gardening.

34 Looks Good!

Today is my 34th birthday. And I feel better than ever.

It’s cold today. Unseasonably so for early September. The temperature outside will barely rise to 50 degrees and it is expected to rain most of the day. An early Autumn is amazing birthday present. I really do not have much to complain about.

The house is warm. We actually had to turn on the heat as overnight temperatures reached the low 40s. I’m wearing comfy pajamas and cozy socks as I sit here sipping hot tea. I’ve come to love hot tea and quiet wee morning hours when everything is silent and still. As a stay-at-home mom teaching home-schooled children, the silence is appreciate. It’s peaceful.

Yes, 34 looks not just good, but amazing.

We moved into a new house over the summer. It’s beautiful. The windows are enormous, allowing for lots of natural light. The backyard is considerably sized as well, giving my children lots of space to grow. It is a massive step upward from where we were before. With all of the light that comes in, I decided I needed plants. I accumulate more by the week, telling my husband that I just “need” them. I do. They bring me happiness.

We put in a flower bed to wrap around the back porch where there was nothing but grass. The neighbors gave me a few discarded tires as they were moving out, along with an old wheelbarrow, and I turned those into planters as well. I’m not finished with them yet, but I’m getting there.

Turning 34 feels fantastic. I have a clear vision of where I want my life to go at this point; of what I intend to spend the next few years doing. I’m happier than I’ve ever been. And that’s really saying something.



With that being said, here are 34 lessons and aspirations for my 34th birthday that I want to share with you:

34 Things I’ve Learned and Aspire to Do (Before my next birthday):

Lessons:
1. You absolutely have to be comfortable being alone.
2. Kindness is a wonderful legacy to leave behind.
3. Fear kills more dreams than failure ever will.
4. Authenticity over anything else. People will love you for it and, if they don’t, they’re the wrong people.
5. No matter how many times you fall, get back up.
6. Forgive for yourself. Inner peace matters more than pride.
7. Speak up when people hurt you.
8. Do what you love.
9. What other people think of you is their business, not yours.
10. You’ll never know everything and there’s nothing wrong with that.
11. Real love will leave you feeling freer and more satisfied than you ever have.
12. Uplift your partner. Their success and happiness is just as important as your own.
13. Being happy is a choice.
14. Growth sometimes means leaving things and people behind, no matter how much you thought they’d always be there.
15. Keep your circle small. Friends are awesome, but they’re rarely authentic.
16. Self-confidence is powerful beyond words.
17. Hold onto the people who stand by you no matter how hard life gets.
18. Keep going, even if your progress is slow. Quitting won’t speed things up.
19. Action is the best possible way to destroy procrastination.
20. Sticks and stones hurt, but words can too.

Aspirations:
21. Become a CNA.
22. Start school to become an LPN.
23. Write every chance I get.
24. Become the healthiest I’ve ever been.
25. Read at least one book per month.
26. Put at least $1,000 into an emergency fund and leave it alone.
27. Become my most confident self.
28. Be the best mom I can possibly be.
29. Be a strong partner in my marriage.
30. Love those around me as hard as I can.
31. Reach my highest spiritual self.
32. Let go of any negativity or self-doubt that is holding me back.
33. Improve my credit score by at least 75 points.
34. Accept life’s lessons and experiences and grow from them.

Have a wonderful day, love. I’m going to go celebrate my 34th with my precious family.

Backslide

Over the weekend, Cadence turned eight years old. Family came over to celebrate and we had so much fun. I cannot believe she’s eight years old!

I spent most of the weekend so stressed out. Birthday shopping, juggling four children who each have completely different needs, laundry, keeping the house cleaned, getting things in order for a birthday party, and baking a cake. All of it combined with sleep deprivation just completely overwhelmed me.

Stress is a bitch. It can, however, be a manageable bitch. I just wish I had thought about it that way before I let myself get so completely out of control this weekend.

I am so disappointed in myself, y’all.

I haven’t gotten a workout in since Thursday morning. On top of that, I’ve eaten like crap and I haven’t logged a darn thing in my food journal. Not one single thing. It started on Thursday afternoon. The backslide. I promised Cadence I’d put together her Valentine box for her Valentine’s Day party. Her box took a lot of work, but she was so surprised. It was a unicorn! I was, however, exhausted by the end of the night and decided I would workout on Friday morning instead. That workout never happened.

On Friday morning, while she was at school, her dad texted to let me know he’d be picking her up after school to spend her birthday weekend with her. I knew I had to make sure a weekender was ready for her before she got off the bus, so I went to her room to gather clothes. As I started looking, I noticed that a majority of her clothes were completely missing. The laundry room was devoid of anything waiting to be washed. She hadn’t left anything in the bathroom floor. And Ava, her older sister with whom she shares a bedroom, keeps the room clean, so there was also nothing in the bedroom floor. Where on Earth were all of their clothes?

I started snooping and oh, how I wish I hadn’t. How I wish I hadn’t looked in the closet or under the bed! Y’all, there was so much under the bed and in the closet that it completely took up the middle of their room. And here I thought Ava was keeping things clean. After all, she had been telling me for weeks that they were good on laundry and didn’t need anything washed.

Just looking at that pile of laundry made me want to pack my things and go to a hotel for a few days.

That pile of laundry is where my clean eating and routine workouts went to die. I swear it! So, here we are, going into an already busy weekend and now there’s suddenly a pile of laundry the size of Mount Everest staring me right in the face. Sure, Cadence would be leaving most of the weekend, but that doesn’t mean her needs went with her. After all, most of her clothes were in a pile on the bedroom floor and there was a birthday party to prepare for.

On Friday evening, the husband took me out for Valentine’s Day. We had sushi and I ordered a soda because bottled water wasn’t an option and our city water is disgusting. By the end of our meal, I was proud of myself. I didn’t drink even a third of that soda. I took small sips to wash down my meal, but otherwise didn’t drink it. Then we got home and, again, I was tired and decided to put my workout off until the next morning.

That workout never happened either. Washing, drying, folding, tidying up the house. It was a cycle that repeated itself the entire weekend. I ate whatever was easiest to get my hands on. Doritos, Little Debbie snacks, Valentine’s Day candy. And I didn’t workout even once. The only thing I was successful at was drinking water instead of soda. My husband loves Coca-Cola and keeps it in the house at all times. I craved it a few times, but I managed to talk myself out of that craving. I’ve finally gotten past the caffeine headaches and I do NOT want to go back to that, so I inhaled water every time I craved one.

Here I sit, however, and, as of the writing of this post, I still haven’t worked out and I spent the day eating like crap. I also still haven’t written down a single thing that I’ve eaten. Looking back on all of it, I probably don’t want to write it down. I treated my body like a waste bin this weekend. And I am not proud of it. This post is here as the turn-it-around notification to myself. I can do so much better. My body deserves so much better. And I will not reach my goals by allowing stress to trigger a backslide. There are much better methods of navigating stress. A thirty-minute workout, going for a walk, getting in some Yoga.

Backsliding is like falling down. It’s only a failure if you refuse to get try again.

Weekly Motivation #3

Finally! I am over the six-weeks postpartum hump! Honestly, I have been waiting for this day since the day that I was admitted to the hospital to have my little girl. I am thrilled to have her, but I am also thrilled to have my body back to myself. Being beyond six-weeks postpartum, I am officially cleared to start getting myself back in shape. Since there are no more babies in my future, that also means it is the best possible time in my life to start working on improving my health and fitness.

This week’s motivation is dedicated to the beginning of a new journey:

Getting into the best shape of my life!

“Love your body.”
“Let exercise be your stress relief; not food.”
“You will never always be motivated, so you must learn to be disciplined.”
“Don’t eat less, just eat right.”
“Don’t use the weekend as an excuse to give up on your goals.”
“Only you can decide what breaks you.”
“Girl, you got this!”
“Don’t kill my vibe.”

Sunday Funday: Recap

It was a lazy Sunday. I didn’t plan it that way. It just kind of happened that way.

On Saturday night, I decided to escape the insanity that is my home most days (kids are so much fun!) and went to do a bit of shopping. While I was out, I bought myself an adorable little fitness and food journal.

Being six weeks postpartum, I can finally start working on getting myself into shape. Oh, how I have been waiting for this! I’m hoping the journal will keep me a bit more conscious about what I put into my body. With heart disease and Type 2 Diabetes being very prevalent throughout both sides of my family, I think it is so important to take care of myself.

Probably more important than taking care of myself, I want to teach my kids healthy habits. I want them to understand the importance of really taking care of themselves. And, along with that, I feel like it’s time to start showing myself some love and stop putting me last.

That mantra is probably one of the most important things that my mom has ever said to me. I haven’t really taken it to heart in the past, but I am now. So, Sunday was mostly about setting myself up for an active week, healthy week.

My kids left for church with my neighbors, as they do every Sunday, and I actually made myself breakfast. Oh my goodness, you guys! I made bread in my microwave to go with my eggs! It took a whole ninety seconds and it was so good. Even my husband liked it.

Recipe courtesy of Eating on a Dime: https://www.eatingonadime.com/the-best-90-second-bread-recipe/

Presley woke up right as I wrapped up breakfast and she was hungry. She snorts when she’s hungry. I think that’s how I tell the difference in her cries. Her hungry cry comes with snorting. Once she was fed and happy, I put her in the wrap and we had a dance party. She fell soundly asleep as we danced to Taylor Swift.

The rest of the day was super lazy. I tried to take a nap, but that didn’t work out quite as well as I planned. Tristin’s mom and sister came for a visit when he got off of work. We talked for a while as they took turns holding little Presley. Once they left, I made my husband and I each a salad for lunch. I love a good salad. I could have absolutely used more veggies in mine, but it was still yummy.

I had every intention of putting together my new desk today and getting rid of my old one, but that didn’t happen. I think I’m patiently waiting for my husband to have a day off so he can do it for me. No part of me wants to put a desk together, honestly. We spent most of the afternoon relaxing and watching ‘Raising Hope’. He made dinner for all of us and then it was time to get kids to bed because they have school this morning.

I went to bed early thinking I would get some sleep before Presley woke me up. She routinely wakes up at 2am, so I just knew I’d get plenty of sleep if I laid down between 8 and 9. Joke’s on me because she woke up quite promptly at 11 and I have been up ever since.

I definitely need a bit more sleep before the kids get up, so I’ll end it here. Because I am starting a journey to a healthier me, I will leave you with a picture of myself shortly before I had Presley to remember where I started.

Have a happy Monday and great week, guys!

Problem Child

Parenting is tough. Each child is so different and, as such, has completely different emotional needs. When it comes to being a parent, it goes so far beyond just providing shelter, food, and clothing. It requires a genuine understanding of your child’s emotions, thoughts, and overall psychological needs. For the longest time, I thought I had it figured out. After all, my older daughters are flourishing in their own rights. They both perform well in school and exhibit generally wonderful behavior.

My son is a completely different story.

Over the last couple of years, he has rebelled so much. His grades at school have suffered as a result of that. While he and I both know that he is completely capable of doing the work, as demonstrated on several occasions, he simply refuses to do it. For a while, I focused on what he was doing wrong.

Perhaps, though, it is something that I am doing wrong.

As a parent, it is easy to focus on a child’s bad behavior and never look at yourself. While I am no psychologist, I do know that children often exhibit behaviors as a way to project their feelings about the world in which they live. With that knowledge, I’ve started to wonder: Is there something that he is not receiving enough of from me, is there something that I am doing wrong to cause this? Or, is there something from our disastrous past that he hasn’t been able to deal with emotionally that has him locked in a perpetual state of misbehavior and bad choices?

Jack is a remarkably good kid. At least, somewhere in there, that remarkably good kid exists. He is as polite at the day is long when interacting with most people. From holding the door for strangers to using good manners when speaking, you’d be never know that he struggles everyday both at school and at home. Ever the entertainer that he is, he spends his time in class goofing off and inciting his classmates rather than doing his work. He gets bored easily in class, he gets frustrate easily both at home and at school, and he acts out more often than not. This didn’t use to be the case.

In the past, he rarely ever displayed bad behavior.

Things changed, however, shortly after my now ex-husband came home from deployment. We hadn’t honestly lived together until he came home. We got married and he headed down range just a few days later. Our entire first nine months of marriage were spent in different countries. During deployment, he got angry with me quite often. He’d yell at me on Skype and then I wouldn’t hear from him for days at a time. Usually not until he deemed me worthy of his acknowledgement again.

This happened often. Several times a month in fact.

Silly me, I thought it would end when he came home. Maybe it was just the long distance that made him so angry. After all, during our relationship prior to marriage, we fought a lot too. I lived in North Carolina and he lived in Texas. I chalked the fights up to distance just putting a strain on the relationship.

He came home, though, and nothing changed. We fought more often than we got along. Of course, he involved his family in all of our fights, so they were awful to me as a means of taking his side in everything. Usually because they only heard his side of things. Over the next five years, the fighting only got worse. I should have left. What my kids went through is entirely my fault, because I didn’t leave. Of course, I wasn’t aware of their suffering until well after the fact, but I still blame myself for not leaving.

Sometime during our second year of living in Oklahoma, he lost his job. Despite my best efforts at encouraging him to just take a job anywhere that was available until he could find something more suitable to his preferences, he wouldn’t try. He was too good to flip burgers even if it meant providing for the family that he chose. I worked and he stayed home with the kids. He still yelled all the time. It got to a point where I would take the long way home just to make the five minute drive take a bit longer, because I dreaded going home.

At some point, the yelling turned to physical violence. He flipped a recliner into me, leaving a large bruise on my thigh. He pressed his knee into my chest to hold me in place on the couch while his fist was at my face. It had gone from psychological abuse to actual abuse. I was afraid to talk about my feelings on anything. I was afraid to spend money without asking first. Afraid to go out with friends or talk to anyone about what I was going through. Somewhere between being depressed and being afraid, I forgot to ask myself: If he’s doing all of this to me, is he doing the same to my kids?

I wish I had just left sooner. I should have LEFT SOONER.

After he finally moved out for the last time, my kids became comfortable enough to start talking to me about their experiences. The things I found out weren’t pretty. During my shifts at work, when they were left in his care, he’d restrict them to their rooms the entire day. If they asked for food, he’d yell at them. When he finally got tired of them asking, he’d give them cold leftovers or a peanut butter sandwich and then send them back to their rooms. There were instances of being dragged by their hair, smacked, kicked, and knocked to the ground. I had no idea that they were suffering so much while I wasn’t home. I was so consumed with fear, dread, and depression, that I couldn’t see what was happening.

Jack’s behavior changed during that time. He became seemingly angry. He lashed out easier, cried easier, stopped making an effort in school. His behavioral changes are more my fault than his. As a mom, I failed him. I absolutely failed him.

We went through so much and we have come so far, but he still struggles every single day because I failed him.

The only thing I haven’t figured out is how to fix it. How do I help him heal from five years worth of living with a volatile, abusive human being and get him back to the boy that he was before all of that happened? What do I do?

I’m still trying to figure that out but knowing where things went wrong is a start. My boy is loved unconditionally beyond measure and I am proud that he is my son. I wouldn’t have it any other way. I just do not know what to do to turn things around.

Thanks for reading.

-Quinn

Weekly Motivation #2

I will preface this week’s motivation by saying that I am flat out exhausted. It was one of those nights. Presley was grumpy and wanted nothing to do with sleep. She is such perfection. I am not complaining a bit that she needed me most of the night. The long nights are worth it. Having been awake since early yesterday morning makes for one very exhausted momma. On top of her being a typical newborn, my older children had need of me throughout the night as well, though their reasons differ a great deal from hers.

With that, I bring you “Weekly Motivation #2”. As sleep deprived as I am, motivation is absolutely necessary if I am going to keep functioning. Coffee is amazing, but it does not always work miracles.

“No one looks back at their life and remembers the nights they had plenty of sleep.”
“I’d rather be completely exhausted from the hard times which breed success than well rested from achieving nothing.”
“When you face difficult times, know that challenges are not sent to destroy you. They’re sent to promote, increase, and strengthen you.”
“My life is far from perfect, but I’m happy with what I have and working hard to get where I want to be.”
“Your life isn’t yours if you always care what someone else thinks.”
“I am resilient and can get through anything.”
“Somewhere, there is a past you overflowing with so much pride looking at how far you’ve come.”
“You owe yourself the love that you so freely give to other people.”

Good Boys

A couple of nights ago, after all of the kids were asleep, the husband and I watched “Good Boys” for the first time. I rented it from YouTube because we’ve been wanting to watch it but just hadn’t yet.

Does Seth Rogan ever get it entirely wrong with his movies? They’re almost always hilarious, even if they cannot be watched with my kids in the room. “Good Boys” is seriously funny, but I couldn’t turn off the mom-brain throughout the movie. That’s not a bad thing. It just left me with a few questions and thoughts.

1. Do my kids behave that way when there aren’t any adults present to witness it? Goodness, I hope not!

2. Do my kids think they’re as bad ass as these kids think they are?

3. Why are there no teachers supervising in that cafeteria? Seriously, my kids’ middle school cafeteria is full of teachers. Even the Vice Principal supervises their lunch periods.

4. Things like this are why I don’t own a swing.

Honestly, though, it was such a funny movie. The husband and I laughed pretty hard and not just because it was 3:00 in the morning and we hadn’t had any sleep.

I definitely recommend it if you haven’t watched it.

Does this look like a sippy cup? No. It’s a f*cking juice box! Because I’m not a f*cking child!

Thor, Good Boys