ranch life

What’s Up Wednesday {August 2021}

What We’re Eating…

Monday– Cajun chicken salads (Steven had a short day at the hospital on Monday, so he meal prepped some grilled Cajun chicken tenderloins and grilled Cajun salmon on the Traeger and we’re having it through the week for lunch and some for dinner)

Tuesday– Cajun chicken pasta (this was a first attempt, and we actually really liked it! My notes: I used the grilled Cajun seasoned chicken that Steven meal prepped instead of their instructions for chicken, we cut the tomatoes and onions, and I doubled the amount of pasta and cream cheese, and it was perfect! We will definitely have this again, and it was the perfect amount for us to all have it for dinner, and then take for lunches the next day.)

Wednesday– hot dogs (this is my attempt at being a fun mom ;))

Thursday– grilled salmon or blackened catfish (game time decision!), steamed rice, green beans; I’m taking dinner to two families that just had babies this night and making grilled pork tenderloin, mac and cheese, salads, and corn on the cob because that’s become my go-to easy take to people meal, but my fam doesn’t really love pork tenderloin, so we’ll have something else 😉

Friday-Sunday– headed to the ranch!

What I’m Reminiscing About…

How little were these cuties a year ago?? They are growing so fast, it blows my mind to look at pictures of them a year ago, six months ago, three months ago and not be shocked at how much they’ve grown and changed!

What I’m Loving…

  • I have an NLT translation study Bible I bought years ago, and for some reason over the last few weeks, I got the sudden need to tab it out so I can find things more easily. I think it somewhat stems from this being the Bible I mainly use when I’m reading my daily passages for The Bible Recap and I’m to a point where I’m reading some concurrent Old Testament passages each day and need to flip around a lot, so this helps me find where I need to be more quickly. I grabbed this set on Amazon and I am so impressed with the quality and look for the price! And if you are wondering, yes, it took a sweet forever to put them on, but they look so nice, it makes my little organizational heart just beam. 🙂
  • When Livy starts preschool in a few weeks, she’ll have to take her lunch to school for those two days, so we’ve been practicing on Tuesdays when she goes to the nanny (I’m practicing having to make her lunch, and she’s practicing being able to get into her lunch box by herself and eat her food in a reasonable amount of time, etc.). Earlier in the summer, I bought her a Bentgo lunch box after hearing a lot of moms rave about them and seeing a really good deal for a two pack (one adult size and one kids’ size) at Sam’s. Well, we loved the first one so much, and I’m such a sucker for a deal, I ended up getting her a second one from Amazon last week, along with the Bentgo ice packs. I think it makes packing her lunch SO much easier because I can just fill the little compartments and that’s good- I don’t have to guestimate serving size or anything, and it’s leak proof and sealed well all together instead of 75 little plastic baggies in her lunch box. She’s got a turquoise mermaid box, and a pink and green flamingos and pineapples box, so girlfriend is ready to eat lunch at school! Steven and I are also using the adult sized boxes to help us take our lunches too! (you definitely don’t have to wrap anything in plastic wrap like I did; that was so he could easily lift out the strawberries to microwave his pasta, and so his love note wouldn’t get messed up 😉 )
  • Along the same lines, with having a backpack, lunch box, water bottle, nap mat, etc. going to preschool (and an incident under our belt in which I labeled nothing for dance *rookie mom mistake* and we came home from the recital with one size 11 ballet shoe and one size 1 ballet shoe, when we should have had two size 8 ballet shoes), I knew we needed some name labels for all this. I hit up Mabel’s Labels and got Livy the preschool starter pack, which has a variety of sizes of labels with her first and last name, as well as shoe labels- it’s like one object (hers are bows) that is split into two with her name on both sides that you can put in each shoe so they match up. They are waterproof, so they last when they go through the dishwasher, washing machine, etc. and they are really durable (I just about killed myself trying to peel one off to move it a few days ago). I ordered a split name pack for Henry and our niece, and it was a great deal because you get just as many labels, but you have them split between two names for the same price!

What I’ve Been Up To…

It feels like August just flew by! We spent the last weekend of July/ first of August showing some friends around Abilene and the ranch. We stayed the weekend at an Airbnb in the historic village near the ranch and it was really neat! We had a lot of fun driving around the ranch, checking out the sights around town, and finding as much delicious food as possible!

We got some tragic news the next week that a longtime close family friend of Steven’s family was killed in a car accident responding to a call as a volunteer firefighter. He was a pillar of the community there, truly a special man and role model, and is sorely missed. We went to Steven’s parents’ for the weekend to go to his service, and while it was absolutely awful circumstances, it was nice to unplug a little at Bud and Gran’s house and just be around family for the weekend.

On our way home on Sunday, we stopped at a favorite- Allen’s Fried Chicken in Sweetwater, TX. We got our chicken and sides to go and ate at the local park, and my usually somewhat picky little sweet pea went to town chowing on a chicken leg. That girl is growing up country 😉

We spent the next week laying low because both the kids and I were just about knocked in the dirt thanks to sky high ragweed counts, and Steven was working his last week of 24/7 hospital call for fellowship. We were thankfully better by the next week, and ready to celebrate Daddy being DONE with call!! We spent the next week rounding up soccer equipment for Livy to start 4U soccer in a few weeks, wrapping up summer dance, eating at In N Out, eating at our favorite Mexican food restaurant (and trying to win at the claw game that is impossible), eating the MOST delicious steaks we picked up from the Nolan Ryan butcher shop near us called Goodstock, and baking unicorn rainbow funfetti cupcakes. (Can you sense a food theme here? We love our food, haha!)

What I’ve Been Working On…

Gracious, I feel like everything is a work in progress right now. Working on getting our house decluttered to sell in 8-10 ish months (feel like I say that every month!), working on eating healthy and exercising every day, working on making sure our children know how to mind and have manners and are productive members of society one day, working on not letting the news and the current state of the world scare the bejeezus out of me, working on continuing to see the good in humanity, and working on not letting social media convince me there is no good anymore even when it seems like the contrary. I feel like I’m working on basically everything these days, but I’m giving it my best and living on (many, many) a prayer!

What I’m Watching/ Reading…

Well, we’ve obviously been loving the new season of Ted Lasso, and we also randomly started watching Hard Knocks: Dallas Cowboys on HBO Max a few nights ago and have enjoyed it as well. It’s hard to grow up in Texas and not have at least a little loyalty to the Cowboys even if you have absolutely no interest in NFL football whatsoever (that would be me 😉 ).

I read 5 books this month, and think I’ve finally broken my slump and am back to reading as much as I can. I think a lot of what kept me in my slump was trying to stick it out through something I wasn’t interested in. I had started Something in the Water by Catherine Steadman at some point in July and just couldn’t get into it/ through it. It’s fine, but the story just couldn’t hold my attention. As much as I’ve really tried to stick with one book at a time (based on Shay’s advice!), around the first weekend in August, I pushed it to the back burner when some new library holds came up and breezed through those instead. After making it through 3 new books with a few more on hold that I was excited about, I decided to just return Something in the Water and I might go back to it some other time. So, here are the other five books I read this month:

  • Someone We Know by Shari Lapena– So, this seems to be a pretty popular author circulating on Instagram, and since I wasn’t overly impressed by the first book I read by her a few months ago, I decided to give her another chance and see if it was just me not connecting with that particular book. This story was better, but I still don’t know that I’d read any more by her in the future. I think it’s just something about the writing style that I just don’t care for. It seems a little stilted or something, like the conversations between characters don’t seem natural and that makes it harder for me to believe all of it. It was an interesting enough plotline that I made it through the whole book just out of a curiosity to find out what happens, but overall I wasn’t just blown away. I liked it better than The Couple Next Door, but still probably a 5/10 for me.
  • The Last Thing He Told Me by Laura Dave– This one was very heavily recommended on social media, and I’d say I liked it! It had some twists and turns that I wasn’t expecting, and I really enjoyed the connection to Austin (even if it was UT 😉 ), and that it was pretty unique. At one point while I was reading, Steven asked me what I was reading and I tried to explain it, but was doing a decently poor job just because of how intricate the storyline was, so I think that’s a semi-good indication that it’s a good story! 7.5/10 for me!
  • Class Mom by Laurie Gelman– I CANNOT undersell how much I LOVED this book. Absolutely loved this book. Shay recommended it years ago, and for some reason it just popped into my head to find it after I finished The Last Thing He Told Me, and I’m so glad I did. I think I would have found it funny regardless, but the part at the beginning where the main character is dealing with the mom of the peanut allergy kid– I was ROLLING laughing because we were right in the middle of getting all our info and rules, etc. for Livy to start preschool in a few weeks and it was just so, so relevant. There were several other times I laughed out loud, and honestly, in this time where things are so serious in the world, and I wonder a million times a day if we as parents are doing everything we can, should, correctly, etc., this was just such a breath of fresh air and escape. The ending was a little bit of a left turn, but I still absolutely loved it. 9.5/10 for sure!
  • Golden Girl by Elin Hilderbrand– Books by Elin Hilderbrand are like French fries for me- even if they aren’t the best, I know I’m always going to like them, even though they have absolutely little to no nutritional value. I have yet to read one I just straight up haven’t liked, even though there are some I’ve liked better than others, so she’s kind of a safety net. This is her newest novel, and I thought it was good! I know I saw some mixed reviews because essentially the main character is like a ghost or spirit looking down from “the Beyond” (basically like Heaven, just not called that) on her kids and how life is unfolding after her tragic and sudden death, and that aspect turned some people off, but I thought she did it pretty well. Not my favorite, but I still enjoyed it! This story seemed a little more well rounded and fleshed out than others, which I appreciated. I’d give it a 7.5/10.
  • You’ve Been Volunteered by Laurie Gelman– Well, as soon as I finished Class Mom and found out there were two (three in the future) sequels, I jumped in to find them ASAP. They didn’t have the e-books on my library app, but they did have the physical copies of #2 and #3 at our local library, so I put in hold requests for both. I finished the second, You’ve Been Volunteered, in a record amount of time and loved it just as much as the first (maybe more because it didn’t have an eyebrow raiser ending like the first?), and currently have #3, Yoga Pant Nation, in my possession and am already loving it. Another 9.5/10!

What I’m Listening To…

I am really liking the Sharon Says So podcast! She is one of my favorite follows on Instagram, and I feel pretty nerdy just loving all the facts and information she shared, but it’s so fascinating! I mean, anyone who can make the story of how we got the dictionary sound really interesting is a true treasure!

What I’m Wearing…

I can’t tell you the last time I bought something new to wear. Except this t-shirt for my birthday and I 100% love it and would wear it every day if I could. (O&O shirts are my favorite, and are true to size/ I wear a small comfortably!)

What I’m Doing This Weekend…

We are headed to the ranch for the whole weekend to hang out and do some ranch work. Next week is an on call weekend for Steven, and then soccer starts on Saturdays the next weekend, so our time of getting to be out there the entire weekend is closing for a season, so we want to soak up the weekend while we have it! Steven’s parents are going to be out there, so we’ll get to spend the weekend with them, and have a family lunch on Sunday at one of our favorite local restaurants as well.

What I’m Looking Forward To Next Month…

All the fun things start next month! We start preschool, back to dance, and start soccer. Poor Henry is just along for the ride, haha!

What Else is New…

The other morning Livy was taking her sweet ever loving time getting ready, and Henry sat himself in the lawn chair in her room to wait like the tiniest old man irritated to be waiting on a girl. I like to think the second photo would be captioned “Oh, you say she’s ready now? I’ll believe it when I see it!”

And in keeping with that high maintenance theme, baby girl has been on a real princess dress up kick. We’ve been a princess about everywhere we can go, including to bake with Mom and out to eat Mexican food. At one point while we were out at La Margarita, Steven asked me what she was wearing and I just silently shook my head and he understood that this is a fight we just aren’t going to have. {If you have a toddler/ preschool ager that likes dressing up as a princess, she is wearing pieces from this dress up trunk collection. It has Aurora from Sleeping Beauty, Snow White, Cinderella, and Belle from Beauty and the Beast outfits plus accessories. Aunt Shelby got it for her for Christmas last year and it’s been a hit!}

In what was quite possibly one of the sweetest mornings I’ve had as a mom thus far, she set up her small table for a tea party a few weeks ago, and it was just adorable. I put water in her tea pot and she served all her guests tea, and hot dogs, pancakes, cheeseburgers, quite the random and lovingly prepared assortment of food. At one point, I had a seat where that Cabbage Patch Kid is sitting (her name is Lucy), but got bumped for better company. It’s okay, I’m pretty sure my tea had a dog hair in it, so I was about to complain to the hostess anyway 😉 .

And last but not least, this adorable picture of itty bitty Steven, affectionately known in these parts as “Red Boots”, has been framed on his mom’s desk for who knows how long, at least ten years because that’s how long we’ve been together. They got Livy red boots for Christmas that she absolutely adores, so when we were in Midland a few weeks ago, we had to recreate “Red Boots” because photo recreation and side by side comparison are hands down two of my favorite mom hobbies. It turned out pretty cute, but I think mostly because our subjects are cute. 😉

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