free to dance before your throne.

A girl I know said something a couple weeks ago that I’ve been thinking about every single day lately:

“The leaves are dying but the views from afar are full of beauty! Is this how we are supposed to look at death? Is this how God sees us when our time comes?”


Wow.  Such a wonderful thought.

I was driving to church yesterday, and I took the pretty way that goes through the woods.  The view is spectacular.  The foliage is all around you with little streams of sunlight cutting through and shining down in rays.  It feels like a dream.  And ever since I read those words on Facebook about 2 weeks ago, I think of my Gram on those drives.  Or anytime I see the beautiful fall colors in the changing leaves of the trees.  Then, when I was at church – I could not hold back tears.  When Gram died, I remember thinking how there was such beauty in the process.  But the beauty I was seeing was in the gathering of family.  In the savoring of the final moments with our beloved matriarch here on earth.  But I didn’t think that the dying person them self could be viewed as beautiful until I read those words.  But then I think of how beautiful a big pregnant woman is just before she gives birth to a sweet infant.  That’s the beginning of life here on earth as opposed to death being the end of an earthly life – but it’s so similar to death in that it’s a transition.  A transition into a new life in a new body in heaven.  We sang a song called One and Only and during this verse, the tears came:

Jesus, One and Only
Great and Holy
We are yours
How our hearts race
At your glory
Lord Almighty
We are yours
And yours alone

We will watch the bridegroom come
And Heaven breaking like the dawn
All dressed in white our shame is gone
We’re free to dance before your throne

I just think of Gram dancing before His throne and I cry.  I cry tears of sadness and grief because I wish I had more time with her here.  But I also cry tears of happiness that she is with Jesus and I know that one day I will be dancing with her.

Grief is hard.  Most of the time I’m fine.  I forget she’s gone.  Or, I just don’t have any emotions when I think her being gone.  But there are just some moments that I feel overwhelmed with it.  I’ll see a picture of her and I let out a gasp when I feel the weight of the realization that she died and her body is buried in the ground.  And my heart just aches.  I had no idea I would grieve this hard.

I know I will see her again.  I have no doubts about that.  And until then, I plan to enjoy my time here on earth with those I love and to soak in all the beauty that this earthly life has to offer.

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{recipe} homey chicken stew.

Since I had a request to share the recipe for the chicken stew I posted about yesterday, I figured I would share it here so I can reference it whenever I want to.  This took me about a half an hour or so to assemble in the crockpot Sunday morning, but then I could go about my day and not even worry about dinner until just before we sat down to eat.

Homey Chicken Stew

From Slow Cooker Revolution

3 lb boneless, skinless chicken thighs
salt and pepper
1/4 cup vegetable oil
2 onions, minced
6 garlic cloves, minced
1 T tomato paste
2 tsp fresh thyme or 1/2 tsp dried
1/3 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup white wine
4 cup chicken broth
3 medium red potatoes, scrubbed and cut into 1/2 inch pieces
4 carrots, peeled and sliced 1/4 inch thick
2 bay leaves
1 cup frozen peas
1/4 cup minced fresh parsley

Season chicken with salt and pepper. Heat one tablespoon of oil in a 12 inch skillet over medium high heat and brown the chicken lightly on both sides (5-8 minutes) and transfer to bowl – repeat with remaining chicken. Heat another tablespoon of oil in skillet and add onions garlic, tomato paste, and thyme and cook until onions are softened and lightly browned – 8-10 minutes. Stir in the flour and cook for one minute. Slowly whisk in the wine, scraping up any browned bits. Whisk in one cup of broth, smoothing out any lumps; transfer to slow cooker. Microwave the potatoes and carrots with remaining one tablespoon of oil in a covered bowl for 5 minutes and transfer to the slow cooker. Stir remaining 3 cups broth and bay leaves into the slow cooker. Nestle browned chicken with any accumulated juice into the slow cooker. Cover and cook until chicken is tender, 4-6 hours on low. Transfer the chicken to a cutting bowl, cool sightly, then shred into bite sized pieces. Discard the bay leaves. Stir the shredded chicken and peas into the stew and let sit for 5 minutes. Stir in parsley and season to taste with salt and pepper.


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recommitting to the fix, days 4-7.

Welp.  The weekend got me.  It started with date night.  At a restaurant that is known for good sushi.  There was also wine.  And dessert.  Then more wine when we got home.  I planned ahead for our dinner out – I saved up all my yellows for dinner.  But, since we go out so infrequently – in the moment I decided not to restrict myself.  I have no regrets.

The following day, I had lunch out – but I stayed on track.  I selected a vegetable soup and had a salad.  That night we had pizza.  I was going to stick to two slices which is 2 yellows and a blue, but there was only one slice leftover so rather than wrap it up – I ate it.  There may have been a small portion of ice cream as well.  

That was Saturday.

On Sunday, I woke up ready to be fully back on track.

So let’s recap in a video and some pictures:

Thursday looked like this:

Meal #1 Chocolate Shakeology with unsweetened almond milk, 1/2 frozen banana, and a Tbsp of peanut butter: 1 red, 1 purple, 1/2 yellow, 3 tsp


Meal #2 Plain yogurt and strawberries: 1 red, 1 purple



(side note – if you put anything into a mason jar, it automatically becomes fancy)

Meal #3 Salad with fresh kale, leftover cabbage and mango slaw and leftover shrimp from the previous night’s dinner: 2 green, 1 red.



Meal #4 2 medium boiled eggs, carrot sticks: 1 red, 1 green


Meal #5 2 slices of homemade mushroom pizza: 2 yellow, 1 blue, 1 green (the containers pictured here are for my two slices only.  The rest of the pizza was plain cheese for the family.)



Friday was the day I was really off:

Meal #1 Chocolate Shakeology with unsweetened almond milk, 1/2 frozen banana, 1 Tbsp peanut butter: 1 red, 1 purple, 1/2 yellow, 3 tsp


Meal #2 Yogurt and Strawberries: 1 red, 1 purple



Meal #3 Kale, 2 medium boiled eggs, homemade vinaigrette: 2 green, 1 red, 1 orange



Meal #4 Carrots: 1 green

Meal #5 Date night: dumplings, spring roll, sushi, cheesecake, wine.  More wine at home.  WAY over on yellows.


Saturday I was mostly back on track but went over on yellows a little:

Meal #1 Chocolate Shakeology with unsweetened almond milk, 1/2 frozen banana, 1 Tbsp peanut butter: 1 red, 1 purple, 1/2 yellow, 3 tsp


Meal #2 Yogurt and Strawberries: 1 red, 1 purple



Meal #3 At Panera – Autumn Squash soup and Asian Chicken Salad.  I removed the crunchy things from the salad, and I brought the apple home: I’d say this is 3-4 greens, 1 orange, 1-2 reds


Meal #4 Pizza – 2 slices pictures, but I had another one later and a small dish of ice cream so that’s 3.5 yellows which puts me over on yellows for the day


And finally, Sunday – the day I redeemed myself:

Meal #1 Chocolate Shakeology with unsweetened almond milk, 1/2 frozen banana, 1 Tbsp peanut butter: 1 red, 1 purple, 1/2 yellow, 3 tsp


Meal #2 Yogurt, strawberries and granola: 1 red, 1 purple, 1 yellow, 1 blue



Meal #3 Kale, 2 medium boiled eggs, homemade vinaigrette: 2 green, 1 red, 1 orange



Meal #4 Homey Chicken Stew: 1 red, 1 green 1 yellow (I wouldn’t normally measure my soup into containers before putting in the bowl because that’s really a waste of time, but I wanted to just check it once to see what it would look like if it was measured out properly – and it turns out it’s a larger portion of stew than I would normally dish out for myself)



Week 2 begins today and I am committed to being on track, however I know I will most likely go over on yellows on Saturday because, well – Halloween.  I hoard all the peanut containing candy since one of my sons has an allergy and the rest of them just don’t like peanuts.  Gotta take one for the team, right?

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recommittal to 21 day fix: days two and three.

So, I’m currently on day 4 of my recommittal to the 21 day fix meal plan and I am feeling great!  Everything I want to say is in this video:

And here are all of my lovely food pics from Tuesday and Wednesday.  Like I said in the video, I stuck to the same breakfast, lunch and snacks for each day of the week so far and just changed dinner up.  I just looked at the calorie chart again to see how many containers I get and I’ve been giving myself an extra green every day.  Greens are vegetables though, so I’m going to continue to have the extra veggie because otherwise I’m pretty sure I will be too hungry – and I’ve never heard of too many vegetables hurting a healthy person!


Meal #1 Greenberry Shakeology with water, ice, and 1/2 frozen banana: 1 red, 1 purple


Meal #2 Yogurt, granola, strawberries: 1 red, 1 yellow, 1 purple, 1 blue



Meal #3 Meatball, sausage, spaghetti squash: 1 red, 2 greens



Meal #4 Carrots: 1 green


Meal #5 Chicken  Pot Pie: roughly 1 red, 1 green, 1 yellow



Meals 1-4 were the same as Tuesday

Meal #5 Shrimp Tacos with a Mango Cabbage Slaw and Cucumber Radish Salad: 1 red, 1 yellow, 1 Green



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recommitting to the fix.

I haven’t posted anything about my health and fitness journey because, well, time management issues.  And this blog not getting priority.  I’ve done several different workout programs in the past year including 21 day fix extreme, Insanity Max 30, PiYo, T25, Cize, and now I’m doing P90X3.  However, in the past few months – probably since about August, I’ve been feeling pudgier in the midsection.  I completed Cize and that definitely helped tone my core, but since then I haven’t done much core work.  Plus, I haven’t really been following a meal plan.  Overall I eat well, but a little extra here and there, a bit of leftover pancakes, a scoop of ice cream while I’m dishing some out for the kids, an extra slice of pizza, some wine, etc. – they add up!

Last year when I followed the 21 day fix meal plan strictly for 3 weeks (as it’s intended), I felt GREAT!  I felt satisfied, my clothes fit great, I was starting to see abs.  It was awesome!!

So, I’m not really sure why I stopped following the meal plan.  Laziness, I guess.  Wanted to stuff my face with an extra slice of pizza…or two.  Wanting to down a pint of Ben and Jerry’s Half Baked.  Wanting a ginormous glass of wine.  Which just makes me sleepy and then I feel foggy the next morning.  

Then – I was weighed at the doctor’s office.  And my weight was up!  The rational part of my head tells me “Don’t fret, you’ve just gained some muscle, and that’s a good thing!”  The irrational, crazy lady part of my head tells me “That number means you feel disgusting and depressed and moody!”  Because the number I saw has only been seen when either I am either hypothyroid and in need of a medication adjustment and one of the side effects of that is depression, or I am in my 1st trimester of pregnancy and feeling exhausted, hormonal and nauseas.  This is why I don’t weigh myself.  I know I am healthier now than ever before and I don’t need the number on a scale to mess with my head!  However, it has motivated me to do a bit of a reset with my diet by going back to the 21 day fix meal plan.

What the 21 day fix meal plan consists of is a booklet that provides you with a calculation to figure out how many calories you need for weight loss as well as for maintenance – so you can choose based on which mode you are in.  Then, there are calorie ranges so you can figure out how many of each color coded container you get.  Each colored container represents a food group. Green is veggies, purple is fruits, red is proteins, yellow is starches, blue is healthy fats, orange is salad dressing and seeds, and teaspoons are for nut butters or additional oil used in cooking.  There are also additional teaspoons for natural sweeteners like maple syrup and honey.  The booklet that comes with the 21 day fix provides lists of the foods allowed for each container.  It is such a good way to eat!  No counting calories or points – you just have to do a little bit of planning ahead to make sure you get in all your containers.

I started yesterday.  I was never hungry.  Today, I already feel better – less bloated.  I want to share my experience with this way of eating and living on this blog and I’ll start with yesterday:

Check out my video review of day 1 here:

Meal #1 was Greenberry Shakeology after my P90X3 workout.  I just mixed it with half a frozen banana and some water.  Shakeology counts as 1 red, the banana counts as 1 purple.


Meal #2 was plain Greek yogurt with a sprinkle of cinnamon (try it – it tricks you into thinking it’s sweetened!), strawberries, and granola.  I’ve provided a picture of the foods separated into containers and then all together in a bowl.  You do NOT have to eat out of the containers – the containers are for measuring purposes.



Meal #3 was roasted spaghetti squash with some leftover meatballs and sausage I had made for dinner the night before.  This meal was HUGE and very satisfying.  I’m looking forward to having it again today.



Meal #4 was just a container of carrots.  Basically, I was coming up 1 green container short for the day so I had to throw that in there.  I munched on them while I cooked dinner.


Meal #5 was a steak dinner with green beans and since I needed another yellow container for the day I had some leftover whole wheat pasta from the night before.  I really wasn’t hungry for dinner after all the food I had eaten that day, but I knew if I didn’t eat, then I would wind up with my tummy grumbling at bedtime and I would be tempted to rummage through the pantry cabinet looking for something to snack on.



I’m looking forward to sharing my journey with you.  I love food, I love eating, and I love showing that you can still enjoy your food while on a health and fitness journey and not feel deprived.

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change of seasons.


Where do I begin?  Life moves so fast these days and I haven’t taken the time to update this blog in months.  I don’t want to let it go, but since I am very active in social media I feel like Facebook and Instagram has sort of become my blog and then I neglect this little space that I have kept for over 7 years.  I have to stop doing that!  I love that I have so many memories recorded here going all the way back to when A was just a few months old.

So, last time I wrote I mentioned that I was going to be leaving my part time position as a clinical dietitian at the hospital.  As soon as I finished my last day, we went to the shore for two full weeks of fun in the sun.  The first week I had the boys all by myself and then MJM joined us for the second week.  It went very well and I felt so grateful that MJM and I were able to provide the boys with the type of summer vacation I was always lucky enough to have.  I would spend two weeks in Brigantine, NJ during the summers as a kid.  Even if my Mom only stayed for one week of vacation, I would often stay the second week with Gram.  I cherish those memories of walking through the dunes to the beach with her, sitting at the dining room table while she read me bits of articles from the newspaper that she always read from cover to cover, watching movies with her and other extended family members that were around in the evenings, going out to dinner in Atlantic City with her, and of course – perhaps my fondest memory is the way she would great all of us every morning: with a smile on her face and ready to fix us whatever we wanted for breakfast.  I can’t provide my kids with the exact same experiences I had as a kid growing up with 2 weeks every summer at the shore, but we will make new memories that I hope they will cherish now and later in life as well.  Being able to resign from my job thanks to MJM working so hard to move himself up in his company and my online coaching business has provided this opportunity that I’ve dreamed of for so long!


For the rest of the summer, we enjoyed lazy days at the pool and playing at home.  During previous summers, I felt the need to make sure the kids were occupied with camps because it was too hard on whoever was watching them to deal with all four kids back when V was still struggling with behavior and we were struggling with how to properly discipline him.  So for the first time in quite a few years, I was able to just be home with the kids and provide them with the type of lazy summer I grew up loving.


Then, school started up again.  V started 5th grade and A started 2nd grade. And I got to be home for the first day of school for the first time since V went to Kindergarten!  My Mom always got to be the one to take their pictures on the first day of school, and it made me so sad that it wasn’t me.


It was a little bit of an adjustment for the boys to have me home all the time and to not be seeing my Mom (Nanny) as often as they were before, but now she has more time to take one of the boys out for some one-on-one time and the boys love it!

Since I last posted we also celebrated V’s 11th birthday.


V only asked for one thing: an iPad mini.  So – we got that for him and nothing else, and he was extremely grateful.  Everything else he received from family members was just icing on the cake.  He had a great birthday, and for his special birthday outing he wanted to do a day trip to Washington, DC.  Unfortunately, the trip was cancelled due to bad weather so we will have to reschedule in the future.  He handled the disappointing news very well.  In the past, birthdays were very tough for him and he frequently had meltdowns – so he showed us just how far he’s come with his own maturity and through the help of therapy.

Five days later, we celebrated L’s 5th birthday.


For our very active boy we gave him many small gifts, but by far his favorite gift was a stability ball.  He loves to bounce around on that thing since he has such a hard time sitting still.  L didn’t want a birthday outing (because he’s quirky like that), but I took the boys to a moon bounce place as a special treat.


I’ve been doing preschool at home with L to get him ready for kindergarten next year, and at first I was worried this would be a failure because he didn’t seem to be retaining anything I was teaching him – but now that we are nearly two months into it, he is showing a lot of progress and I’m feeling much better about it.


He also attends Kids Club at church twice a week.  I’m his teacher on one of the days so I am able to see his level of focus and cooperation as well as his social skills in the classroom, but I’m also able to talk to his teachers on the other day to see what they think.  His behavior is definitely not perfect, but I’m feeling pretty confident right now that it’s nothing that some positive attention and positive reinforcement, some discipline and a reward chart can’t improve.

Next up is A.


This boy comes home every day with a report of above and beyond good behavior at school.  He wants to help others.  He strives to make others happy.  He has a heart of  gold!    I can always count on him to help me at home with his brothers.  He offers to unbuckle T from his carseat when we pull into the driveway.  He helps T get his socks and shoes on and holds his hand when we are out in public.  When we are walking somewhere he can’t help but skip while he excitedly tells me whatever is on his mind.  Sometimes he gets upset when he’s not getting along with his brothers – but a kind word and a hug is all it takes to cheer him up.  He started piano lessons this school year and I think he’s doing amazingly well.  He’s so cooperative with practicing and attentive during his lessons.  He’s a gem!

Last but not least, an update on T.


We started potty training last week!  I had planned to start the day the older boys started the school year, but then I put it off until we went through the case of diapers my MIL had brought over.  It would appear that I am trying to blame my MIL for my laziness and procrastination.  After a long weekend at the shore, I put T in underpants last Tuesday and we went for it.  He is doing amazingly well!  Sometimes he starts to pee in his underpants a little, but he catches himself and heads to the bathroom to finish the job.  Number two has only been accomplished in the potty once, so that will take a little longer – but since the five year old still has problems getting to the potty in time, I’d say T is doing a pretty darn good job right now.  So pleased with this little dude!

So that’s an update on our lives right now.  It’s noisy, it’s busy, it’s often smelly, and it’s definitely chaotic.  But I’m home full time and loving every minute.  Even the times when I’m frustrated (which happen daily – as in MULTIPLE times a day), I’m just so grateful that I get to be so present in their lives.  They are growing up so fast and I don’t want to miss a single minute.


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a chapter ends.

Big news!

Well, okay – not so big, because chances are that if you are reading this, you are friends with me on Facebook or follow me on Instagram and already heard it.  But in case you haven’t heard:  I have resigned from my part time clinical dietitian position and my last day is July 24th!

Thanks to my hard working husband getting a fabulous promotion and my online nutrition and fitness coaching business – I’m able to quit my job and stay at home with the boys. I can’t even BELIEVE it!  I’ve always wanted to be a stay at home mom, but had pretty much accepted that this was not going to be my reality.  I was okay with working part time and so thankful that my Mom could watch the boys so I never had to put a baby or toddler in day care, but I want to be the one raising my kids full time.  And while I’ve always been grateful that my job helped us be able to afford our house and cars and pay the bills – the dynamics of my department have become particularly stressful in the past one to two years and I just desire to get away from that negative environment and source of stress.

So, come July 25th, I’ll be able to focus more on the boys – I get to be the one to wake them up for school every day, I will be able to go on field trips, I will have more time to teach L at home to prepare him for Kindergarten next year, I can volunteer more at church, and I will be able to spend more time on my coaching business and helping others to improve their health through fitness and nutrition.  I’m so excited!

Because I’m resigning, I have some paid time off available to use and I decided to take two days off a couple weeks ago and took the kids to the seashore for a few days.  For two of those days it was just me and the boys, and we did great!  I was able to take them all to the beach and to the boardwalk on my own.  Everyone behaved (for the most part) and had fun.  It felt really good to look at my 4 boys playing on the beach with good behavior, and think back to two summers ago when I felt like things couldn’t possibly be worse.

















I even got the boys to cooperate with dressing nice for beach photos. We intended to do this as a Father’s Day gift without MJM’s knowledge, but then I forgot my camera battery charger and so we had to wait for MJM to arrive with the battery charger so that I could charge the camera battery and take the pictures. And then, the older boys refused to cooperate with the photo shoot when I planned to do it, so they wound up being disciplined and they changed their tune the next day. So, it didn’t go as smoothly as I had hoped, but I got the pictures and MJM got his Father’s Day gift.

Here was our best shot, that I ordered as a canvas print for MJM’s office:


And here are the rest: many are outtakes, but I did get a few nice pictures of the boys. I’m so looking forward to the next time I can take the boys to the shore!  Just a few more weeks of work, and then a new chapter begins!

















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