Wednesday, April 27, 2011

My Thunder Playoff Experience

As I told you last week, Theron and I got to go to the Thunder game last Wednesday. It was game two of their playoff series with Denver, and it was so much fun! My sweet sister came and stayed with us and kept Will for the evening, so we could enjoy a night out. We appreciated it SO much!

I hadn't been to a Thunder game this entire season, so I was really looking forward to it. I always love going, and I knew the playoffs would be even more exciting than a regular game. You could feel the energy as you walked up to the OKC Arena. They had live music, inflatables, and all kinds of other activities set up right outside for everyone to enjoy. Everyone was handed what I thought was banner as they walked through the door. When we got to our seats, I saw people folding them up accordian-style like a fan. I eventually found out that they were the world's greatest noisemakers, helping to make it louder than I had even imagined. Everyone also had a blue Thunder shirt laying on their seat to wear during the game. I was so pumped!

I definitely was not disappointed. The Thunder led from start to finish, completely dominating the Nuggets. While a really close game is fun sometimes, I kind of enjoyed that the game was stress free. The atmosphere also lived up to the hype. It was so loud that my head was pounding and my ears were ringing, but I absolutely loved it! There was one point in the game where the entire crowd was on its feet, cheering loudly and banging their noisemakers. You could see the appreciation on the players faces and you could see the energy it added to their demeanor. I've mentioned before how sporting events often make me emotional, and this was one of those times. Watching this scene play out before me almost brought tears to my eyes.

It is amazing what the Thunder have done for Oklahoma City. In just a few short years, they have gone from being one of the worst teams in the league, to being a true playoff contender. The entire city (and state for that matter) have rallied around them. As I looked across the crowd that night, I loved the sense of unity that could be felt throughout the arena. It was as if everyone had put aside their differences for that night to join together to support "their" team. People of every size, shape, color, religion, political affiliation, and even those loyal to red or orange all stood together in their bright blue cheering on the Thunder.

Because I'm always so deep (ha!), this really caused me to think. What if the Church...not just my church, not just your church, but The Church...the body of Christ came together with this kind of unity? What if we could put aside our differences to focus on the commonalities we share? What if people of every size, shape, color, and even denomination (gasp!) came together for the common purpose of sharing the love of Christ with a world that is in desperate need of that very thing? If we can do this for a sports team, why can't we do it for our Savior who gave up his life for us?

I love Thunder basketball. It is so much fun, and it has truly impacted and changed Oklahoma City forever. It just makes me think of the impact we could make on this city (state, nation, world) for Christ, if we could be so passionate about and unified around Him.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Life Update

Is it Wednesday already? Sometimes I feel like a whole day goes by without me even realizing it. Anyway, we're already to the middle of another week, and April will have come and gone before we know it.

We haven't had too many really exciting things going on in our lives, but we have had a lot of normal "stuff" going on in our lives, so I thought I would give a brief update on what our family has been up to lately.

Will - He is growing daily. I'm always amazed when an outfit fits him one day and doesn't fit 3 days later. I'm afraid one morning I will go to get him out of bed, and he will have burst out of his clothes overnight. He is also learning new things every day and is developing quite a little personality. He finally rolled from back to tummy, and now he cannot get enough of it. I don't know how many times I have put him down to play on his playmat, turned my back for just a minute, only to find him completely off the playmat when I turn back around. He is also beginning the first steps toward crawling. He can't get his belly off the ground yet, but he moves his arms and legs furiously, trying to get to his toys, books, etc. It really is quite entertaining.

He is also eating solids on a regular basis now. He doesn't love his rice cereal, but he is getting much better about eating it. He tried bananas for the first time yesterday and loved them! I'm thinking he might have a sweet tooth like his momma.

Last Sunday, he got to participate in his first ever Easter egg hunt. Of course, he had no idea what was going on, but I was really excited to get some cute pictures!

I can't wait to give him his Easter basket full of goodies this Sunday! I got him lots of fun stuff, and I found the sweetest little book called, "What is Easter?" It does a good job of teaching the true meaning of Easter in a way little ones can understand. Not that I think Will will really get a grasp on the meaning of Easter this year, but it's never too early to start teaching him about Jesus and what He did for us.

Theron - As you all know, Tax Season is over! Theron might actually have a life outside of work again. We are all very excited to have made it through this busy time. Yesterday, he enjoyed the day off, spending the morning at home with us and the afternoon golfing with some of his co-workers. He has also started running again and will be on a relay for the Memorial Marathon coming up on May 1. Other than that, he is enjoying working in the yard and getting things ready in the garden. I can't wait to reap the fruits of his labor!

As for me, I'm working hard at keeping up with my growing boy. He is so much fun these days, and I'm loving every minute. I'm also working hard at growing my Arbonne business. It is something I enjoy because it gives me a little bit of "grown-up" time. I actually really like working, and Arbonne gives me the ability to do that while I stay at home with my little guy. I have set some business goals for myself and look forward to working hard and reaching them! It is also nice to provide a little bit of income for our family. Extra income never hurts! I am really looking forward to summer...filled with lots of swimming and play dates in the park! Since I'm not in an office all day, I might actually get a tan this year! It's been awhile since that happened.

I am, however, most excited about tonight! My sister is coming to babysit Will (and to see me, of course), so Theron and I can go to the Thunder game! The 2nd playoff game to be exact. I am beyond pumped. I haven't been to a game all season (having a baby really does change your life), and I can't wait to be a part of the craziness that is the playoffs in Oklahoma City.

So, there's a little bit of what's been going on in our lives. Happy Wednesday and Thunder Up!

Friday, April 15, 2011

Bierocks Casserole

I grew up eating Bierocks. They are basically a filling of hamburger, onion, and cabbage wrapped up in a yeast roll. Think Hot Pockets...only much better. From the small amount of research I did, I learned they have a German-Russian origin and were brought to America by German Russian Mennonite Immigrants. My husband and I both have German heritage (come on...our last name is Stoltzfus), so I think this is a fun dish to incorporate into our family meals.

I've always loved bierocks, but I will admit, they are quite a bit of work. Making the dough, making the filling, stuffing and wrapping each individual can be a bit time consuming. So, when I found this recipe for Bierocks Casserole, I knew I had to try it.

It is so simple, and we loved it! Of course, I will continue making traditional bierocks from time to time, but this is a nice substitute when we're a little pressed for time.

Bierocks Casserole

1 lb. ground beef
1/2 small onion
1/2 pkg. cole slaw mix
1 tube crescent rolls
salt and pepper for seasoning

Brown ground beef and onion. When cooked, add coleslaw mix, salt, and pepper. (I also added some celery salt, which I thought added a great flavor). Cook and stir about 10 minutes or until everything is cooked through. Prepare a greased 2 quart casserole dish by putting half of the crescent rolls on the bottom of the pan and sealing the seams. Evenly spread the meat mixture over the crescent rolls. Arrange the rest of the crescent roll dough over top of the meat mixture. Bake at 375 degrees for about 20 minutes or until lightly browned.

Brown ground beef and onion.

Stir in coleslaw mix and seasonings.

Bottom layer of crescent rolls.

So, I forgot to take a picture after I added the meat mixture, but I know you're all smart enough to complete that step without a picture. Here is what it looks like once the top layer of crescent rolls has been added. A helpful tip for the top layer:  Roll the dough out on a greased sheet of saran wrap. Then lay it over the top of the dish and pull the saran wrap away.

I also forgot to take a picture of the final product (not a great day for picture taking...or my memory for that matter). Anyway, it looks a lot like the uncooked product, only golden brown. You get the idea. This is a great recipe when you're in a hurry and need something quick and yummy! Try it this weekend and let me know what you think. Happy Friday!

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

The Best Mommy Advice I've Been Given

Saturday, we had a baby shower for my friend Kari. It was so much fun, and now, I am ready to meet baby McCarley! One of the shower activities we did was called the "Wisdom Willow." It was so cute! It was similar to this:
(I stole this picture from this website)

Anyway, everyone was supposed to write a piece of advice for the new mom and hang it on the tree. As I was browsing through everyone's advice, I noticed the best mommy advice anyone had ever given me. My friend Holly had written something like:  No matter what anyone tells you, you are the Mommy, and you know what's best. What great advice for a new mom!

It really hit home with me because since Will was born, I have struggled with questioning everything I do. Am I doing this the right way? Am I doing it at the right time? What will other people think if I do this? Is this going to mess my child up for the rest of his life? On and on and on. I constantly second guess myself and think twice (or three or four times) about every decision I make.

I have read tons of parenting books about sleep, development, nutrition, and various other topics. I constantly read "mommy blogs" and forums. I observe others and see what they are doing with their kids. It just never ends.

When I read my friend's advice, it just made so much sense. I am the Mommy. I know what's best for my baby. Who cares what anyone else is doing? Who cares what anyone else thinks about what I'm doing? I know my baby better than anyone else. I know our family and our situation better than anyone else. Most importantly, I know what works for us and what does not.

Do I think there is a place for advice? Definitely! Sometimes I don't know what I would do without my friends and their advice and encouragement. It is nice to hear from people who have "been there and done that." I also think reading books can be very helpful. I know I have learned so many things that have helped me tremendously through these first few months.

I also know that the books I read and the advice I receive are just suggestions...not absolute truth. Babies are different, and there is no set of rules and procedures that apply to every single one. They all have their own unique personalities, traits, and characteristics, and mommies know these things about their babies better than anyone else!

I am grateful for the one book that does offer absolute Truth...God's Holy Word. I know as long as I am using this resource, I have what I need to make it through any situation, as a mom or otherwise. Thank goodness for God's strength, wisdom, guidance, and grace. It is nice to know that if I trust and follow Him, He will equip me with everything I need to be Will's mom.

I am so thankful to my friend Holly for her advice. On those days where I'm questioning my every move, I will remember to trust my gut and to go with my instincts. And every day I will do the most important thing I can for my baby by offering him my unconditional love.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Food Review: Sonic Chicago Dog

I am not much of a hot dog eater, but occasionally, a hot dog just sounds good. Since Sonic started airing the commercials for their new premium hot dogs, I have been craving one...especially the Chicago Dog!

On Monday mornings, Will and I meet some friends to walk. So, we met our friends this morning and had a fun time walking and chatting just like usual. On the way home, I started thinking about how hungry I was and how we had absolutely nothing for me to eat at home. I also thought about how I should really go to the grocery store, but decided to put it off until tomorrow (I'm a really good procrastinator!). I started thinking about something quick and cheap I could pick up on my way home. I quickly went through the list of fast food places I would pass on the way to my house, and the answer was clear. Today was the day to finally try the Sonic Chicago Dog!

I was not disappointed! Yum, yum, yum! The Chicago Dog has an all beef hot dog, a pickle spear, sweet pickle relish, tomato, sport peppers, celery salt and mustard all put together in a poppy seed bun. Absolutely delicious!

See, in my opinion, a hot dog is all about the toppings, and the toppings are what make this one so yummy. I ate my pickle spear separately, as it was a little difficult to eat with it actually on the hot dog. Everything else worked so well together, and the celery salt gave it a little something extra. I think I will try to find some celery salt to add to things I make at home. It added a really great flavor, and I think it would be great on all kinds of things! Not only did the hot dog taste great, it only cost me $1.99 (plus tax, of course)!

I was very pleased with my decision to stop and try Sonic's Chicago Dog today. I think their other hot dogs look good, too, but I'm not sure I want to try any of them after having this one. This won't be something I eat all the time for multiple reasons (I don't eat out very often; it's not the healthiest meal; I just don't eat hot dogs that much), but it was definitely a nice treat, and I would definitely eat it again.

So, if you're in the mood for a hot dog, you should stop by Sonic and try one of their new premium hot dog selections. And, of course, Sonic (or anyone else for that matter) did not pay me to write this. It is simply my opinion. If Sonic would like to pay me for this, I would be more than happy to accept their offer, :). I would even settle for free drinks for life.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Out of Shape

I hate to admit it, but I am really out of shape! It is so sad. I lost my baby weight very quickly (another post for another day), and I decided maybe I didn't really need to exercise as much. Oh, how wrong I was. I forgot that exercise is not always about weight loss. It is also about keeping your body healthy...your heart, your muscles...everything. I am quickly realizing that while I may not need to lose weight, I definitely need to exercise more!

I have taken being in shape for granted. You see, I can't even remember the last time it was this bad. I started gymnastics when I was 3. Yes, 3-years-old. I stayed in competitive gymnastics until I was 13. I quit gymnastics because I had finally reached middle school and was able to do basketball, cheerleading, and track. I eventually dropped basketball (everyone else kept growing...I did not), but I continued with cheerleading and track through the end of high school. Then, I even went on to do track in college. After college, Theron wanted to keep running. I figured, I was going to all these races anyway, so I might as well run in them, too. I started with 5k's, then half-marathons, and eventually, a full marathon in November 2009.  I took a little time off after my marathon to let my body recover, but after a few weeks, I was exercising regularly again.

Then, around the end of March 2010, I found out I was pregnant. I wanted to do everything I could to keep exercising throughout my pregnancy, and I did. However, the intensity was much less. I was able to run or jog for awhile, but eventually, it got uncomfortable, I had to pee every 5 minutes, and it just wasn't worth it. I walked almost every day, though, and even bought a "walk indoors" DVD, so I could walk when it was cold and nasty outside. I also did low impact exercises and used hand weights almost daily. By the end of my pregnancy, I was pretty pleased with my fitness level and how well I had done to at least stay somewhat in shape.

No one told me that the hardest part came after you had the baby. Sweet Will was born in November 2010. I knew I would have to take about 6 weeks off, so my body could heal and recover from the delivery. I didn't take into consideration that even after my body had healed I would be tired! And busy! And trying to figure out how to take care of a newborn! And, did I mention tired? I thought my 6 weeks would come and go, and I would jump back in right where I left off. Sometimes I am delusional. This was one of those times.

Now my baby is 4 months old, and here I am. The most out of shape I have been since I was 3-years-old. Seriously. I have been walking 3 or 4 days a week for a few months now and felt like I was still in pretty decent shape. Today, however, proved me wrong.

I decided I needed to add some variety to my exercise routine. Just walking was not enough. I was ready to regain my muscle tone, and I knew walking along could not do that. So, I put in the old Jillian Michaels 30 Day Shred DVD. I thought...just a 20 minute workout...this shouldn't be that bad. Then I died. I was aching and panting and holding my side and getting cramps in my legs. It was terrible! 

Then it hit me. This is why people don't exercise. It's hard. It hurts. It actually really sucks. I had not experienced these feelings in a really long time. So, even though I hate being out of shape, I'm kind of glad I'm going through this experience. I will get back into shape. I promise. But I will have to struggle through it just like everyone else starting from scratch. I hope this will help me to be more encouraging to people around me who may struggle with exercise. I also hope it will help me to be more understanding when people become discouraged and want to quit.

Getting out of shape stinks, and this is not just true of exercise. You can "get out of shape" in your eating habits, in your quiet time, in spending time with your spouse or your family. Exercise had become such a regular part of my life, I didn't realize the discipline, the effort, and the sacrifice it required. It had just become natural. Once I stopped, it was not a natural part of my life anymore, and I realized just how difficult it was to get started again. The same is true of all those other things I mentioned above (and just about anything else you can think of!). When you have a quiet time on a regular basis, it just becomes a natural part of your day. If you stop, even for just a few days, it is difficult to get started again. If you eat healthy foods on a daily basis, it just becomes natural for you to eat healthy foods all the time. If you take a break, it is often difficult to start consistently eating healthy foods again.

The good news may be difficult, but it's not impossible! I am going to get back in shape. It won't be easy, but I know it's something I need to do. If there's something you need to start doing again (or stop doing), I hope you will. I always find the most challenging things are the most rewarding. Now, let's get going!

Monday, April 4, 2011

Theron or Will?

Since the day Will was born, people have said he looks just like Theron.  Everywhere we go, we hear, "Wow, you look just like your daddy!"  I have to admit, I get a little frustrated by this. I mean, I know his daddy is good looking, and I know Will is the cutest baby ever, but I let him live and grow inside of my body for 9 months! Shouldn't I at least get one little feature? So, I have been somewhat in denial and constantly searching for something on Will that looks like me. However, after going through some of Theron's baby pictures, I just can't deny it any more. He looks like his daddy. Here is the proof:



    Theron                                              Will 

                                             Theron                                Will

Oh well. At least I  have two good looking men in my life!  I guess I will just enjoy them.