Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Slow Cooker Chicken & Barley Stew

You simply MUST try this stew!  It's amazing!  I reposted the recipe from my dear friend Valerie Woeste over at her blog Healthy Life.  She is the master at clean, healthy, easy, and tasty recipes!!  

Serves: 8
  • 32 oz low-fat, low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 tbsp garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp garlic sea salt
  • 1/2 tbsp thyme
  • 1/2 tbsp basil
  • 1/2 tbsp cilantro
  • 1/4 tbsp dill
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1/2 tbsp fresh ground black pepper
  • 12 oz boneless, skinless chicken breast, cubed (uncooked)
  • 1/2 cup uncooked black-eyed peas, rinsed and picked through
  • 1/2 cup barley
  • 1 medium sweet onion, cubed
  • 20 oz potatoes, peeled and cubed
  • 10 oz carrots (3 large), peeled and cut into 1/2-inch slices
  • 8 tbsp greek yogurt (optional)
  1. Fill a slow cooker with broth, 8 oz water, garlic, herbs and pepper. Add chicken, peas and barley, then layer onion, potatoes and carrots overtop. Liquid should just cover vegetables. Do not stir.
  2. Allow to simmer overnight, at least 4 to 6 hours. Remove bay leaves and stir before serving. Spoon 1 cup into each bowl and top with 1 tbsp greek yogurt, if desired.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

HUGE Holiday Sale!!!! Get Healthy for Christmas!!!

If you have been looking for some outrageous fitness deals for the holidays to jump start your New Years resolution - I have just what you need!  Our annual holiday sale kicks off TONIGHT 11/25 at 7 PM CST and runs through December 2nd!!!!  But don't wait - things will SELL OUT FAST!!!!

Holiday Promotion Link (Will NOT be a live link until the sale starts at 7 PM CST!!!): 

Attached are images of our sale & as always I will be offering a free accountability group to coach you through the items of your choice!  Please contact me at OR for details!!

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Best Crockpot Recipe Ever! Family Favorite!!!

Even though I stay home with my kids and work at home I still feel that dinner time crunch!!! Planning ahead in the morning for dinner that night always helps our evenings run more smoothly. Here is our family favorite - we eat it almost weekly! Let me know if you like it! 

3-4 frozen chicken breasts
1 can low sodium black beans
1 can corn
1 jar salsa
Optional - diced peppers & onions
Cumin, chili powder, salt & pepper to taste
Water - if you add more water it becomes a soup- less water and it becomes a taco filler or use to create a taco salad

Cook on high 6 hours, shred the chicken, add Greek yogurt, avocado, and low fat cheese if desired!

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Through Ollie's Eyes

I plead with you to take some time to read through this.  It's probably one of the most raw posts I have ever put out there and it needs to be read, it needs to be spread, it needs to CHANGE your heart and hearts around you.

I want to offer you a view through Ollie's eyes, through my daughter's heart.

Can you imagine walking into a room and because of the characteristics on your face you are automatically labeled and discounted.  Like you are wearing a giant sign around your head that says "Treat me differently!"  That people immediately discredit your intelligence, your ability to communicate, your ability to learn.  That they don't know how to treat you, what to expect from you, and because of that they lower all expectations because you couldn't possibly be capable of "typical" peer interaction.  Can you imagine people being scared of you because you aren't the "same"?

Can you imagine working twice as hard as your peers to walk?  Can you imagine spending endless hours a week in therapy so you can speak more clearly?  So you can write your name?  So you can cut paper?  So you can jump or stand on one foot?  Seriously would you be that dedicated to doing everything your peers are doing - would you work that hard?

Can you imagine what it would feel like to hear someone drop the word retarded right beside you like it was some hilarious joke?  A tard - so - so funny right?  To have jokes made about you about the "short bus".  Mongoloid?  Fucktard?  To be labeled Downs and referred to as Downs - not your name but she is Downs?  Really?  Because my daughter is not one of those things but others label her as such.  It sounds terrible doesn't it - but I've heard ALL those this week.  This one single week.

Can you even fathom for one tiny second how that would make you feel?  Because as her Mom.  I feel all of that.  It cuts me, it makes me cry, it makes me strong, it makes me mad, then it humbles me to BE THE CHANGE I so desperately want to see in the world.

When we know better - we do better!

Ollie Faith is 3.  I don't see Down Syndrome in Ollie.  I very rarely even remember she has Down Syndrome because she is that much like a typical toddler.  I treat her like she's 3, she has the same expectations, same discipline, and she rises to the occasion like every other 3 year old.  Ollie is funny, ornery, super stubborn, majorly sweet, and a enriches the life of our family in more ways than I can count.

But this week she has been devalued in small ways that compound each day.  Because each person that drops a derogatory term around me devalues her life.  Each person that underestimates her devalues her life.  We can do better.  She deserves better.  I only wish that people saw HER not a diagnosis.  That they wanted to know HER & learn about HER not how to treat her differently.  That they stopped their friends from using words that were hurtful and replaced those words with respect.  Because she deserves it.  

Ollie works so hard to make everyone around her feel loved and important.  It's her gift in life, her gift from God to bring and spread joy - but if you are not open to HER - the real her - you will miss all of it.

Please stop labeling people and making assumptions but ask questions, get educated, be respectful, make friends, and help us change the world for her and all her friends because they deserve better.

Friday, May 30, 2014

Lucy Claudette

We had to put down our beloved pug this spring.  She was having some major health issues and living in pain.  It was terribly hard.  She became mine when I was 20.  I adopted her from an abusive home. She slept with me all through college and was our first baby.  She welcomed all our babies home and was the best dog ever for kids!

We still miss Trudie Claudette!

I didn't think we'd get another dog, but the kids were certain the Easter Bunny was bringing a puppy.  So I searched high and low and found this girl - a Boston Terrier!

I picked her up and officially became the #bestmomever!!

Her name is Lucy Claudette.  She's 5 months old this next week.  I thought I was getting a dog for my kids - truth is I got a dog for myself.  I absolutely love this girl! 

She's super sweet, doesn't shed, sleeps in my bed, and spoons me all night!  Plus her nose is freckled - I love it!  Life is good with Lucy.

Plus, I get to say "I Love Lucy" all the time - that is worth it right?!  Yep I think so!

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Ultimate Reset - 21 Day Vegan Cleanse/Detox

So Tuesday the 27th I kicked off the Ultimate Reset for the 3rd time.  

Why?  I just have fallen off the wagon too many times to count this winter & spring.  I needed to refocus and this gives me just that - 21 days of focused meal plans & recipes to detox & cleanse my body so I can hit my workouts again with more energy & more excitement!

Day 1

What is it?  It's a 21 day whole foods vegan cleanse.  It kicks off with some eggs, salmon, chicken, and yogurt but after the first week it's a completely vegan diet.  It sounds miserable doesn't it?  It's honestly not.  I have huge portions - tons of clean food & solid recipes to get me through.  The toughest part is mental.  That clearing of the children's plates where there are left over goldfish just begging you to eat them.  And tossing them in the trash because they aren't on plan.  Oye that's always tough!

So what are the benefits?  For me I just as a whole feel a lot better.  I wake up without an alarm refreshed and ready to hit the ground running without coffee - it's amazing really!  I typically lose up to 10 pounds in 3 weeks - everyone loves a little weight loss & lack of belly bloat!

I'm also fairly certain I have some food intolerances - I feel so amazing after this then I quickly blow it and eat some gluten or dairy.  This time I'm going to work hard to pinpoint what foods are triggers for me after this reset so I can continue without them!

I included all the pictures & stats of my starting point.  So far I'm down 3 pounds & getting past the caffeine headache withdrawals - that part stinks!  I'm looking forward to feeling amazing & will be sharing some meals/supplements here soon!  Stay tuned!

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

You Better BELIZE It!

So Mother's Day...not to sound like the worst mom ever, but it never goes as planned in our house.  Usually it's the one weekend my kids decide to go bat sh*t crazy & fight like mad.  I host cookouts and am generally exhausted when the day is done.  #truth

So almost every mother's day I have proclaimed that the next mother's day I'm spending the day all by myself at a spa or mall.

Oh I'm a hateful Mom, but for real when you spend 24/7 with your kids as a stay at home mama - sometimes you just need to get away!  Feel me?

So this year I did.  The day after Mother's day I took a #girlsTrip -(note capitalize the T on that or it takes on a new meaning when using Instagram!)  I flew out with my coach, mentor, and dear friend for a week in Belize!

It was magical!  It was refreshing!  It was just what I needed to get reinspired in life - to be a better wife, better mom, better friend, better business woman.  We all need balance and sometimes balance comes from the outside - by getting away, unplugging, and re-engaging with life!

In all honesty I wondered what in the heck we would do for a full week to ourselves - how would we entertain ourselves?  We with a condo smack dab on the beach in one of the most gorgeous places in the world - there was no time to be bored!  We had a stunning view, incredible front porch on the beach, and the nicest resort staff to boot!  We laid out, listened to music we can't play around our kids, enjoyed adult beverages, kayaked, paddle boarded, at our fill of chips and salsa & GAUC!!!! 

 We took a day trip to Belize City - hopped in a van and took off almost to Honduras to tour a mayan ruin (the history nerd in me was geeking out!!!).  Then we went zip lining and cave tubing through Jaguar Creek and saw real LEGIT Jaguar foot prints - creepy cool!  Our friend was crazy brave and tasted termites - I opted to jump into a cave river off a rock - I'm not one for legs in my mouth but she proclaimed they tasted like carrots!  What?!  How?! 

We took in all the glory that Belize had to offer & Facetimed our babies at night.

It was incredible.  I'm incredibly blessed to have a husband that fully supports my business, dreams and aspirations and that says honey - take a week off and I'll handle the house!  I came home to a fully cleaned home with all the laundry and dishes done - I have trained him well <3 a="" allows="" amp="" and="" dear="" do="" experience="" fortunate="" friend="" good="" have="" i="" is="" job="" life="" m="" me="" nbsp="" nd="" od="" p="" so="" that="" to="" travel="" with="">

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

What To Expect If Your Baby Has Down Syndrome

There used to be a time when fear consumed me.  I let the what ifs take over me.  I sobbed on my husbands shoulder.  I envisioned my life to never be the same.  And my biggest fear - how will I survive if my baby doesn't survive her open heart surgery?

I would turn it over to God only to pick that burden back up again.

I put on a mask when I went out in public.  I pretended I was coping just fine.  I acted as if I wasn't scared but faithful in the Lord.

And at times I was OK.  At times I walked cloaked in faith.  But I struggled daily.  Sometimes God's plans are really REALLY hard to understand when you are walking in them.

What I have learned in the last 3 years is what to really expect when having a child with Down Syndrome.  Someone once gave me a book about what to expect, I read a few chapters and threw it away.  I hated it.  Most books and pamphlets are so outdated the material is beyond depressing.

I have learned to turn toward blogs, follow families living out my fear, and in that I found some peace & friendships I still lean upon today!

When Ollie was born I learned to expect everything from her.  I learned that I couldn't set the bar lower for her than my other children, but instead I had to set that bar just as high.  She meets expectations and generally exceeds them - if I give her the opportunity.  The only people limiting her is how we treat her!  I refuse to limit her.

I have learned that I have to paint out my expectations for others.  Some people still don't see the beauty in a child like ours.  It makes them uncomfortable so instead of asking questions they become stand offish BUT if I set the expectation out there & tell them how we feel about our child - their entire mood shifts.  And I know it sounds odd and weird but I've done it many times.  I would be a rich woman for the amount of times people have told me "They are so sorry."  My response has always been, "Why?  I'm not."  It throws them off every time and sparks rich conversations where I have an opportunity to share the truth I now live.

I have learned there is beauty in "imperfections".  I don't believe Ollie is one bit imperfect but in the eyes of many she is.  There is great beauty in all her God given pieces.  Her crooked pinky fingers, the light spots in her eyes, the way she smiles, the way she looks so much like her friends that it connects you to a world of people you now love like your own.  Her tiny little heart beat that doesn't beat quite as it should but it's healthy - oh that heart beat is precious.  The way she smiles with her whole body - I can truly see her smile from the back of her head she wears it so well!

I have learned that God's plans are always best and in time they always make sense.  I have learned that unanswered prayers are often answered - just not as you have requested.  I have learned that having a sibling with Down Syndrome doesn't limit your other children but makes them better, more compassionate, more understanding, more open hearted, more open to the world in general.  My big kids are incredible in their level of understanding differences and embracing everyone for who they are.

I have learned that kids & adults can both learn about Ollie.  I have learned how to be an advocate.  How to be a hard ass and stand my ground when I need to.  I have learned to partner with others, and to realize that sometimes complete strangers want to push my daughter to her capacity too!  Sometimes strangers become your closest friends and fall in love with your child just on how she works so dang hard to do everything she can do.

I have learned that when the cards are stacked against you - some how you come out left handed adding another card to the deck - but you can still draw stinking circles - big deal there folks!  Left handed circles!

I have learned that staying inside my shell is no longer possible.  That by being vulnerable, being real, sharing our daughter, sharing our story, and shoot sharing her photo on public social media avenues opens up a whole big can of worms of what ifs BUT it does a heck of a lot more good.

I have learned that one single post teaching that the R word (retarded) is HATE speech can spread like wild fire on social media.  Why?  Because our daughter was created for a purpose much bigger than me and her ability to breathe joy and life into others is much more than I could ever be capable of by myself.  That by sharing her - others are blessed, others are reached, others are educated.

In 3 years time, I've learned that not every day Down Syndrome is awesome (some medical stuff always sucks) but 99% of the time it rocks our socks & we would never ever dream of life any other way.

Fear is abolished, God has prevailed!  Every day I thank the good Lord for that single extra chromosome that has made all the difference!

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

An Ode To Trudie

12 years sounds like a long time, but in actuality I think 12 years flew by faster than I could keep track of.

I adopted Trudie Claudette from an abusive home when she was 6 months old.  When I got her she was extremely underweight, her collar was so tight her neck had no hair on it when I removed the collar, her back legs were slightly deformed, and she had the most quirky personality.  I'm fairly certain she was in her kennel a majority of the time and teased by little kids constantly.

Trudie Claudette - Mailman Hater, Nap lover, Food Vaccuum, Tiny Friend 2002-2014

I took her home with me to my apartment at SIUC and we became the best of friends.  I had a two hour drive home and she loved sitting on my lap as I drove and she always napped.  She was teeny tiny back then.

When Jade & I got married she moved in and was our first child.  I actually drove her to my Mom's house every morning to be babysat - ridiculous much?  Maybe a little.  She slept in our bed and I spooned her every night!

She welcomed home all 3 of our babies and allowed them to all lay on her and abuse her in their loving kid ways.  She moved from our bed and started sleeping with them - under the blankets of course!

Yesterday we had to say goodbye to her.  She was having some severe pain in her back hips and I just knew it was time.  It was incredibly hard and I did the ugly cry at the vets office then in my car before I left the parking lot.  Putting your pet down sucks - I know there are worst things in the world but none the less it ranked up there with a pretty bad day in my book of bad days.

We buried her under a group of big trees in our yard and the kids said their goodbyes.  It was a hard shitty day.  I took a nap and ate donuts to make myself feel remotely better for a bit - yes even I skip workouts and eat garbage at times - it's my old habits that pop up when I'm emotional.

The only highlight in the day was when we walked out to bury her and right beside her grave Everett Mason was peeing - boys will be boys?!  At least it was a good laugh to get us through her funeral and lay her to rest.

Today I keep looking for her, trying to feed her and put her outside - life is weird without her - but today we are all doing OK.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

All is Well In Ollie Town

I apologize for a lack of an update but girlfriend saw a hematologist in St. Louis and everything checked out A-OK.  We were blessed with an answer - she does NOT have leukemia - praise Jesus!  She had a virus of some type that messed up her blood work!  She had a routine blood test at her 2 year checkup because leukemia is very common in toddlers with Down Syndrome - they always check it, but fortunately it's not a part of her story.

So we are thrilled, we celebrated, and continue to celebrate!

God is GREAT and he blessed us with an incredible girl that continues to bring abundant joy into our hearts!  

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Ollie Update

I just got off the phone with STL Children's and feel much better about things.

We moved her blood work up to yesterday (the 24th).  Her numbers were improving but her Dr. wanted to have hematology take a look at it just in case.

Hematology doesn't feel that her numbers are a huge concern but to be cautious we are going to go in to see them and do some more blood work.  

I'm super thankful to live near a major hospital capable of taking care of my sweet girl & that they are proactive enough to take a second look to be sure all is well!

Keep praying but things are looking up!!

Friday, February 21, 2014

Prayers for Ollie

Friends, I'm coming to you again for prayer for my sweet girl.

She had some routine blood work done and the results aren't typical.  Jade & I don't want to breathe life into a what it could be situation...we know what her results could be but we know we have no control and we really don't have answers at this point.  And worrying about a what if will drive us mad.  We have walked this line before with accepting Down Syndrome and handing her over for Open Heart Surgery.  We know all we can do is submit it to God and let HIM rule in our home.

So we ask you please storm heaven in her name.  Share her with your friends, families, and prayer chains that on March 11th when we revisit labs for bloodworm that all is A OK and that she is healthy and strong.

*****The doctor has changed her opinion and we will redo her blood work Monday February 24th and if it's still off we will see a hematologist in STL Children's within the week.  I'm counting on an awesome follow up and no appointment in STL.*******

~Jade & Annie

Friday, January 17, 2014

Healthy Living With Kids & A Spouse

One of the most common questions I get as a Mom on a health journey and now teaching others about health and fitness one of the most common questions I run into is, but what do I feed my kids?  I don't want to cook two meals.  What about my husband he isn't on board?

And here is my response, and it may sound harsh, but don't cook two meals.  They eat what you eat - period.

My take on this has always been, if you don't like what I'm cooking - cook your own dinner - totally applies to my husband as well and trust me once he was offered that option he stopped complaining because at least there was dinner on the table right?


So what have we changed?  Clean eating doesn't mean the end of the world, it doesn't mean you need to find 30 new recipes to make dinner totally new and exciting every single night.  Chances are most of you are eating the same foods week to week anyways and there are ways to clean them up and make them healthy.

We still eat pizza - gasp - oh the horror!  We totally do.  I often make our own dough with whole wheat flour or sometimes I buy pre-made crusts that are whole grain.  I use tomato sauce as my sauce with some italian spices and top it with chicken and veggies and low fat mozzarella cheese.  We love it - I eat my portion size & I'm happy and done.  The old me would have ordered pizza out and stuffed myself until I had to unbutton my pants then I'd eat more in the night or the next morning for breakfast - true story.

We still have burgers - gasp again!  But now instead of ground beef (my Dad will hate me for this since we raise cattle) - we use ground turkey and I mash up black beans, corn, and organic corn tortilla chips into the ground turkey with some cumin & chili powder and then I make patties.  Top it with some avocado - hot diggity it's good guys - seriously real good!  Also fast!

So that's just a few examples of how we eat now versus how we used to eat.  Eating clean can be fast, it can be flavorful, it can be EASY if you don't over complicate it.  Look at what you like to eat and ask yourself can I remove or replace ingredients that aren't the best options?  Most of the time the answer is yes and by taking those small baby steps over the course of 6 months to a year you will overhaul the eating habits of your entire family, shed some weight, and definitely feel better because you have eliminated a majority of processed foods if not all processed foods from your diet.

And as far as exercise goes do it.  If you have to pause because your kids are coming in and out of the room - so what!  At least you are doing it right?  If your baby wakes up - do squats or lunges while holding your kid.  Do chest presses with your kid - they will love it and it keeps you active.  Be an example to your kids - let them workout with you even if it's a bit cray!  Show them how fun fitness can be!

When a hubby won't work out, won't get on board - don't push him.  Let it happen at his pace.  Don't argue over it because it just makes him not want to join you.  Be the example to him, change yourself and he will come around.  It took Jade two years to join me and now he's a different man & we workout together.  I was worried about his health & high cholesterol, but it had to take him wanting to change for himself before he was ready to join me.  Just imagine if your hubby harped on you to get healthy it would make you mad - same goes the other way.  Be supportive, be encouraging, love your husband, and the day will arrive :)

If you want some meal ideas of what we do as a family check out my eating clean guide.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

A Journey To A New Me

Many of you have followed me for several years.  You knew me when I just had Aubrie and Everett and decorating was my passion.  You saw that shift big time in 2010 and you prayed for my pregnancy and you really prayed for me as I handed Ollie over for open heart surgery.  You have loved on my family immensely and I'm ever grateful for you!

You have also watched me dive into fitness after Ollie was completely healed from her surgery.

Things you may not  have known were some of our larger struggles that I was far to embarrassed to write about at the time, but perhaps you suspected anyway.  I had a pride issue and was far to proud to admit we needed help at the time.  I was completely unpaid on my maternity leave and our income was cut in half - we live in a new home we had built & I had a relatively new car - it was bad.  I had a very very gracious employer who kept me on health insurance through Ollie's surgery and never allowed me to reimburse them for my premiums - my company and bosses were amazing!  But aside from that we really struggled.  My best friend put together a baby shower where we were given gas & visa gift cards.  With our hospital 2 hours away we drove a lot and Ollie saw doctors weekly if not more than once a week.  We had hotel stays, food on the road, and co pays of roughly $400 or more a month by the time we would see all Ollie's doctors.  

On top of a baby in heart failure, fear of bills is a lot to handle.  It was kind of to the point where you really don't care about money too.  You say eff it right?  Or I did.

We were forced onto public aid, social security disability to be exact.  Jade & I felt almost as if we were pimping out Ollie's diagnosis to get a check to help us survive.  I know that isn't true, but when you have worked so hard for everything you have and it crumbles so quickly and you are forced to do the necessary it's just a kick in the gut - I don't know how to compare it to anything else unless you have been there yourself.

Ollie got better.  We started seeing less doctors.  I started sewing & making jewelry - anything to help us make $20 at a time so we could get more groceries.  We just couldn't get ahead and didn't know how.  I knew I needed to be a stay at home Mom.  Ollie needed home therapy and I didn't want to hear about her progress or delays second hand.  I knew I needed to be home.  So I officially quit my job, my good job, gave up our insurance, and we went on medicaid.  Yep it was worse than before.

But an opportunity opened up for me August 2010.  Through my personal fitness journey I became a coach.  I was hoping to find my way out of the body I had created through stress and anxiety.  I was trying to find something each day to do that was mine, that would make me confident in my own skin again.  And I did find it.  But I never expected to find an opportunity to make more than $20 at a time.  However, I found it.  My coach led me into growing a business.  A business that in 3 months time helped us get off of social security disability.  A business that planted the seed of a dream in my heart again that I COULD have more.  That would could take care of our family without state aid.  That dream made me dive all in with a passion of helping other people because you see, by helping other people that is where my personal success was found.  You can't be successful if you don't make a positive imprint on the lives of others.

My first full year of coaching in 2012 I earned $20,000 - half of my old income - but I had generated it in a few hours a week working from home - helping people and helping myself.  I was confident.  I had friends that supported me and loved me and understood my trials because they had been there themselves.  

This past year has been a whirlwind.  I really committed to helping a lot more people and helping my friends, that became coaches alongside me to find success.  I had the ability to share my story on stage in Vegas in front of 7,500 people.  And it was more than my story it was an opportunity to tell the world my child has Down Syndrome and is a rock star.  The crowd cheered!  It was a huge shift from two years ago when I'd say my daughter has Down Syndrome & people responded I'm so sorry.  To advocate for her on that grand of a scale was truly God given.  I have ended up ending 2013 as a 5 star diamond, Elite coach which I know means nothing to you but it's a big accomplishment for me.  I also ended ranked 85 out of a company of 150,000 coaches in less than 2 1/2 years.  I have done it by sharing my families story, changing our health, and helping others.

It's truly all given to me by God but it blows me away every day that I'm on my way to a 6 figure income, at home, at a desk in my living room, with 3 kids around me on a snow day, all by changing lives and loving on others!

Thank you all for your prayers and support - I know I don't blog enough and I'm working on changing that in 2014 but I wanted to share with you what our last 3 years b/c girlfriend is almost 3 - what's been going on!!


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