Green Grass

This quote hangs in my house. 

I went through a phase in my life where I was spending my day thinking about the future, when the diapers would end, when I would have my body to myself again (no more pregnancies, or breastfeeding), when my kids could be my dish washers, and take out the trash. 

I realized I was looking at the grass on the other side, and neglecting my grass. I decided it was time to appreciate my days and my nows. I told myself that every stage of my life can have green grass, if I just take the time to water it, and spend my time finding what I love in the day I am in.

Although I'm not perfect, I have seen positive changes in my life as I have been applying this concept in my life. This quote inspires me daily, maybe it could inspire you

click here for my design

Honey Mustard Mozzarella Chicken

My husband said, "I love this dinner, It makes me feel like I'm rich and dinning somewhere expensive"

Enough said! This is going to be a regular at our house ;)

The recipe is on MyRecipeMagic. Get the RECIPE HERE

One thing I love about this website is you can search for recipes with certain ingredients. It comes in handy when I buy something in bulk (like 5 lbs of ground turkey) and need some more dish ideas for ground turkey!

Gym mom

I never thought I would be a "gym mom"... The mom that goes to the gym everyday to work out and drops her kids off in the child care room. I thought those moms were a bit self absorbed and how selfish of them to use their time on themselves and not with their kids.

Well my perspective has changed! This winter I had my third baby (a beautiful girl, to add to our two boys.) That made 3 kids ages 3 and under. I felt like a super mom! 3 young kids was easy! The first two weeks were a breeze...... but then things started to build. I had a bit of sleep deprivation, my oldest unpotty trained himself, my middle child entered his Terrible Two Tantrums, the snow had kept us trapped in doors, and slowly I began falling behind on all the house chores. I found that the stress was building and getting worse everyday. This is when I decided to become a "GYM MOM" let me tell you the benefits.

1) An hour away from the stress each day really helps the rest of my days run smoother, and keeps the crazy at bay.

2) Exercise is helping my body regain the strength I lost while I was pregnant and I am finding I have more energy and I don't get worn out as quickly as I used to.

3) Exercise is also a great stress reliever and is a healthy way to release it.

4) Not only is my body healthier but its looking better as well. (as shallow as this is to say, it does help my confidence)

5) AND my kids love it! They love getting out of the house to play They ask if they can go and run to the door when we get there. And my baby girl I feed her before I go in and she sleeps the whole time. She doesn't even know I'm gone.

So if any of you are in the same position as me, investing in a gym membership is the best thing I've done for myself this year.

Carstens Cartoon 3

This one made me laugh so hard when I heard this come from my dads mouth

Back in my pageant days I was trying to watch my figure and this was my dad's response to me saying I had to watch what I eat.

And to be clear Merl is no one person but a collage of people ;) and if one of your quotes come out of Merl's mouth it is because it is funnier coming from Merl ;)

How We Share the Love

A friend wrote this blog post 

She is the mother of that adorable baby! I love her blog because she just tells it how it is! Her latest post was How can you love your kids equally? 

"I love chocolate all the same amount but I love Rolo's more since they have Carmel, (yes, I did just compare kids to chocolate)"

I thought this was a great question. I too had the same questions and worries a few years ago when I got pregnant with my second child. In fact, I had a whole list of worries...
  • What if I didn't love the 2nd child as much as I loved currently loved my 1st child
  • What if I loved the 2nd child more and the 1st child was neglected
  • How can I love them at the same time
  • Maybe neither of them will have my full love because my love will be split in half 
But all those fears were put aside when I had my baby. I had that instant connection with my second child.  For those who haven't had a child, this is how it feels for me. One second I'm just a pregnant lady and then the next second the baby is born, and I'm it's mother. I have never met this child before, I don't even know their name, or their personality but I have this extreme desire, to protect, provide, and LOVE this child. It is the fastest instant connection one will ever feel. It has happened like that with all my children and I have never needed to worry about if I loved them.

So I guess I could say just have faith that it will happen like that, but I'm sure those of you out there who haven't experienced it would like some examples. 

I'm sure everyone has relationships out there where you love two or more people in different ways but couldn't choose between them. Besides my children, I have my siblings, and my parents.

PARENTS- I love both my parents the same amount, but not in the same way.

If I want help making a sandwich, I want my mom
If I want help changing the oil in my car, I want my dad

If I am sad and need comfort, I want my mom
If I am stressed and need advice, I want my dad

If I want someone coaching me through an activity, I want my dad
If I want someone to encourage me through an activity, I want my mom.

So in different situations I would favor one parent over the other, but if I was asked to give up one of my parents I couldn't choose because I truly need both of them in my life, and there would be a void if one of them was missing.

SYBLINGS- I have two brothers and one sister. I am the oldest, but for the sake of keeping my brothers apart I will call one big brother and the other little brother, and they can guess which one they are ;)

If I was going to go see a movie I would want to take my big brother
If I was going to go shopping I would want to take my sister
If I was going to play a game I would ask my little brother first

If I needed unconditional love I would go to my big brother
If I needed help understanding someone else's point of view I would go to my sister
If I needed someone to have a good laugh with I would go to my little brother

my big brother provides stability
my sister provides balance
my little brother provides peace

They each bring something different into my life and in specific situations I could choose a favorite, but overall as my siblings I couldn't chose just one. I love all of them.

I love pickles and carmel equally but not in the same way
I like pickles on my hamburger and
I like carmel on my ice-cream,
I wouldn't want to eat only hamburger or only ice cream. 
They both have their place in my life
One is for when I'm hungry for a meal, 
One is for when I'm craving some sweets
SEE, Equal but different. YUM YUM

I've learned Love doesn't split, Love grows. 

Once I knew that I would love all my kids the same, I was worried if my kids would know my love for them and not feel less loved. I've worked extra hard in showing my children how to love each other and share that love, in hopes that they can see I love them as equal as they love each other.


Losing Weight

In the past 4 years I have gained a total of 130 lbs (mostly) due to my 3 pregnancies. I have lost 90 lbs and 70 of those lbs were all ME and my hard work and self control.

Are you one of those moms that walk out of the hospital with your pre-pregnancy pants on and lose weight while your breastfeeding? Well I'm not talking to you (I am so jealous of your luck) I'm talking to moms like me who have to work to get that extra weight off. With each of my kids I come back from the hospital (in my prego pants) and jump on the scale to find that I have only lost their birth weight! I'm like, "what?!?!?!" What about the water and the placenta? Didn't those weigh anything? And I lose ZERO weight breastfeeding. Infact, I gained weight with my first one while breastfeeding.

I've had to make lifestyle changes and do it myself.

What got me thinking about this is I was down on myself for this extra baby weight that I am carrying from my newest 4 month old baby and I realized I'm not giving myself enough credit. I did the math and as you can see above I could have easily gained 130 lbs overall but I've been doing so good, having already lost about 70% of my baby weight. That gave me the boost I needed to keep going!

Do some of you need to loose baby weight? Or just plain self induced weight? Well I think I'm becoming a bit of an expert. Haha not. But I do have my experiences and my opinions.

We all know how to loose weight. Exercise more and eat less. Plain and simple. There are no magic answers... BUT there are programs and products I have used to help me eat healthy and get moving.

Baby K
Gained 45lbs during pregnancy
Gained 5lbs breastfeeding
Lost 25 lbs

"Jillian's 30 Day shred" DVD-didn't work for me. I wasn't seeing the results fast enough, I lost interest, and couldn't stay committed.

P90X- workouts and modified diet - This was a great program. I did the workouts and loved them! I really felt the burn and I swear I could feel the weight dropping. We also did the diet kinda. We didn't eat fish and I did my own protein drinks and bars instead of buying the P90X stuff. I was losing 5 lbs a week. But was only able to do it two weeks before I got pregnant with my second child.

I would probably recommend this program to people who are used to working out, because it is very intense.

Baby G
Gained 45 lbs
Lost 50 lbs

Wii Fit- I started on this and was so upset when the wii fit guessed I was 60 years old.  I did lose some weight on this and finally got down to the right age.  I would only recommend it to people who are very out of shape. It isn't that much of a challenge.

UP band- the up band kept me moving. I set it to buzz if I hadn't moved for 30 minutes during the hours I was awake. It kept track of my movement, so i could make sure i was getting enough steps a day. Not only did it help me loose weight but it helped get a lot of stuff done. The only down side was I didn't like the cover over the head phone jack. I would always come off and I would lose it, but I would use something like this again.

During this time I walked 30-45 minutes a day pushing a double stroller with a baby and toddler. I was surprised at the results I was seeing from this simple activity.

Lose It app- I put it on my phone and found a lot of success using it.Basically it is a calorie counter. My favorite feature is a scanner for food you eat that has a bar code. It made logging calories convenient. I also liked how you could eat anything as long as you didn't go over on your calories. Naturally I just stopped eating crap food because I learned if I ate those foods they would leave me hungry and I couldn't eat anything else. I also had a lot of family support, at the time we were living with my husbands family and they were all really supportive.

Baby C
Gained 35
Lost 15 (so far, only 4 months out)

Gym- Jon's work gives him a free membership to a gym so we were able to up grade to a family package for a great price. We are so blessed. I do their classes, use their weights, walk their in door track (which is very useful during the winter) and play basketball with my husband! I have a WHOLE other post on my gym experience.

Skinny Rules by Bob Harper- I got this book at my local library and read it. I think it is a great set of rules for eating healthy and I agreed with almost everything he said. It was nice to have those rules to look at and keep me on track, but I mainly used the book for its menu's and recipes. With three kids it was nice to just follow his menu's and not have to plan meals, and worry about what to buy at the grocery store.

My goal is to ultimately lose 30 more pounds, and 20 of those pounds by time she is 9 months. I try not to be to hard on myself and take it slow. After all it took 9 months to put the weight on.

One woman who really inspires me is Natalie Hodson. I met her when we competed at Miss Idaho and she is an amazing woman. 

She has had two kids and is great at getting back in shape in a realistic way. She documents every step of the way and shows us that things take time and we need to love our bodies in every stage. This is her website, but I really love following her on Facebook

So tell me about you, what things have you tried? what is your story?

Carstens Family Cartoon 2

Here is our next cartoon

Do any of your kids do this? Our little boy does this all the time. When we give him a bath we can see everything he ate that day. We noticed he rubs his hands to try and get stuff off and if it doesn't come off then he rubs it in his hair. I love him!

What I learned about myself while potty training my boy.

It is always so surprising how much I learn about myself from my kids, and potty training was one of those experiences

1. I have a short attention span- I always thought I  had a great attention span, but I realized if I don't find something interesting, I could be watching or looking at something, but none of it is registering because my mind is elsewhere thinking about things that do interest me. I just didn't know that about myself until I tried to watch my sons little bottom non stop for days on end.

2. I take my kids successes and failures too personal- I think it is good that I recognized this early in my kids life, so that I can work on this. I need to only feel accountable for my OWN successes and failures. When it comes to my kids I need to be a rock of support and love and let their successes and failures be theirs to learn from.

3. It is harder to do a lot of nothing than it is to do a lot of something- I already knew this but potty training my boy really brought this lesson home to me, as I spent my days getting nothing done, so I could have eyes on my son, literally every waking hour

Potty Training, Inspiration Quote, what I learned

Also this boy has proven harder to potty train than the first. I have a 3 kids under 3 and so I'm having a hard time dedicating all my time to potty training and I think that is the root of the problem... if any one has advise or tips on how to entertain one toddler, while potty training another, with a 4 month old that I'm breastfeeding... well your advice would be welcomed ;)

Award Winning Turkey Chili

This Chili has won awards at chili competitions and it will be a winner in your home too!

Get this award winning RECIPE HERE

I have all my recipes on I love having a digital copy of all my recipes. One time when we were moving we temporarily lost my recipe box, and I was devastated. I just started cooking a few years ago and have hardly any of my recipes memorized. I can't cook without my recipes! Thanks to my recipe magic, I can access my recipes anywhere there is an internet connection.

Carstens Family Cartoon

Here is our Cartoon Strip I created, because our family is too funny to NOT have one ;) (at least I think so) Anyway hope to bring you some giggles on this blog!

For those of us that know us you might see some similarities in the cartoon. There are some inside Jokes too, like how Jon wears long sleeve shirts with shorts, and he teases me because when I was little I wanted my name to be Misty Dawn, he says all I needed was a verb and my name wold be a sentence.

 another funny thing about BMI Charts... they are not very accurate when your pregnant

Roasted Sausage Apple and Veggies with hearty gravy

This dish for us was new and exciting. It is also a good way to convince the kids to try new veggies. You can use pretty much any veggie, but we found this one to be our favorite combination ;)


One reason I love putting all my recipes on is because they figure out the Nutritional Facts for you. Which makes counting calories on my home cooked meals 100 times easier!

Here are the nutritional facts they put together for this recipe, thanks guys!

Philly Cheesesteak Mac N Cheese

I love Philly Cheese Steak Sandwiches but my kids won't eat them. They don't have the palate for sandwiches yet. BUT NOODLES.... that is a different story they will eat almost anything that has noodles! So this dish makes everyones belly happy ;)

Get the Recipes HERE!

I love storing my recipes on this website. It is my virtual cook book, so I have my recipes with me on my phone wherever I go!

Quotes to Inspire

I heard two quotes this week that really inspired me and I decided to make some designs to print off and use around my house

Here is the first one from Elaine S Daltons talk at the 185th General Conference for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints

I love this quote because as a mother and house wife the routine and become tedious and there isn't much acknowledgement for the things you do. But this gave that encouragement and fire to do my part WELL, to do it the best I can, because my part does matter and it is important

Also the symbols on this quote are significant. This is called a "magic square" and each of those symbols stand for a number. (Count the sides of the polynomials and that is the number it stands for the x is 10 and the || is a 2) You can then add the rows, columns, or diagonals and all three numbers will add up to 18. This adds to the quote because if you move any of the numbers it will no longer add up to 18 in all directions and no longer be a magic square. Every number has in important place and their place matters!

Here is the second quote from David A. Bednar from the 185th Conference of The Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints

This quote just inspired me to think deeper about sin, and I loved how the metaphor added to my understanding of sin. I thought it was worth sharing as well.

If you want to be inspired, there were many good talks at the 185th Conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.

I love doing designs like this for my house, and I love designing wedding announcements too!