What to Pack for the Hospital (Mom and Baby)

As we prepare to hit the baby hotel aka the hospital for Teddys arrival, I finally got our bag packed! We went into pre-term labor at 36 weeks and all I had at the overnight hospital with me was a toothbrush, so learn from my procrastination skills and pack ahead. Thankfully Teddy didn't come at 36 weeks but the second I got home from the hospital I packed my bag for me and him.

Here's a sneak peek of what I included in mine. My first baby I am almost certain that I walked in with enough stuff for a 1 week stay, so this is my simplified list after 4 babies.

Scroll to bottom for video. Links for products under pictures

For Baby:
2-3 Outfits (they give you a onesie in the hospital so I usually let the baby trash that one and then I bring a few, along with a cute coming home outfit) The Oh Boy outfit can be found here at this boy clothing company USE CODE ALLIEDARR for 10% off and the One Handsome Fella is from Carters.

2-3 Blankets (they also give you one at the hospital which I love for those "hospital pictures" but then I love wrapping them up in cute ones for additional pictures. Hands down a must have is a blanket from Jennifer Ann personalized with their name. I went with Teddy and Theodore to cover all my bases. Jennifer also has a FB group where I snagged a few more items HALF PRICE!

Booties or Socks, my friends swear by these booties because they "stay put" on their teeny feet so I am giving them a whirl since I lose baby socks at a rapid pace. The booties are from Zutano. They snap on so hopefully they hold. I got brighter colors so I don't lose them.

Camera- I bring my more fancy camera for those first moment shots of baby, heres where I come up with ideas for those pictures.  Because when I look back every year on their birthday, these pictures of their tiny features bring me to tears. So capture those moments girlfriend!

Also along with camera....CHARGERS galore, for your camera, phone, computer, whatever you need.

For Mom:

Mom clearly needs a little more haha.

2-3 Nursing Tanks, these are a Godsend my friends, they keep you covered and feeling semi human after birth. And will also be a daily staple the next few months. My favorites come in a 3 pack of different colors and can be found here (amazon prime for the win!)

Toiletry Bag- Pack whatever you would need for a weekend away, toothbrush, hair stuff, make up, chapstick, face wash....all the stuff you need to put yourself together. I cant tell you how good showering and putting a little make up on feels the day after birth. 

SNACKS- I might be a rule breaker during labor and sneak snacks, but these are also awesome for late night feedings or late nights when you just stare at your baby. I pack protein bars and also Shakeology to give me a boost when I am feeling depleted. 

Nursing Bras- I am borderline obsessed with these bras in the picture. They are comfortable and easy access. They are "sleep bras" which I wear all day, because they are awesome! They were both less than $10 on amazon, I just buy the colors that are cheapest! Heres the black one and the $6 grey one.

Underwear that you can toss if need be. Since your body is leaking all sorts of wonderful stuff and you're wearing big pads, grab a pack of undies a size or two up. I grabbed some on amazon as well. Can you tell I don't like leaving my house for things haha.  

Postpartum Leggings- from BLANQI! GUYS these are actually my #1 pregnancy must have. I was nervous buying them because they are pricier, so when I first bought them they had the Postpartum leggings on sale, so I grabbed those for after baby. Well I put them on around 20 weeks pregnant and never took them off, they are FREAKING AMAZING. I now own 3 pairs lol, one of which is now in my hospital bag. They pull up high to right under your breasts and are SO COMFY, there is no digging into your skin, just pure heaven. You can get yours here and save 20% off! 

Sleep shirt that buttons up- These are so handy for being comfy and also feeling semi covered in the hospital. I grabbed one at TJ Maxx and got a size up, because nothing is worse than tight clothing after a baby, so size up and get comfy. Its easy nursing access as well and comfier than those hospital gowns. 

Going Home Top- This nursing sweatshirt is THE BOMB! I love that it doesn't look like a nursing shirt at all and is still stylish. Ive noticed a lot of shops coming out with identical ones to this grey one, but I got mine from Seraphine Maternity 

Lastly, cozy socks are a must!

Heres a video on all the items as well <3 nbsp="" p="">

Not picture are Car Seat and also since its December my favorite car seat over to keep them toasty!

Best EVER Healthy Brownies

I forgot how AMAZING these were until I whipped them up last week and they were gone in 2 hours. They are so addicting and also its kind of insane how little ingredients make them and they bake up just like brownies. Very fascinating to watch!

Like I always give as a disclaimer, especially when I say that the recipe is paleo, gluten free, dairy free, grain free, is that I WILL NEVER share a recipe that doesn't taste good. I have made so many that taste like cardboard and its just time and money wasted, therefore I will save y'all the hassle and only post things that are magical, like unicorns. I also am not a fan of reading books before getting to a recipe, so let's get to the real reason you're here. THE RECIPE FOR THESE BABIES!

The BEST Paleo Brownies:

Here is what you will need. ...

4 eggs
1 cup cocoa powder
3/4 cup pure honey plus more 2-3 TBSP if needed after you check sweetness level
3 TBS coconut oil
2 tsp vanilla
pinch of salt

*HOLIDAY TWIST- You could add a drop or two of peppermint oil*

Melt the coconut oil and mix everything together, I did not even use my mixer, I just hand mixed it all, it was so easy. Pour it into a pan, I chose a 10 inch pie pan but a 9x9 or 8x8 would work!

((Bake at 350 for 20-30 minutes, mine was done quick so I would check it around 20 minutes!))

While its baking make the frosting, which is so freaking easy as well. The only downside is you have to let it chill for awhile before you whip it.

Here is what you need:
1 cup dark chocolate chips
1/3 cup coconut oil
1-2 TBSP honey
1 tsp vanilla

Melt them over low heat in a saucepan.

Once melted place in a dish in the fridge for half hour, you could put it in the freezer to speed that up a little. After that whip it in your mixer on high until somewhat fluffy.

((it tastes like fudge, no joke!)

After its done baking let them cool, cut your brownies and place on a plate and frost them!

Enjoy for as long as they last in your kitchen!!! *hide some from kids if necessary*

Bread-less Stuffing

I am a stuffing-aholic at the holidays. My stepmom always made the best stuffing, with hams and apples which sounds weird but I legit craved it every year, and would savor every last bite of leftovers, hiding the stuffing from my kids and husband in the fridge. When I started hosting Thanksgiving a few years back, I carried on her stuffing tradition and its become a family favorite. Last spring though I discovered how much gluten wreaks havoc on my body and my first thought was "MY STUFFING", along with all the other wonderful gluten filled things I adore. This is why you see a lot of my recipes adapted to gluten free which is shockingly not as bad as I feared. 
Anyways, get back to the darn stuffing Allie. My friend Melissa sent me a recipe of a stuffing that included no bread and swore it tastes like the real deal. I wasn't sure to believe her or not, considering veggies and bread are nothing alike, but figured I would give it a whirl and if it wasn't great I would just eat it as part of my meal prepped veggies for the week. 

Well quite the opposite my friends, me and 2 of my littles demolished the whole pan in less than an hour. IT IS AMAZING! I made a few tweaks to the recipe which you can choose to skip, whatever you fancy. I then went back to the store, and got more ingredients to make a double batch, so I made 3 batches of this in one Sunday afternoon. And I will be enjoying it everyday til Thanksgiving and then will make a fresh batch for Thursday dinner!

You will need: 
(serves 3-4 so double for Thanksgiving)
4 TBSP butter
1 onion diced
2 carrots diced
2 stalks of celery diced
1/2 TBSP garlic minced 
1 head cauliflower diced
1 cup mushrooms diced
1 Granny Smith apple diced
1 cup ham diced
1/2 cup chicken or veggie broth
2 TBSP fresh rosemary
1/4 cup fresh parsley
1 TBSP fresh sage

I chopped everything first so I didn't have to worry in between. 
Apples and Ham are something I added so it tasted more like the stuffing I personally love but Jordan and I agreed it was necessary and made it more hearty and filling, but feel free to skip if you're not a fan. Or if you don't like ham, you could do turkey or even chicken.
Saute butter, onion, carrots, celery and garlic for 8 minutes.
Add cauliflower, mushrooms, apple and ham, with salt and pepper and saute together for 5-10 minutes.

Lastly, add broth, and fresh herbs. Simmer together for 10-15 minutes or until liquid is absorbed and serve! Enjoy every last bite! If you make it let me know how you like it! <3 nbsp="" p="">

Prepping for Childbirth...

You would think I would have this whole childbirth game perfected by now for baby #5 but I learned early on never expect it to go a certain way, just to have goals and to push for them.

All the boys births have been different but all ended how I wanted them to, in being natural. I am not a fan of pain of any sort, I cry when I stub my toe and purposely avoid hard workouts because I don't like the burning pain and feeling it all over, its just not my idea of fun. So its very weird that I opt to go through pain every single birth, its the weirdest thing. Ill try to give a quick baby recap and then wrap up with my goals for Teddys birth. 

What made my mindset be for natural births? Before our first son I watched the Business of Being Born and that's what sparked my interest, I was fascinated by everything childbirth and also the fact that 100s of years ago women had no option to have birth any other way and it sparked a fire inside me to learn as much as I could and try that route out. We toyed around with a home birth but when we asked them some scary questions like "what if I start hemorrhaging" we weren't comfortable enough being our first baby to try. So we instead hired a doula because Jordan and I had no idea what to expect and we read over and over The Bradley Method book. I went into the hospital with my "birth plan" all typed out, doula and "Bradley Method" husband beside me. It was the hardest, most rewarding thing I had ever done and it wasn't without pure craziness. My doula passed out while I was pushing, the OB on call kept telling my midwife to get me an epidural because I wasn't aware how hard it would be, they invited a team of interns in to watch me birth, and funny enough, after he was born I started hemorrhaging BAD, it was terrifying, I thought I was for sure going to die. Everytime they pushed down on my lower abdomen, golf sizes clots would come out, they had to quickly go back in and yank out a piece of my placenta that was freakishly still attached causing the massive blood loss. But in the end he was healthy, they stopped my bleeding and we succeeded in our first childbirth experience.  Heres his birth story.
After Vincent came Luke, where I expected his labor to be quicker and it proved to be much more mentally taxing than anything. I remembered the pain much differently and weirdly didn't feel as prepared with him, even though this was our second rodeo. Jordan was freaking amazing as a coach, and kept my eyes on the prize for a natural birth and praise the Lord, it was achieved. Here is Luke's birth story.  
My favorite birth of all time was Judes! My goodness if every labor could go this way I would be the happiest human alive. The only issue was that his birth spoiled me so much that I was stressed out badly nearing the end of Sams pregnancy and was in for a rude awakening. Jude came within 25 minutes of me stumbling my way into the hospital. My doctor wasn't even there yet and I delivered in my own clothes that I ripped off minutes before I said "I cant wait, I have to push". His full birth story is here and one that I will never forget. Its also one I still hope and pray will happen for Teddy.
And then came Sam, I was 125% certain his labor would be even quicker than Judes, so I was on high alert. We decided to be induced, because I was 3cm dilated and had huge success in the past with them breaking my waters and labor starting instantly for me. I was certain we would break waters and things would just FLY. WRONG. It was a painful 7 hours of walking, lots of hail Mary's, second guessing my decision and cursing. Here is his birth story.  

There's always a risk when you allow doctors to break your waters, I did it 3 times and thankfully each time it played in my favor and Pitocin was avoided. And then there's always a wild card like Jude tossed in there with a labor you're not even able to comprehend and before you know it, they are out.

Our 5th labor was Henry, at 20 weeks, and honestly this is the one that haunts me the most. If you didn't know in 2015/2016 we were pregnant with our 5th son, Henry. We lost him at 20 weeks pregnant. (you can read here) SO Teddy is technically baby boy #6 but because I don't feel like rehashing to every person I meet, I refer to Teddy as baby #5 so they don't wonder where the other child went. Clearly in my heart and mind, there is never a day that I don't think of Henry, he will always be my child. Back to the delivery, it was supposed to be semi-quick and not too awful physically. It was the complete opposite. Everything that could go wrong, did. They induce you and had to use the maximum dosage on me because my body just wouldn't go into labor. Everytime I thought I could push, it was blood clots upon blood clots. I lost 1/3 of my blood supply trying to deliver him, I begged the doctors to not let me die, and it was the most horrifying experience of my life. He finally arrived hours and hours later and I was crushed, crushed because I lost my child, crushed because my body was not functioning and it was horrifying. We had the priest in there twice, during labor because I was certain I wouldn't survive and needed God, and then at 2am after Henry arrived to pray over him. I had to stay a few days extra to receive blood transfusions which just made the crummy situation, even crummier. Even typing this brings flashbacks that are not fun as I sit here and cry.

Needless to say, I am VERY nervous for labor this time. As of now I have decided I wont be anxious to induce or break waters and I want to allow everything to happen as it should at its own time, no matter how anxious I get towards the end (so please call me out if I'm whining haha). I want to achieve another natural birth and my main goal is to get through this birth without insane blood loss or mishaps. This is also one of the reasons I am pushing to be as healthy as possible so I can go into this ready for the physical and mental battle that will be coming. I'm a whole ball of emotions, I am excited, I am eager, I am anxious, and I am terrified all rolled into one. 

SO I am going back to square one and preparing mentally as if this was my first birth, to go with the flow, listen to my body and keep my eyes on the prize, deliver a healthy baby when HE is ready. To be open to everything that could happen and to remember I am strong and capable through all of it. 

*I wont lie, I am glad I typed this out there, because I was holding a lot of emotions about this and its nice to lay them out there a little and see that I have delivered 4 beautiful healthy boys with no big problems and that with Henry we forced my body to do something it wasn't ready to do, to deliver a child 20 weeks early.

Now to cheer this post up and leave you some tips of what I have found helpful for my 4 natural births: 

1. READ EVERYTHING that you possibly can about natural childbirth.
I highly recommend Natural Childbirth- The Bradley Way and I did not read but have heard Ina May's Guide to Childbirth is excellent as well. ALSO a must watch is "The Business of Being Born"! I would suggest that even if I wasn't going natural. It is so informative. If you have Netflix, you can watch it online for free!

2. DOCTOR- Make sure ahead of time that your doctor/midwife supports natural birth, the last thing you need is your doctor and the nurses coming in telling you to get an epidural since your in pain...it is GOING to hurt obviously but having them tempt you is not cool or fair for your goal. I had the best midwives who supported me, the doctor on call tried actually ordered an epidural to my room, she claimed "She does not know what she is doing (since it was my first), she will want an epidural" When I heard that claim she enraged me EVEN more to do it naturally. It was so worth it! PS that doctor was a lady, that made me even more mad, where's the faith in fellow women??? lol

3. DOULA-/CLASSES I went with a doula over taking classes. (your choice) If you do not know what a doula is, it is a birth coach essentially. She came over and talked with us, kind of like a class, then she came the day of the birth to assist and coached us through it. This was so helpful with my first birth, she was amazing. If you think doula's are a bit pricey you can find a doula in training because they need to assist with a few births before they can be certified, that is what we did, I can not explain how helpful she was!

4. BE MENTALLY PREPARED- HAHA As if you could ever be mentally prepared for it. I mean have your head in the game when you go into labor. I honestly had envisioned the worlds moist excruciating pain the weeks before the birth and when the pain I experienced was not as intense it helped me put into perspective that I COULD DO IT naturally. (I am not saying that it does not hurt but I envisioned it as something way worse) Also I think it helps it you totally block out any pain medicines as an option from your mind, that is also another way I coped. I just told myself that there was no other option (I mean I knew there was, I'm not silly), it just helped me being in that state of mind!

5. PUT YOUR GAME FACE ON! haha Childbirth is not flattering, it is down right some crazy work! Just go with it, if you poop on the table, so be it! (Yes, I said poop on the table haha) Those things happen along with an array of other gross stuff, and things may not work out as perfectly as you had in your birth plan, but I can tell you that the minute you hold your baby any pain or drama during labor that you felt will be non existent! Every ounce of pain along the journey is well worth it!

Pumpkin Spice Donuts

Another Gluten Free-Dairy Free- Sugar Free Recipe coming at you!! 

These little donuts were gone in about 2 hours from our house. All the boys, including the husband LOVED these little suckers!

My amazing friend Melissa comes up with the best recipes and when I saw this I knew I had to try it out. I used a silicon mini donut pan and also a silicon pumpkin one I had.

Whenever you are making recipes, I always remind people to adjust to their liking, sometimes when I try "healthier treat" recipes I don't find them sweet enough so I will add a little more honey or even more spice, so try the batter and make sure its to your liking. Nothing is worse than making something you won't eat.

You will need: 
5 eggs
1/2 cup almond milk *or whatever milk you fancy 
1/2 cup pumpkin 
1/2 cup honey or maple syrup 
1/2 cup melted coconut oil 
1 tsp vanilla 
1/2 cup coconut flour
1 tsp baking soda
2 tsp pumpkin spice
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon. 

Preheat over to 350. Coat your pans in coconut oil to avoid sticking.
Mix together all the wet ingredients and then add the dry ones. 
Bake at 350 for 20ish minutes. 

Note: if you have never made donuts, like me, the batter is thicker than you would expect.
Cool on a cooling rack and then get fancy with how you top them! 
I chose to do:
Cinnamon/Sugar *which if you are sugar free use stevia or xyitol. 
Chocolate Frosting
Chocolate Frosting and Sprinkles

For the frosting:
1/4 cup chocolate chips (I love Enjoy Life mini chips- allergy free)
1 1/2 tsp coconut oil
1 tsp honey

For cinnamon/Sugar combo.....
melt a little butter or coconut oil and brush on before adding the cinnamon/sugar. 

*I added more and less of each til I got the consistency I wanted of this, play around until it works for you, allow it to cool to get a tad thicker as well if you'd like

ENJOY these as long as you can....they will leave that counter of yours insanely fast! <3 nbsp="" p="">


Twix Bars (Healthified)

Every Halloween, I raid my kids candy for Twix.
The quite literally are my favorite candy of all time and I try to avoid them at all costs but let's be serious when they are mini size, they seem to make a lot more sense, one goes down and then you end up eating 5-10 before you know it.

((As many of you know processed sugars and gluten trigger my anxiety and fibromyalgia symptoms like NO OTHER so its why I do my best to avoid and find healthy hacks (I promise to post about the sugar and gluten beast soon))

I decided this year to arm myself before Halloween night with something sweet that I could eat instead of the real twix bars and I will let you know when I'm up against the real thing tomorrow night! 

My friend Lyndsey made these babies the other day and I knew I had to try them out.
I made a few modifications because I was out of some ingredients. 
These were pretty darn simple to make and I sped up the process by using the freezer to harden the caramel layer. 

So let's look at some drool worthy pictures before I give you all the details.
Get in MY BELLY. 
Here's what you will need:
8x8 pan (I just used a circle one because for some reason my 8x8 disappeared) 
Parchment Paper
Oven set to 350.


2 Cups Almond Flour (or could sub with Gluten Free All- Purpose)
2 TBS coconut flour (or use try more gluten free flour) 
1/3 cup Coconut Oil melted
1/3 cup Honey or Maple Syrup

1/2 Cup Almond Butter (or any nut butter)
1/3 Cup Coconut oil melted
1/3 cup Honey or Maple Syrup
1 tsp Vanilla
1/4 tsp Salt 
*1/4 tsp cinnamon if you fancy 

1/4 cup Coconut Oil melted
1/4 cup Cocoa Powder *add more for deeper chocolate flavor
2 TBSP Honey or Maple Syrup
1/8 tsp Salt 

Mix the crust toppings in a bowl. For some reason my crust was a tad thicker (might not have measured perfect) so if that's the case, add some almond milk. Place parchment paper in bottom of pan and press crust into the pan. Bake at 350 for 10-20 minutes, until its a tad firm to touch. Take out of oven and cool. Once cooled, mix your caramel ingredients and pour over the crust. Place in freezer for about 30 minutes until hard. Mix the chocolate mixture and pour onto the caramel, it actually starts to harden as you pour on. Return to freezer if needed to harden before cutting. Once hard, cut into whatever size pieces you fancy, store in a container in your fridge until gone. 

These are so freaking good, the boys all love them as well! The only adjustment I would make is thin out the crust next time, but it could be because I used a circle pan vs. square, but I will try them again with thinner crust. Overall they are a WIN!!!! 


Redefining Motherhood

The definition of mother is: a female parent. 
There's a lot of things to be defined as, I'm a mother, wife, friend, daughter, sister (in law), coworker, woman, human being and I'm sure many other things that will take far too long to list. There is no "good" or "bad" before any of those titles because I want to change the game of life. On the drive home this weekend I scrolled my Facebook to find articles of all sorts of things, and giggled at one titled "good moms don't have sticky floors" and was going to scroll right by like usual but decided to peek inside and see the reasoning because as most of us hear, the quote goes "good moms have sticky floors because XYZ" which I go between both ends of the spectrum so now I was confused where I fit 😂. This fueled the fire inside my belly of the constant battle to be a woman, good moms do this, bad moms do this, do this, you should raise your kids this way, your kids should never say the word "no", you need to make sure you don't say "yes" too much,  your kids should wipe their butt and say their ABCs by age one or you're doing something wrong.  I wanted to throw my phone and scream "I've had enough!!!", but frankly I am shocked my screen hasn't broken yet from all the drops. It goes every which way, every single day of the week there's another comparison for us to live up to. For far too long I fed into this insane thinking, that I wasn't good enough because I didn't take my kids to story hour, that because I did like organics and healthy eating I was labeled as one of those moms, that I should breastfeed til a certain age because that's what they say to do, that I should NEVER feed my kids fruit purée BEFORE rice cereal, that I should never co-sleep or that I should always co-sleep, that I wasn't doing enough as a mom or wife, or that I was doing too much. It's a like a a yo-yo, constantly second guessing and judging our worth on what the latest article brings, it creates divides between women, it creates straight out wars between who's right and who's wrong. It's frankly exhausting. 

What if we just were the best versions of us, what if we were neither classified as good or bad moms, good or bad wives, good or bad friends, what if we were just taken at face value for who we are. What if we were accepted and respected for who we were, for having a squeaky clean horse or a house that looked like a bomb went off, for being accepted if our kids show up in PJs or dressed like a Gap catalog, what if we cleared the BS of these wars and just accepted each other for who we are and accept the fact that we are all doing the best we can. What if we don't have a checklist for how "mom" someone is, I feel like sometimes others are sizing you up as a mom, making sure you check all the boxes before you can enter the clubs. We all excel in different areas, we all are passionate about different things, we all have different triggers and emotions, we all value things at different rates. None of these things should qualify someone as good or bad, it should qualify them as a living, breathing human being with a brain to think for themselves. Someone who deserves to be loved and accepted and not torn down because they may think different.

I don't expect us to all be best friends and sing kumbaya around the fire roasting marshmallows or organic veggies, but I do think we can ALL be better. Better at being open minded, better at changing our hearts away from judgement, better at loving. I can tell you something, I guarantee that one thing we all have in common as moms is a fierce love for our children, an overwhelming sense to want to do the best and be the best version of ourselves we can be for them, but it's insanely HARD with all the racket, all the should dos and shouldn't do. So let's level the field, let's take away the teams and let's just all be MOMS.

Once again the definition of mom that I found was "a female parent" not a parent who never cusses, a parent who always reads a bedtime story, a parent who never allows GMO, a parent who has clean floors and laundry put away before going to bed. None of that. So why do we over complicate this? 

I'm Allie, I'm a mom of 4 going on 5 and I want nothing to do with any groups or clubs, I'm my own person and march to the beat of the drum that works for me and my crew. I just want to be a mom, and love these babes the best I can and I cheer you on, on your path to do the same.  

Share if you want to do the same! 🙌

Hiking McAfee's Knob with Kids

We did something my anxiety ridden self never thought we would do, especially while being almost 32 weeks pregnant. While on our fall mountain trip, we hiked a 7.8 mile trail with the 4 little boys to visit McAfee's Knob, a mere 3,179 feet high,  the most photographed spot along the Appalachian Trail. 
Last time we visited Roanoke my husband went on a solo hike while the boys and I slept in and had breakfast, and mid hike he sent me a picture of him on sitting on the edge of a cliff, I about died y'all....my husband, father of my 4 kids wasn't just out for a stroll in the woods, he was sitting with his legs dangling off a freaking CLIFF on top of the mountains. 
When he came back that day I told him he was insane and there was no way in God's green earth that you would ever see my butt up on that ledge.....

Never say never...

This week we decided to extend our little weekend trip to West Virginia and travel down to Roanoke to explore the mountains there for a few extra days. For some wild reason, at almost 32 weeks pregnant I found the idea for us to climb that mountain, with all 4 kids a good idea. I am fairly certain I grow extra balls while pregnant, or I extract those balls from the little baby boy in my belly, either or haha!

Let me preface this all with a few disclaimers if you don't know me well.

I LOATHE long walks with kids, I can't even stand the zoo for more than an hour or so, wrangling 4 kids. Its just not my thing. I am the mom who likes my kids at home, in my backyard, fenced in. 
I HATE heights, they scare me and make my skin crawl.
I don't like any physical activity that takes more than 30 minutes. I'm kind of a pansy.
I have never hiked a mountain or anything near it. I am more the drive me to the top and lets take a cool picture and that will be my "mountain experience".

SO the sheer idea of walking 7.8 miles, 32 weeks pregnant with 4 kids (ages 3,5,7,8) just seems delusional, right? 

To my husband, not so much and thank God for him pushing us to do crazy things and getting me outside that comfort zone or else my kids would live in my backyard and not explore the world. So its a blessing in disguise. 

The hike was 3.9 miles up to the overlook cliff, and it was something special. Jordan and the older boys were 10x faster than me and the two littles which was probably best for me, I needed a slow pace. While I was mentally battling myself to keep taking each step, I was having to hold hands of two littles who were also mentally battling. The constant "how much longer" and "this is taking FOREVVVVVER" from Sam was enough to make me want to turn the train around but I knew we had to keep pushing, one step after another even if it was slow. 

Everytime I thought we were close we would still have another mile to go, Jordan was so far ahead I had no idea the distance we walked, and every time we passed someone they would explain how much further we had but I kept smiling and telling the littles "we are almost there, we have water and snacks and will be there soon" and about 2.5 hours later we made it. 
The view was incredible and honestly the pictures are insanely deceiving, it is an insane cliff but the ledge is MUCH wider than the picture appears, but I was still on SUPER high alert, psycho status. 
At the top, we sat and ate our snacks, Sam spilled out our entire water supply of course so we only had a few swigs each, but thankfully it was a cooler day and a slow pace that we could make it. 
For me this was an insane mental and physical victory, doing a thousand things I was terrified to do, things I swore I would never attempt, things at the start of the hike I didn't think were possible. I told Jordan I wouldn't sit on the ledge, and he encouraged me to just try it. So I made sure the kids were WAY FAR BACK so I could focus on the ledge and not 4 little kids movements on a mountain and I inched myself out there. I realized this was one of those ONCE IN A LIFETIME moments and I needed to push myself through the anxiety and get on that ledge, because nothing is more defeating in life than looking back and wishing we had just tried harder, or pushed a little more and I didn't walk 3.9 miles 32 weeks pregnant to not walk away with a victory. So I inched my booty out there slowly and was legit holding my breath the entire time. When I slid my feet over I looked out and took some deep breaths and took it ALL IN. 
I couldn't freaking believe it, I couldn't believe we hiked it, I couldn't believe I was sitting there, I couldn't believe any of it. It was MAGICAL and terrifying but oh so beautiful. 
The older 3 were very cautious but listed to daddy and went out a good amount on the ledge.
We stayed up top for about 30 minutes and started the 3.9 mile trek back. I wish we had brought more food, drinks, and just had a lunch up top. I also wish we would have brought back up chargers because our phones died right after the pictures. There was about 10-15 other people all in different spots on the ledge just hanging out, soaking it all in. There were dogs and all ages of people. It was a really cool vibe up there. Just a bunch of strangers taking in the most gorgeous view ever.

On the walk back we knew the boys were just exhausted and done, the hike up alone was more than they had ever walked in their lives in one day. We took a slow pace the whole way down and stopped a few times to rest for 5 minutes and then continued on. The best part was walking hand in hand with each of the boys with no distractions, we talked about EVERYTHING and got so much quality time together. The entire hike took us about 6 hours round trip, it was far from perfect but we made it and conquered it together. It was such an exhilarating experience and one I never would have imagined the "old me" doing.

My biggest advice for traveling with kids is to just GO, don't over think it. Drop all your expectations and just take it one step at a time. My kids had a GREAT ADVENTURE and will have stories for a lifetime about this hike. And I will have memories that would have never been made in my comfort zone of my kids in my fenced in yard. 

What If?

"What If".....
Over vacation with limited cell service I had a ton of time to sit and reflect. We all in our lives can feel uneasy around others, whether it be a look someone gives, gossip you hear, a text message that seems snippy, or just a cold encounter, we start to build up our own script of how they feel about us, and let's not kid more times than not it's insanely negative. We start to build walls and defenses and rebuttals for why they are wrong and we are right. We get angry and offended and quite frankly it can ruin days and weeks and take us lots of brain space. Last night I got into that rabbit hole with some situations, and I got negative, I got angry, I got defensive and it wasn't going in a good mental direction for me. 

Our brains can build some pretty insane stories up. A simple thing can go from zero to sixty in a millisecond. From personal experience I remember once asking J if he wanted to sneak away and get lunch, and he said no (is he insane!?! Lunch sans kids is like a tropical vaca) Of course my crazy mind was like well he clearly doesn't love me and wants a divorce, it's over (I'm not dramatic at all) when in reality he had just gotten bombarded with customers and had phone calls to do and it just wasn't a good day for a lunch date, it didn't mean he never wanted to do a lunch date or that he didn't want to spend time with me, it was just not a good day, but our minds can twist it and take it south real quick. I remembered a Ted Talk I listened to where the speaker said something simple "what if we just chose to see the best in people, that their intentions were good and that they meant well" instead of jumping to conclusions, instead of going down the rabbit hole of anger, instead of getting all worked up. We control what we let affect us and use up our brain space and far too often we let our mind run wild and have a hay day. BUT it's hard, so FREAKING hard, to just assume someone is being nice and not making a dig, to assume their intentions are pure, especially when you have been burned before. 

So I sat and fought myself on this and these instances, and really thought "Allie what if", what if you twist this, what if you choose to not see it as negative, then it takes all the anger, hurt, time wasted AWAY. If I choose to assume that someone isn't being hurtful, malicious, or mean, then I am also choosing to not be offended, I am choosing to put my energy on positives and to close the door which allows me to be FREE and in the flip side if they were doing it out of meanness then they can brew in it, and allow that in their brain space because my friends, we deserve to be happy, we deserve to keep the focus on things that bring us joy and don't drag us down and I truly believe (and it's a mental battle) that if we choose to train our brains to  not go down the rabbit hole and just to ASSUME people at their best then the rest goes away. It's our choice, and I am striving to see that. I woke up at peace, my heart content, and my mind set on twisting these circumstances to good.

I'm asking you to ask yourself WHAT IF, to change your mind and I know you're like "NO Allie, they are being mean, they are being hurtful" and I get it because my mind told me the SAME THING, and I legit some times have to battle myself for DAYS to see the good, so just choose now to be bigger than it, to see them for good and to not let it go any further. We control what we let affect us, we control what and who we let into our space, cut it off and assume the BEST because how beautiful would it be if we just all saw GOOD, that ugly would die off a lot quicker than us feeding the beast! Happy Wednesday loves! 

Pumpkin Brownies

What if I said I had a recipe for Pumpkin Brownies that was gluten free, dairy free and sugar free? 
You would probably assume it was also taste free right? 
That's always my first hesitation with trying healthier options. 
I don't want to waste ingredients for something that tastes like cardboard.
Well friends, I promise you to never share anything that doesn't taste good. 
The boys and I will always taste test every recipe before ever passing it along to you. 
You will only need 4 things. (6 if youre a sweet tooth like me)
1/2 cup of pumpkin puree 
1/2 cup nut butter (your choice of type)
1/2 cup of mashed banana (about 1-2)
1/4 cup cocoa powder (more if you decide you want them richer)

Optional (keep reading while I explain)
1/8-1/4 cup honey
1/4 cup chocolate chips *I use Enjoy Life brand* 

Mix all those babies together with a fork or if you want a food processor. 
Now when I get to this point, I decide if I like the taste or if we need to sweeten it more to make it more palatable for me and my crew. Anytime you do a recipe, tweak it to your likes and sweeten more if necessary, because nothing is worse than food sitting left uneaten because you didn't like the taste. Recipes do not need to be followed to a tee, make them work for YOU, after all, you are the one eating it. 

At this point I wasn't in love with it so I added honey and also chocolate chips (I use Enjoy Life mini chocolate chips) so I mixed those in and sweetened it up. If you don't like the batter taste, you will not like the finished products taste, so make the batter taste the way you like. I started with 1/8 cup of honey and you could go upwards of 1/4 cup. I also added the 1/4 cup of chocolate chips. 

Plop the batter into mini cupcake pans. I love the silicon ones because everything pops out so nicely. I found these cute pumpkin ones at Target but typically I use these for everything

Bake them at 350 for 15-20 minutes, they do not have flour of eggs so their consistency is spongey, place them in the fridge until gone.


Bringing it Back

Ive been toying around with bringing this blog back and I wont lie after losing Henry and this blog being so focused on pregnancy and childbirth over the years I just couldn't find my groove with it, and also my youtubing, but here we are 30 weeks with our rainbow baby Teddy, slowly more confident in my footing of pregnancy, and I am ready to start sharing more. I am revamping the layout and updating everything so bear with me, but this will be my home for all my recipes, all my motherhood and lifestyle thoughts and just a fun place to connect again. I figured I would start with my post for all the moms out there, like me who have struggled with pregnancy loss. So here we go.

Yesterday, October 15th was such an important day and one I am so passionate about not to just support others but to offer hope as well. Today is pregnancy and infant loss awareness day, and I read back through all my years of posts on this topic from us experiencing our first loss in 2011 at 7 weeks and our most recent loss in 2016 at 19-20 weeks, my tone and outlook have varied each year. 1 in 4 women experience this loss and I’m fairly certain it’s a club none of us wanted to be in, yet our paths led us here and weirdly I can’t help but be extremely grateful that we do have eachother, to say “I’ve been there too” and “I’m here for you” because all our journeys mesh and mold together into an incredible, beautiful light that makes this journey less scary and less lonely. And I’m here walking the trail ahead of life after loss, a life that doesn’t forget or ever stop praying for my angel babies, a life that doesn’t forget those heartbreaking moments but uses them to be even MORE GRATEFUL every step of this pregnancy.

One of my favorite things (which I know sounds insane when speaking about loss) is to shine light and hope for the road ahead because this isn’t the end of your story, the end of your loving and the end of your family, I’m not quite sure where your path will lead but I know it doesn’t end here in this heartbreak and I pray heavily every step ahead for each of you. Please know that every emotion is needed and so necessary, there is no timeline of healing, there is no expiration date of when you should stop talking about it, there’s no right or wrong way to grieve, so allow it to come in waves and to work through it at your own pace, these children are a piece of us and there’s always a spot in our heart reserved for them.

I had completely shut off my mind and heart from pregnancy again, in fear of what would go wrong, in fear of a repeat happening and it was easier to just close the door of more kids. But God had bigger plans for us, a path I wouldn’t have honestly chosen to walk down, opening my heart up raw to the potential of hurt, of hearing those words “there is no heartbeat”, of delivering a baby and going home without him, I’m bold, but not bold enough to choose that path and sure enough, God decided I needed a nudge, a push towards growth, a push to open the wounds of the past and mend them up, and had I not been given this beautiful life and our son Teddy I would have spent my whole life allowing pregnancy loss to control me, to be the sole reason we didn’t have more children. I know it’s scary to consider, I know it’s terrifying going through a pregnancy after loss when our wounds are still there, but my friends it’s also a beautiful chance to rewrite our stories, to not allow them to end on a loss. Im still scared every day and pretty sure that will never leave our minds, but the more I focus on the positives and the growth the more calm I feel. I pray that your rainbow is ahead, I pray that your heart is healing day by day and I pray that you are blessed beyond measure in all the areas that you need.

Your rainbow is ahead, I just know it, open your eyes and that heart up to experience all the beauty that lies ahead my friends. I’m cheering for you every step of the way.