Our BIG, FAT FAMILY Keeps Getting BIGGER and FATTER!!!

Apparently babies come in TWOs around here.  And that's perfectly fine with me.   Today I am SUPER EXCITED to announce that our BIG, FAT FAMILY will be adding another baby in 2015!!!

                                                "Baby R" will be arriving in early March!

Just three months after Lila Kate gets here, "Baby R" will arrive, making the total "Grand" count go up to FIVE!  We, of course, are praying for a healthy pregnancy and baby.  But I'm not gonna lie...Poppi and Beckett have their fingers crossed for a boy this time.  Beckett wants a cousin to play ball with.  OH...you want to know who the proud parents are?  RYAN and ALLISON!  Congrats to them.  Our entire family feels blessed beyond measure to be able to welcome a new member to the family.
                                                                Sweetest sound ever.

                                        Before we even meet you, we love you, "Baby R"...

A 4th Birthday Swimming Party!

This past week was one of those weeks that well...let's say it wasn't one of my better ones.  I had this throat/allergy/asthma thing going on for a while and I finally decided to bite the bullet and go see my allergist.  After being informed that my body needed to rest in order to get better and given a prescription for an antibiotic, I was on my way.  Oh, not to simply rest but to get ready for Parker Ann's Birthday Swimming Party that was to be held at our house Saturday.

I had errands to run, purchasing cards and presents for my mother and me.  We had groceries to buy since all of the kids, with the exception of Caitlin, would be here for the entire weekend.  And I had to make sure all of the towels were clean.  Believe me when I tell you this BIG, FAT FAMILY can use up every towel in the house!

So Saturday came and as I was sitting in my bed having that first cup of morning coffee, first Beckett joined me and then I heard Parker's little feet bouncing across the wooden floor boards.  Naturally, I turned my television set from the HGTV Channel to Nick Jr. and then I reminded Parker that it was her "Birthday Party Day"!  Immediately I saw the sparkle in her eyes and a smile spread across her face.  And then she looked at me and told me I needed to change clothes.  Huh?  She said, "YaYa, I don't think my friends would like to see you in your gown."  Oh...gotcha! (He-He!)

The party did not begin until 3 p.m. that day and it was the perfect day for a swimming party...HOT!  If you have never experienced the heat of August in Louisiana...don't!  But the kids were ready for swimming, while the parents took turns retreating to the cool air conditioning of the pool house.  All in all, the party was a great success and we had a wonderful (but not very restful...) weekend.
                                      "How much longer before my friends get here, YaYa"
                                 "The Little Mermaid"...Perfect theme for a swimming party.

                                Beckett was not about to miss out on all the swimming fun.
                      Favorite gift?  This cute little Koala Bear that Aunt CaCa sent her!

                    And when everyone left on Sunday I sat in my chair...and fell asleep.
                             My sweet first little "Grand"...Happy 4th Birthday, Parker Ann!


Paleo Cooking: Easy and Delicious (Recipes Included)

When I talk about eating Paleo, I try to emphasize how easy it has been for me to adapt.  First, I already did not eat most wheat products so that wasn't too difficult.  And then there was the issue of the elimination of dairy products.  I don't drink milk and the only real dairy product I love is cheese.  And I will miss cheese.  And when I go to Paris next year I will definitely eat some brie.  Oh, I may have a "Lactose Intolerance Moment" like Meg Ryan did in the movie "French Kiss" but I shall eat cheese on that once in a lifetime trip.  OK, so back to the simplicity of Paleo cooking.  Paleo cooking is not only easy but really pretty delicious.  And Paleo recipes?  They can literally be found everywhere.  There are, however, just a few things you need to make sure you have on hand to make these delicious dishes and then you are ready to begin.

Here are some of the items you need to grab on your next trip to the grocery store:
*Olive oil
*Coconut oil
*Coconut milk
*Almond milk
*Almond flour
*Tapioca flour
*Maple Syrup

This is a pretty good start to make some of the dishes that I have tried and think that you might enjoy as well.  Now, the only proteins I eat are chicken and fish.  If you eat other meats, then your meal possibilities are even greater than mine. As I mentioned before, I purchased a Paleo cookbook written by two bloggers.  I chose this cookbook because while thumbing through it the recipes looked simple and the photographs beautiful.  And then as I looked closer, I was really impressed with all of the great information this book provided.  It gave lists of items to eat and not to eat.  Foods to stock up on for Paleo cooking and even recipes for making your own condiments and milks.

                                                  You can find this cookbook on Amazon
Co-author is Juli Bauer who write the blog PaleOMG.  Click on the link to learn more about Juli and get some GREAT recipes.
George is the other co-author who is the "creative genius behind the wildly popular food blog" Civilized Caveman Cooking Creations.  Check it out too to get LOTS of Paleo recipes.

I previously shared their Bacon Pecan Cabbage Recipe and today I want to share another delicious recipes from their cookbook.

*Coconut oil for greasing the wire rack
*2 pounds chicken wings
*1 tsp. course sea salt
*1 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
*1 tsp. granulated garlic
*1 cup of your favorite hot sauce

1.  Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.  Line a rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil, place a wire rack
     on top and grease the wire rack with coconut oil.
2.  Arrange the chicken wings on the rack and season with salt, pepper and granulated garlic.  Place
     in the oven and bake for 15 minutes.
3.  After 15 mins. remove the wings and place in a large bowl.  Pour the hot sauce on them, tossing
     to make sure they are evenly coated.
4.  Place the wings back on the wire rack and place in the oven.  The recipe says to keep them in
     there for an additional 15 mins. but I think I left mine in there a little longer.  Use a thermometer
     to make sure they are done!
                          These Hot Wings were as good as any I have had out at restaurants!

And for those of you who have a sweet tooth here is a quick fix I found on Pinterest:

*1 slightly under-ripened banana
*1 Tablespoon honey
*Olive oil or coconut oil

Lightly drizzle some oil in a skillet over heat.  Slice the banana and place in the heated oil.  Cook on each side for a couple of minutes.  Whisk the honey and 1 T. water together.  Remove the pan from the heat and pour honey mixture over the bananas and then sprinkle with cinnamon.  This tastes sort of like Bananas Foster! 
                                                 Click HERE to see original Pinterest post.

       I hope you will try these recipes and see how fun, easy and delicious Paleo cooking can be! 

                                                       Remember to EAT GOOD FOOD!
                                                                 HAPPY WEEKEND!


She Taught Me How To Be A YaYa

How can it be possible that my first little grandchild, Parker Ann started Pre-K4 last week?  It seems like only yesterday I was sitting around, chomping at the bit waiting for her to be born.  This first little grandchild entered our family and stole the hearts of every single one of us.  I spent lots of time with Parker when Sarah eventually went back to work part time and so we bonded in a way I will forever cherish.  Wherever I went, Parker went.  We have gone grocery shopping together, taken Mam-Maw to doctor's appointments, visited the zoo, restaurants around town, the list is endless.  This little girl taught me how to be a YaYa.

Oh, I knew how to be a mother, having had four children of my own, but being a YaYa is something totally different altogether.  Things shifted somewhere and the rules were definitely not the same.  As a mother, I knew I had a huge responsibility raising my kids.  I had to provide structure and discipline for them and I realized very quickly that we may not be friends while I was raising them but one day that would come.  With a grandchild, it is different.

I had always heard people talk about how being a grandparent was different but never really understood it until I became one myself.  This job is not filled with the same responsibilities that come with the the job of parenting.  I am the fun person, the friend, the one who gets up in the tree house with picnic lunches for two, spends hours playing mermaids in the swimming pool and doesn't mind when finger painting if the paint gets all over both of us.  Yes, this job of being a YaYa is definitely an easier one than being a parent. 

I knew this day would come, however, I never realized it was so close around the corner.  While we were playing and having fun something happened:  Parker Ann grew up enough to be able to attend school.  All day long.  With a lunchbox, backpack and nap mat.  Oh no...school.  This fact made me happy and sad at the same time.  Happy because I know she is so ready to meet new friends and learn new things but sad because those lazy days of early childhood have slipped away in the wind.  Oh, we will still have weekends and holidays and, of course, the entire summer.  But this is a change and one I know so well. 

But Parker Ann will still be my "little" girl no matter where she is in life and I will forever keep all of these wonderful memories we have made together in a very special place inside my memory to take out and smile at as she continues to grow up and I grow older.  She taught me how to be a YaYa.  With that first smile, snuggle, kiss and coo.  She had me.  I will never be the same.

      Thank you, Parker Ann for giving me one of the BEST jobs on the face of the earth!
                                             Thank you for teaching me how to be a YaYa.


Eat GOOD Food: Eat MORE, Not Less

"Eat MORE, Not Less".  Whenever Karol said those words to me I must admit it made me a little shaky and weak-kneed and downright scared!  Growing up in the era that I did, the philosophy had always been "If you want to weigh less then you have to eat less."  Oh, I had heard all of the sayings about "If you don't put fuel in a car it won't run" but surely that didn't apply to me.

Well, here is what I have learned:  If you are eating GOOD food and working out, then you might need to eat a little more to get your metabolism revved up.  This also scared me a bit because suffering from hypothyroidism is no joke; it is a real metabolism killer if you don't get it under control.  It seems that we have to do more to get the same results as others.  But, hey...I was willing to give it a try if the experts thought it would work.

Like I said, I had been eating "good food" for quite some time but I was limiting my intake while attempting to work out daily.  Karol explained that this simply would not work.  She asked what I ate after a workout.  Hmmm...I thought the idea of working out was to burn calories; why would I want to just turn around and put them back into my body?  I answered, "Maybe a piece of fruit occasionally."  She shook her head and said, "Protein Before Fruit" and eat that protein within 30 minutes of finishing your workout.  OK, so what kind of protein could I grab right after a workout?  She said, "A boiled egg."  That was easy enough.  So I tweaked that in my daily routine.

Other things I tweaked in my daily routine included to stop eating peanut butter with my apple slices and instead eat almond butter.  I found a really good one I like that is all natural....

Another thing I did was to look at the label on my Mio Liquid Water Enhancer.  When Karol saw that I was using this, she asked me if it had sugar in it.  "Of course not", I said.  She told me to go home and look at the ingredients on the bottle because "Sometimes the label will say '0 grams' but you'll see sugar in the ingredient list.  They're allowed to round down on labels.  Well, she was right, the Mio had to go!  Check out THIS LINK to see all of the different terms for sugar.

The other thing I did on my own before starting to work with Karol at Genesis Experience Alexandria
included purchasing a good Paleo cookbook (which I will discuss more in detail later in the week).  The one I chose was, The Paleo Kitchen.  This book has some pretty awesome recipes and while you might still be in the "thinking" stage of trying this program, I will give you one to try so you can see how delicious and easy the recipes are to prepare.


Saute' 6  slices of diced bacon over medium heat.
Take the bacon out and add 2 cloves of minced garlic.
Thinly slice 1/2 head of green cabbage and 1/2 head of purple cabbage.
Add the cabbage to the bacon grease and garlic and sprinkle with coarse sea salt and pepper.
Stir and allow to reduce down.
While the cabbage mixture is simmering, take 1/2 cup of pecan halves and toast them in a skillet.
When the cabbage mixture is done, add your bacon and pecans in.
This is a wonderful, savory side dish that goes well with chicken or pork dishes.

S0,  here's what's on the schedule for today:
Take a Hot Yoga Class
Work out at Genesis Experience with Karol...and
                                                         EAT MORE GOOD FOOD!!!

Dreaming of Paris...

I will be "Dreaming of Paris" until we take our trip there next year.  And for many years after that I'm sure.  I am still dreaming of Italy and hope to go back there one day.

Our trip to Paris (and France) will be with several couples and we will fly to Paris to explore the city for a few days,  followed by a River Boat Cruise.  Of course, we are beyond excited and all preparing in our own little ways for this trip; some more than others.  I have taken a photography course that will be helpful in capturing all of the beautiful sites there that will keep me "Dreaming of Paris" (and France) for many years to come.  The other thing I have done is to start re-studying my French using Rosetta Stone.

Many years ago, I took a French course in college.  Although it would seem more feasible to take Spanish here in the U.S., I still opted for French.  We live in Louisiana where French is spoken freely in many circles.  Oh, some is the "French of Paris" and other is the "Creole French of Louisiana".  Anyway, I decided to take the class in hopes of gaining enough knowledge that if I one day visited Paris I could at least communicate a bit with the people there.  Well, here I am 30-something years later getting to finally fulfill that dream and I'm once again sitting in front of a screen attempting to brush up on those language skills...
                                                       Not too bad for a beginning, huh?
Right now, however, I could only talk about boys, girls, men and women who walk, run and swim.  Drink water, milk and eat bread.  Have cats, dogs, horse and fish.  Oh well, I suppose that's a start!

                                    And here is my "Dreaming of Paris" photo of the week...
                                                     The "Love Lock" Bridge in Paris
                                                            PHOTO CREDIT

                                         Oh, yes...I DO intend to visit this bridge on my trip!

                                                                   AU REVOIR!!!

My Favorite Things: The Scent of LEMONS

I'm not sure what first attracted me to the scent of lemons.  Their freshness, the fact that my maiden name was Lemmons or even maybe memories of those commercials featuring Mr. Clean.  Whatever the reason, the fact is I am simply obsessed with the fragrance of lemons!  And today I want to feature a few of my "Favorite" lemons products.

I suppose the first lemon products I fell in love with were the Verbena L'OCCITANE Products.  When I first discovered this store several years ago and popped in, I took a sniff of this spray and instantly knew it would soon become one of my favorites...
The fresh scent grew on me so quickly that I had to also purchase more of their lemony scented products...
                                                            Verbena Body Lotion
                                                              Verbena Body Salt Scrub
                                                           L'OCCITANE Deodorants

Nothing makes me feel more relaxed and refreshed after a long day than pouring some bath gel into the tub and sinking into some fresh lemony bubbles.  Followed by drying off and spraying myself with the Eau de toilette and slathering on the body lotion.  Over time this has become my "official scent".  I didn't really realize that until my daughter moved 1200 miles away and one of the first things she purchased to ease her feelings of homesickness was some lemon spray (Click HERE to read post). 

So nowadays I am always on the search for new lemon scented products that will live up to my standards of "worthy of purchasing".  I must admit that I am a bit of a "Lemon Snob" and will not purchase just any old item that has the word lemon on the label.  That's why I was so excited to FINALLY find some other products recently that I just can't live without!  One is the Meyer Deep Cleansing Soap...
I try to keep this soap by my kitchen sink at all times.  It is a great product that smells wonderful AND you can get 5 soaps (all Lemon scented if you prefer) for only $18 at Bath & Body Works!!

After tucking my "New Favorite Hand Soap" into my shopping bag, I continued to browse the shelves and came upon Bath & Body Work's Sparkling Limoncello Luxury Hand Lotion...
I actually kept 2 bottles of this on hand during the summer months because I not only like to put it on my hands but also use it after swimming and sunbathing on my entire body.  It contains Olive Oil extract that simply takes moisturizing one's skin to another level.
                                                                   (Photo Credit)
     And Yes...I hope to one day soon have a lovely lemon tree growing in my very own back yard.
                                                    Ahhh...The Scent of Lemons.