Date day #2!

We were supposed to be in court this past and most of my life has a little crazy. I failed at the updating talking about my two books that I have read thus far this week.

But, in the middle of this craziness, we had a day off and Josh and I decided to go out for our second dinner out. Well, we went out for our second lunch out at Cold River Cafe and Restaurant.

It was amazing. If you’re ever going along the trail or in Charlemont, let me seriously tell you to please consider this amazing restaurant.

I personally had the Reuben sandwich with french fries and mac and cheese.

First, the mac and cheese was the most amazing macaroni and cheese I’ve had in years. It was absolutely to die for. I could have eaten a plate of that alone and been happy.

Then the Reuben. Oh my goodness. That was heaped with meat.

My husband had the steak and cheese and it looked amazing. I tried one of his onion rings and it was so obviously not an onion ring out of the freezer- they were super great,

The people who served us were wonderful and a blast. The waiter joked along with us and was a great time

I would recommend this place, 10/10! Our next date night will hopefully be happening soon, an at home date night! Stay tuned for my date night box Joshua will be getting very soon!

Be Blessed,

Lauren Jane

Warm Spinach Salad.

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I have to share this recipe! It was so good, absolutely delicious….and not that unhealthy! Also, simple and ready in less time than it looks like it should be!

Time: 10 minutes.

Ingredients: 

 2 slices of bacon

3 cloves of garlic

1 1/2 cups of mushrooms

3 cups of spianch

a splash or olive oil

pepper and salt to tast.

How to cook:

1. Cut the bacon into pieces and begin to cook it in a frying pan.

2. As the bacon cooks, cut the mushrooms into slices and slice the garlic up.

3. Once the bacon is crispy, add the mushrooms and garlic to the bacon and the bacon fat that has begun to form. Allow this to cook down until the garlic is soft enough for your personal preference. I like my garlic still a little hard, others I know like it almost soft.

4. Add in the spinach and a dash of salt/pepper and olive oil. Wilt to your liking

5. Serve of enjoy!!

The entire pan should be about 200-250 calories dependent upon how much olive oil you use. You could very easily eat the entire pan as a meal, but if you are choosing to have it as a side, this should serve 2-4 people. We finished the pan, however I ate at least half of it!

I hope you guys try this recipe! It was delicious! 

Be blessed,

Lauren Jane

ten minutes. It appears to take a lot more effort than wha tit actually isQ

Praising my husband.

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I was recently “accused” of me that I spend all my social media accounts presenting that my husband and I have a wonderful marriage. It was brought to my attention that it seemed as though I faked the perfection in our relationship.

Let me make one thing clear-I don’t believe Josh and I have the perfect relationship. I’m pretty sure it’s very far from being perfect-trust me I’m there for all the arguments! But my husband is a wonderful man, loving, caring and sweet. There’s a large list of things he does that make our relationship work better, but there’s four things that he does that make me love him a little more each day.

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1. He’s a wonderful father to my children.

When we started dating, I was under the impression my husband never wanted kids. By “under the impression” I mean “he said explicitly he never wanted to have children.” It was something that would make or break a relationship for me; anyone who knows me knows my entire life I’ve wanted kids.

It as crazy how quickly “I never want kids” went to “Let’s have babies together!”

What made it even better than him wanting kid was seeing how great he was at being a father. The first time he met my baby brother to the first time I saw him hold James, I knew how amazing of a daddy I married. From playing on the floor, tossing the kids around to watching him hug the princess as she’s having a bad day; I married a good daddy. And by being a good daddy, I know that no matter what happens between the two of us-whatever we be fighting over-my husband will always be a great father.

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2. He tells me(and shows) how much he appreciates me.

I know this isn’t a need for every person, but my love language is “Words of Affirmation.” (To find out your Love Language, check out the quiz on this site!) I need constant reassurance that I am good, I am worthy and I am loved. My husband is not high for “Words of Affirmation.” He has to fight to remember to tell me I’m beautiful daily.

He truly does fight to remember to do just that. He gives me flowers, surprises me with phone calls and little love letters. And most importantly, even when I feel he’s lacking in this area(because he does! It’s not something that comes to him naturally. His family even is one of little words.) He works to remember and always hears me out when I tell him I need more.

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(How pretty is my engagement ring?)

3. He just lets me talk.

I’ll be the first to admit it; I never shut up. Anyone who knows me knows I analyze things-then re-analyze….then re-analyze again. I do most of this analyzing outloud.

My poor husband gets the brunt of it.

He gets my ranting about foster care, he gets the late night “Do you think God wears pants” he is the only person who has to deal with angry me. I’m slow to anger but I am also slow to forgive(I’m working on it, I swear.) and therefore my husband has dealt with my angry ranting about the same thing for months. Ask him. He’s still hearing about last June.

But he never tells me to stop?!

Despite not allowing him a word in edgewise, he usually just lets me go. Obviously you should not belittle or aim all your anger at your significant other, and it’s something I try not to do, because it’s so easy to be angry with the one person I know would never hurt me, but he makes everything I say feel valuable and worth listening to-even when what I’m saying is completely useless to the conversation.

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4. He’s learned how to deal with my kind of crazy.

Josh married me knowing some days my mind attacked my thoughts. He watched me for a year before even being a prospect to me and therefore I was brutally honest. He knew about my panic attacks, my anxiety, all of it. He knew the symptoms before they had a real name and I could begin to work on them.

While my kind of crazy is not as prevalent any longer, there are still days people touching me feels like cotton balls on my skin(y’all, I hate cotton balls.) and there are still some instances where I have to call 30 times to make sure he’s at work safe.

He doesn’t love me “in spite” of all this-he loves even those parts of me. He’s looked into PTSD, he’s read articles about how to love a person through a panic attack. He has educated himself on the parts that I thought I would have to hide from anyone in hopes they would love me. I don’t think even he realizes how much I appreciate this

Needless to say, my husband does a lot of things right. I choose to praise him(and probably not often enough!)because he is an amazing husband and an amazing man!

Be blessed,

Lauren Jane

Date night 1/24

My husband and I have five children. We love those kids, more than anything else in the world, but we also love each other. We made a deal to attempt to do at least two date nights a month this year. This is something we obviously hope to continue, but for this year-we want to renew that spark.

I’ve spent days pinteresting and found some pretty awesome stay at home date nights(if you’re looking for an idea, this is a great one for after the kids are in bed!)-but at the end of the day, I am a sucker for a dinner out. No cooking? The chance of a drink? No kids? I’m in!

We got to do our first this weekend! My grandmother watched three of the kids while the older lady spent the night at my parents and Josh and I got to go out to dinner!

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We made it over to North Adams and decided to head down to The Hub. For those who aren’t familiar with the area, The Hub is a casual sit down place, with delicious drinks and a shocking Louisiana feel to it-the menu says that the chef lived down in the bayou for years and I would believe it! It’s an old favorite of mine and a newer one for my husband. This time round we tried two new things,

wings

We started off with Maple Sriracha wings. The Hub has wings to die for and this new recipe is nothing less than spectacular. If you like maple and you like Sriracha? You will love these. They weren’t that spicy, either.

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I had the Mass sMoca yesterday, a new to me meal. It had shredded chicken, gouda cheese, bacon and caramelized onions with a garlic mayo on it. I will be ordering this again. Just be forewarned, if you are not a spicy person, this one may not be your cup of tea. I loved it, but it definitely had a little edge to it!

However, if you hang out in North Adams, I would really urge you to go to The Hub for a date night! The place is a blast, the waitresses are amazing(we have had every one who works there, I swear!) and the food is top notch. Also-if you’re anything like me? The drinks are the best!

Sadly, our date night was cut early for a Patriots game(go Pats?) But I am excited to tell you all how the next 23 of our date nights go! Maybe I can even get Joshua to come on here and give a mans opinion on a few!

Be Blessed,

Lauren Jane

I cut off over half my hair-and I never felt prettier.

About two months back I decided that this is it. It was time to do the thing I brought up every few months, something I had talked about for years.

I was about to cut my hair.

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My hair had been long my entire life, or at least my entire life post high school. I spent hours styling, straightening, and caring for it. Hours upon hours brushing hair. It’s think and curly. If I didn’t brush it twice a day, it would dread in the back. I begged my husband to brush it on the daily, because my arms would get too tired.

I hated it.

I also loved it more than anything and it was becoming a serious source of pride…and not the good time. I very rarely would ..go into public and not have someone comment on how great it was. It took time, effort and way too much of my life was consumed by making it work.

But man, did cutting it off scare me. I love(d) my hair more than any other physical aspect. My entire body was taken over for nine months(closer to ten, thank you JC) and my hair was the only part of me I could control and feel comfortable with that entire time. I enjoy being in control-call me crazy, call me a perfectionist, call me shallow-being in control rocks. And in my line of living, there’s not much within my control. I have a state agency tell me how long I can love my kids for, I have lawyers and social workers tell me how well I’m doing that. I have a husband who is in charge of everything legal and financial…essentially all I get is what my kids eat(sometimes.) and how I look. And taking that leap to a different hair cut, well that scared me. I wouldn’t have control of my hair; the best part of me was being put into someone else’s hands.

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Then one day I looked in the mirror and said to my husband, “Joshua. I am cutting it ALL off.”

He laughed-he had heard that before. An hour later though, I had an appointment set up, dinner ready to go when I left….and an Ativan for when the hair was finally being cut. With a slight reminder no to do a pixie cut, I was off.

I went into the salon and told my hair stylist(Mary’s Hair Studioe in Shelbourne Falls-they are the best!) I wanted a huge change. She talked it over with me some and we decided on a cut that was Taylor Swifty, with no bangs and all the natural curls.

And voila, suddenly my hair alone did not weigh six pounds!

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I was terrified I would leave there and hate it-or worse wake up and regret it. Thankfully I’m 2 months out and I still love it. My husband(call me old fashion but his opinion matters a lot to me!) loves it too. Sometimes I miss the long hair, the ability to just throw it back and not think about it…but I definitely recommend that big change it you’re ever thinking about it. I’m growing it back out again, but I can’t say in three years I won’t be back at Mary’s, getting it all chopped again! For now I’m going to enjoy the lightness of my head and the simplicity of straightening my hair in under three hours!

Anyway, this is mainly to encourage you if you’re thinking about it-do it! It’s just hair and let’s be honest, if I can get up the courage? You can too!

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Be Blessed,

Lauren Jane

(PS. I hope you enjoyed so many photos of my face!)

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Our week has been a little crazy, think meeting after meeting. We have had at least three social workers out here recently, we’ve had colds and the illnesses, and to top it all off-I’ve been babysitting a 4 year old to help keep some bio families together. That means my post for lifestyle was put off and you’re going to get one right after another with my book review~that comes tomorrow!

Anywho, we spent Sunday, as always, hanging out with my Mema and Papa, the usual way. We always go to church, then head out to their home. I decided today however to throw on a soup and we would have dinner together as well.

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I’m sort of the queen of soups. I love to make soups; I add everything but the kitchen sink into them. This soup was superbly easy though, for all you working or busy moms out there, it took about 20 minutes of prep and a bunch of hours of cooking(we cooked ours about eight hours!)

What you will need:

-8 full sized carrots

-2 stalks of celery(I use the leaves too!)

-Box of frozen peas

-box of frozen corn(I used some homegrown stuff so I’m unsure how big a box!)

-4 boneless chicken breasts

-4 cups of chicken stock

-Egg noodles(I used half a bag!)

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(These aren’t the right veggies, but it fit!)

What to do:

– Take out your slow cooker and pour all the chicken stock in. Add 8 more cups of water.

-Cut the carrots(I leave on the skins, NUTRIENTS!), celery, and chicken. Put into the liquid.

-Add in the frozen vegetables.

-Add spices as needed. I made a mixture that was pepper, salt, turmeric, garlic powder, onion powder, thyme,  and rosemary leaves. It was scrumptious.

-Stir it all together and allow it to cook for about 8 hours on high.

-In the last ten minutes, add in the egg noodles and serve!

I made enough to feed three ravenous children and four adults! More importantly I was able to spend all day doing other things, while making a pretty healthy homemade meal. We still have some leftovers which I will be partaking in tonight once again!

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We had a delicious few days! I also made a stuffed chicken breast with bacon brussel sprouts this week. My chef skills are multiplying-something I am sure my husband is thankful for. Tonight is a lousy cooking night though-think popcorn chicken and rice out of a box!

Tomorrow you will be seeing my review on the novel “Becoming Me” by Stasi Eldregde and then I haven’t decided how to do the one after that-I plan on rereading The Harry Potter series. I may use that to write not as much a review but use it to talk about how Harry Potter has shaped my life-and if the six year old can sit through the first novel, how she enjoys it!

Be Blessed!

Lauren Jane

Teething Misery

We were blessed with this lovely baby, who never cried. I hate to brag, but our first nine months of life we had a child that cried when he was hungry or when he was super tired.

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Never an angry boy. He can get held in weird angles, forced to sit in one place for a photo op…nothing.

Until now. Until the misery of illness and teething both came to life.

To begin, I should let you all know, we began 2015 sick. Every single one of us-sick. Do you know what it’s like to have a house of seven people, everyone sniffling and sneezing? I’ll let you know-it’s not fun.

Somewhere in the middle of pink eye and sore throats and headaches, the baby fell ill as well. He also decided this year was a fine time to let the top two teeth poke through.

Yes, his little gummy smile becoming toothy is adorable. Yes, he’s adorable and lovely.

But any mama who tells you they love the teething stage is either lying or doesn’t remember the teething stage.

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We came up with a few pieces of advice for you lovely followers who have yet to meet the horribly, no good, very bad tooth bearer! Hopefully these will help you before you spend a few nights awake, being drooled on.

1. Roll ups! We made them out of banana baby food and whole wheat bread. All you do is spread a little of the baby food on one side of the bread then roll it up. Put it in the microwave for about 15 seconds then let it cool! It should cool harder and be something they can chew on. (Please only do this after your child is old enough to eat grains!)

2. Rub their toes. If you’re like me you fell in love with your babys feet. The toes are a pressure point to help mouth and tooth pain. Whether he’s just feeling tickled or it’s actually working-James LOVES it! It’s an extra plus if you put a little diluted lavender oil on them

3. Ice, This one you have to watch very closely, however chewing on ice is a favorite in my house hold. If the actual ice scares you a little too much, wet a dishtowel and freeze that!

4. Apples! James has grown to love eating whole apples, they’re the perfect shape and they allow him to chew on something.

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5. Lots of loving. If your kiddo is like mine, I was just getting used to having a moment off because he was becoming more independent. Teething took every moment of peeing alone and sleep away. Take breaks as you need them mamas. But extra loving will so help those little loves.

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(This is before major teething started, I know because he looks semi happy…)

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(Much more realistic…)

Anyway, ladies and gents, 2015 has been a rough start for us, but also a wonderfully beautiful one! I am excited to see where this year takes us and how many teethies I may be able to count at the beginning of 2016! I hope these teething words of wisdom are nuggets that can help you along your journey! What do other mamas and dads prefer?

Be blessed,

Lauren Jane

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(See we’ve had a few pretty moments this year!)

A day in the life!

I wrote this today hoping to capture a day on our way to church, with my grandparents, the whole shebang. Sadly, like every day with a handful of children, things did not go as I planned. But here is a day in the life!

4:07am- Wake up with one miserable baby! I don’t know what was going on with him this morning, but he would not go back top bed for me. I finally got him to let me roll over and get a little more sleep…thank you to my amazing husband!

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Thanks for that husband.

745am: Time to wake up! I can hear the littles moving around so I better get going or else our home will be destroyed! It was a long night though(Can you say nine month sleep regression? I could, but now I’m about to fall asleep every time I do.) so here I go for my first cup of coffee!

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8am: You know I can’t get anything done before I feed the monsters. They are all sick, however, which means there’s no need to rush-we have no church today. I get them each a fruit; cuties and an apple for the baby. I set him up in his seat and move on to get my own breakfast-I like to spoil myself for the morning meal and have a breakfast burrito almost every single morning!

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9am: The kids continue to eat, there’s usually a fight before ten am. This fine day it was because one hated Cuties…you know the same cuties she eats for snack nearly everyday? OH well, I say. You eat what you get I say. Then I cave and promise if they finish their cuties, they can have chocolate milk. That works.

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10ish: It’s time to clean! When you have five kids, everyday is cleaning day. There is no way to avoid it. Today, I worked on laundry and dishes and picking up the rest of the Christmas presents we had yet to take care of. I usually do a sink of dishes three or four times a day, no rest for the wicked. My older ones help out a LOT, the younger ones try but shockingly a nine month old is not that much help when it comes to housework, but with a sickness in the home, I had most of them napping or relaxing for all of today!

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11am: I start some delicious soup that I’m throwing together for dinner. It has the works: carrots, celery, hot sausage, sweet sausage, pasta, etc. I make it in the slow cooker, which by the way mamas(and daddies!) is a Godsend for busy parents.

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I mean, still about 11am, but doesn’t this look AMAZING?

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12am: begin to feed the childrens and as they eat, nurse the littlest bum to sleep! It’s wonderful to have a semblance of a schedule and while the past week has done most of ours in, we’ve come back out with our usual nap times and praise Jesus for that one.

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1ish: Oh, Lord, here’s some me time. As the baby sleeps and the other three play(read watch a movie because they all had temps and didn’t feel well today!) I enjoy taking some me time and relaxing with my favorite things: reading, blogging, coffee and some psych stuff! Oh and I guess a little gaming. I’m really the opposite of a “gamer” but I love me some Left 4 Dead!

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2ish-5ish: I run around a lot. The baby is usually awake in this interval, there are kids everywhere. Most the time, one or another has a snack, there’s a lot of tears because I tell someone NO and always someone who wants something they can’t have. Today it was mainly a baby boy who wanted to be held all the time, but we couldn’t manage that

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5ish: My amazing husband comes home! I get to have a kiss and hug and the children all get to run to him and receive love, all while pretending like I was some evil witch gate keeper that day. Without fail one of them complains about something I do wrong and another tells Josh how much they missed him. The woes of being a stay at home mom? Probably!

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6pm: Dinner begins and what is dinner time without one kid hating it? Tonights went over for the most part with a bang though-sweet and hot sausage soup is a winner guys! The only one who complained was me; next time I better drain out the grease. The husband however, loved it a lot! I may put the recipe up someday, it was so easy but so delicious.

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After dinner, we relax. Since it’s a Sunday, my husband put on a football game. I don’t even know who was playing: just kidding, I know Greenbay was because my friend Mindi kept posting about it! The kids headed up to bed between 8 and 9. This is by far my easiest time, I relax and get to watch television…and write this up! Josh will take a shower and I will follow up. Tonight we also looked at cheap “fixer upper” houses that we would never manage to buy and fix up but it’s one of those things we love to laugh about. We cuddle, or Josh cuddles the baby while I type this up. I sometimes manage to do the dishes, tonight I finished folding laundry and switched the load my 18 year old put in!

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I also never did get out of my pajamas today! Tomorrow we have a foster parent review meeting, so I looked up some info and then I have therapy and the oldest has a doctors appointment-so it will be another busy but beloved day.

This is pretty much what my every day looks like. Cleaning, cooking, a little bit of me time, and a whole lot of love. It’s so nice to have a life that has my hands full but my heart fuller. A full heart is the best thing a girl could ask for!

Til next time y’all.

Be blessed,

Lauren Jane

Grateful, Thankful, Hopeful

2014 In a Nutshell: A year of gratefulness.

In February, my father went into the hospital for what they believed was a migraine. A couple brain surgeries later and he’s doing amazing now. There’s still work, but it was the year of being grateful for miracles, that’s for sure.

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The second miracle was a beautiful baby boy, born to us March 21st at 2:04am! James is entering the new year a nine month old boy, walking and eating all kinds of solid foods-we did make it nine months(and counting!) of nursing

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My amazing, wonderful eighteen year old foster son graduated high school. So very proud of him and how hard he worked to get there!

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We had two additions throughout our year, one for an overnight and another for about three months. They are both in our hearts forever, even if they may not be in our home forever.

It’s been a really good year for us. Even the worst times have been plagued with kindness and generousity from others; at our worst, when we were terrified for my fathers life, people came out of the woodwork to cook my siblings food and help baby sit and stay with my mother as she drove back and forth between their home and the hospital. If I ever begin to doubt humanity and kindness, this is the year I will look back on to remind me how amazing and kind people can be.

Goals for 2015!

-Take an hour a day off of everything and spend it in prayer/reading the Bible. This was a goal for November, but my time was severely taken up while we had an extra placement. I need to get back on that though!

-Get into blogging. I got a laptop for Christmas(thanks to my bearded babe!) and this lifestyle blog is going to come to life! I even started a calendar to write down what I should be blogging about and what days I will be making those posts. So be ready for more lively updates, my darling friends.

-Cut out the negative influences in my life and add in more positive ones. Read more, expand on my hobbies and education, allow myself peace, cut those who take said peace from me out of my life, find my nook in this little town.

-Redecorate the house

-Become more self sufficient with a working garden and hopefully(everyone, go and pressure the babe!) our own chickens and eggs!

2015 is going to be a wonderful year as well, I’m pretty sure.

Hopefully by the end of it, if all goes as planned, we will have finalized guardianship and adoption, we will be living healthier and cleaner, and I will be pregnant with our second bio baby! Those are just generalized aims, none that I can really gaurantee, but things I would love to have accomplished by the time 2016 comes along.

I hope you all have a safe, healthy and happy end of this year. I pray you each find more peace, happiness and love in the next year-amounts that far surpass what you’ve experienced before! Remember, each year is only as good as you make it!

Be Blessed,

LaurenJane

Why hello all!

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Long time, no write!

But first, Happy Christmas day! Praise Jesus for the wonderful gift given to us, born a virgin and died for my sins.

For Christmas this year, my wonderful husband got me some jewelry, a tooth brush….and a laptop! I’m so excited to begin regularly posting again; it’s been hard since we no longer have a computer upstairs. But now! I’m ready!

I have a lovely little calendar to follow and everything!

Christmas blessings from my family to yours! and I am so ready to begin the new year