keto snickers shake recipe

I know I've shared a few times now that Ryan and I embarked on a 30-day ketogenic challenge at the beginning of January. Truthfully, it's been a hard one. We're so addicted to sugar and carbs in our daily diet that the transition was rough. Once we got into it though, we started feeling the benefits, and we don't really want to stop! We've had our "cheat" days where we indulge a little bit too much, but we've felt the effects the next few days, and we both individually said we're not sure that cheating is worth it. So, we're continuing, and I'm super excited to keep going. After one month, Ryan lost 14 lbs, and I lost 11. It's less about the weight though - and more about the fact that we both feel less dependent on sugary treats to get us through the day. That's a win, right?

A few of you asked me to share some of our favorite keto recipes, and I'm going to caveat this by saying I'm not a food photographer. In fact, I'm pretty much awful at it. That said, I wanted to try and share some of our easiest, simplest, and most transitional little foods for those just dipping their toes in the keto waters. Now, if you're wondering what exactly the ketogenic diet is, it's a diet that embraces high fat, low carb (HFLC) eating. That means we eliminated the pastas, sugary drinks, crackers, chips, etc. In their place, we have whole fat cheeses, olives, plain nuts, lots of eggs, and so on. 

It's been a transition, for sure, but certain foods have made it easier - like this "snickers" shake. This shake is designed to be a meal replacement, which I was initially opposed to. I don't really like drinking my meals, per se, but this was just enough of a treat to keep me full and less hangry, too. Plus, with a few tweaks here and there, we absolutely love it, and we're keeping it as a staple in our home!

Here's what you'll need:

1 cup of unsweetened almond milk
1/4 cup of heavy cream
1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 1/3 scoops of vanilla protein powder
1 tbsp natural peanut butter
1 tsp truvia or stevia
1 cup of ice

Add all your ingredients to a good blender (we have this one here), and blend until nice and creamy. We usually blend a full 45 seconds for a thick, frothy, shake-like texture.

Nutritional information:
calories: 510, fat: 39 grams, protein: 31 grams, carbs: 12 grams

letter board (here) // protein (here)

A couple notes about the protein we use...We recently switched to Sports Research Bone Broth Protein with Collagen, and we use the vanilla flavor. You can use any protein you like in this shake, but remember that the goal is to minimize how much sugar is in your diet. We like this one because it's both keto and paleo-friendly, and we like the rich vanilla flavor. It does take some getting used to, and you'll need to grow accustomed to the bone-brothy color, but I promise it doesn't taste like soup ;)

The beautiful thing about this diet is that you can mix and match until you find the right products that work for you. We don't really think of it as a diet. It's just transforming how we eat and pick the right foods. For those who've asked - no, we are not putting our kiddos on a keto diet. We are, however, cutting out most of the processed goodies they're used to, and we're replacing them with healthier alternatives.

Have you ever tried any keto recipes?

winter at oneida lake

Ryan and I were talking this weekend about how quickly our time at Fort Drum is winding down. Come June, we'll be onto our next adventure in Washington at Fort Lewis. While we're here though, we're doing our best to find a balance between getting all the things done and seeing all the people we love while we still have time. Recently, our next door neighbors, Jo Ann and Mike, moved from their home here in Black River to their newly-built home at Oneida Lake. We've visited there before in the summer when it was just their camp house, but since they left, we haven't had the time to really see them - or their new house. 

Jo Ann invited us to spend the weekend with them, and we readily agreed. Spencer and Porter know them as Nana and Papa Mike, and they're basically our second parents so we couldn't pass up the opportunity to spend time with some of our favorite people around. We packed up the car Saturday morning, and we drove the one and a half hours to spend a chilly (but not too chilly) weekend at the lake. 

We spent most of Saturday playing inside since it was drizzly, but the boys had a blast seeing the lake frozen over and watching the ice fishermen out doing their work. After an early night since the boys decided to boycott naptime, Ryan and I played cards and enjoyed some quality time with Jo Ann and Mike. PSA - if you're looking for a simple and fun card game, invest in Play Nine. We had a blast! It's like golf and gambling all in one. Sold!

Snowsuit - Target (similar here) // Hat & Gloves - Target (similar here)

On Sunday, we planned to head back to Black River around lunch, so we spent the morning enjoying the slightly warmer weather (read: 50ish degrees), and we went for a little walk on the lake. The sun was just barely melting that top layer of ice, but the ice was frozen nearly a foot down, so we chanced it - and it was totally worth it. The boys thought it was the funniest thing to slip and fall, and though Spence managed to dunk his mittens, we all played hard.

It was a good weekend. I know the relaxing weekends here are numbered as our PCS gets closer and closer, so we're soaking it up while we can. I'm grateful for the time and experiences we've had here, despite how we feel about Fort Drum, and weekends like this remind me how very blessed we are. We have a fantastic family that spans this country, and we're so grateful that the military has afforded us these opportunities.

I'm linking up today with B Loved Boston for Weekending.

friday favs: the end of january

winter vibes - photo courtesy of kindred hearts photography // scarf - riley grace boutique (similar here)

First and foremost, thank you all for your sweet words and congratulations regarding our move to Fort Lewis! We're so excited for this new adventure, and we're even more excited that things are going to move quickly now. We're already starting to really look at housing, toying with the idea of renting on post until jobs open up for me out there (yes, I'm still employed), etc. It's an exciting time! Even with my knee surgery looming over us (no, we don't have a date yet), we're thrilled to have a timeframe for our next big adventure. 

But, onto the good stuff! It's the final Friday in January, and I couldn't be happier. Is it just me, or did this month drag? I think it's in part because it's been so dang cold, but I'm ready for February. I'm linking up today with Smidge of This for 5 on Friday and Meet at the Barre for Friday Favorites.

1 // 30 Days of ketogenic eating! I honestly can't believe we did this. Okay, I'm a bit premature here, as we still have a few days to go, but we're rocking it. No, I haven't loved the whole thing. Yes, I'm excited to continue. For the most part, both of us are feeling great. Ryan's lost something like 14 lbs, and I'm sitting right at about 10 lbs, which is impressive because I always gain around that special time of the month. Regardless, I think we're going to push on, and I'll be detailing some of our favorite recipes since some were requested!

2 // Spending time with my volunteer ladies. I had the pleasure of going to the 10th CAB Volunteer Night at the Le Ray mansion on Tuesday evening with some of the most wonderful women I've ever known. Even though I haven't really enjoyed being FRG leader for Ryan's unit (for the most part), I've enjoyed getting to know these women, and I'm so grateful for the experience. Dressing up for a night of speakeasy fun was just the icing on the cake. Please note the bionic flapper look. It's in style.

flapper dress - Vijiv (available here) // flapper headband - babeyond (available here)

3 // Potty training victories. Mom friends, you'll feel me on this one. We've been actively potty training Spencer for a while now, and he's been really great! He's been daytime potty trained for a few months, but we had one big hurdle to go - doing number two at daycare. He's had this mental roadblock for a while now that he can only do the deed at home. The other day though, his teacher messaged me that it was happening! Spencer finally felt comfortable enough to poo at school! What a huge thing this has been, and I'm so proud of my boy for conquering that fear. We officially have a daytime potty trained three-year-old!

4 // Our home. I can't believe we've lived in our first home for more than three years. We were brand new parents embarking on our first cross-country PCS with a brand new baby, and we did it. We bought this house. It's been a great blessing and a great first home. I'm ready to move, and the house is nearly too small for us now, but I'd be lying if I said I wasn't going to miss it here a bit. And, weirdly enough, the thought of someone else living in our home is slightly terrifying! Before all that though, we have some big changes that have to be done. Cue alllllll the contractors.

5 // Knee-safe cardio. Since running the Chicago marathon, I've been antsy to get back out there and run again - for real. However, my knee isn't making that possible anytime soon, so I've been doing my best to be patient and adapt some exercises in the meantime. I finally got back to the gym yesterday after sulking for a couple weeks, and I got a great upper-body workout in, and I'm doing my best to work in some knee-safe cardio. Straight-leg rowing is a new favorite, as are ab routines using my brace as a counter-balance. Does anyone have any other tips? Would love some more!

Happy weekend, all! I hope you have some amazing plans ahead of you.

the moores are moving

It's official, friends! We have orders as of yesterday. As with everything in the Army, things can always change, but we are absolutely thrilled to know where we're going - and when!

In the spirit of honesty, my first reaction was not a happy one. It was a dreary day yesterday in northern NY, complete with rain, gray skies, and wind. Ryan texted me around 10 AM and asked, "how do you feel about this weather and rain today?" I had a gut feeling. I texted him back and said, "like we got Lewis, and we'll have it all the time." He called me and told me I was right, and I was initially really bummed. I'd had my heart set on the sunshine in the South. Within an hour though, I'd come around, and I was so excited.

We're going to be so close to both Tacoma and Seattle! The amenities on post at Lewis are insane. And, though we're planning to rent off post, I know we're going to have a fabulous time there. Right now, he's set to report mid-July. However, he's slated for training en-route, so the timeline is probably closer to June. That means we need to hustle around here and get our booties in gear!

Next stop for the Moores... Fort Lewis, Washington!

Do I have any bloggy friends out there in that area? I've visited before and loved it, but I'd sure love to hear all your own personal experiences! 

slush puddles & all the cuddles

We've been on the run since we got back from South Africa last month, and with the impending move getting closer and closer, we're trying to dial it back a notch. Mind you, we're still going out and doing things, but we're also making sure we spend time at home tackling things that need to be cleaning out our cars so they can both be detailed. I know. What an exciting adventure. That being said, we did manage to make time for some fun this weekend, too. 

Kids' Rocking Donkey - Target (here) // Abomoniable Snowman Jammies - Carters (here)

On Saturday morning, Ryan and I took the boys to our local Feed the Vets mission in Watertown. On the third Saturday of every month, they open the pantry and invite local veterans from all branches to pick up all the food they may need. We've been looking for a great service opportunity, and we want the boys to start learning about giving unto others, so we decided to go. The boys were mostly clueless, but they behaved so well, and they charmed a lot of the older veterans. It was nice to see their faces light up seeing the antics of youth. We can't wait to go again (hopefully) next month.

On Sunday, Porter was still battling a nasty cough and seemed a little under the weather. However, the forecast was calling for 40s and sun - basically a winter thaw here in NNY - so we decided to get them out for some fresh air. We loaded everyone up and took Danny to the dog park, where all my kiddos (dog included) had the time of their lives. They got a little wet and chilly, so we didn't stay too long, but after hibernating for so long, it was so nice to get outside.

We should have orders the first week in February (eek!), which makes things a little more real. Our new windows are being installed next month, and we have a laundry list of to-dos that need to be done before listing our house for rent. And, on Friday, we learned of another little wrench in the plan.

I know I mentioned my knee was injured before, but I didn't really elaborate on what happened. So, right after we got back from South Africa while we were in New Hampshire, I slipped in dog pee. I know. Dog pee. My mom's sweet pitbull rescue who's still learning housetraining peed at the bottom of the stairs. When I stepped down, I slipped and because of the torsion, I dislocated my patella. It's happened before - probably about 20 times throughout my life. This time though, I decided to have an MRI because I just haven't been able to bounce back like before.

I expected a torn meniscus. I might have even expected an MPFL repair to tighten the ligament. I did not, however, expect something really intensive. I was informed on Friday that I'll need a Tibial Tubercle Osteotomy. Basically, my patellar tendon is attached to the outside of my knee, rather than on top of it, holding it in place. And, because of how stretched my MCL is from doing it so many times before, nothing is really holding my knee in place. They'll go in, cut a piece of bone and replace the tendon to the correct positioning. It's a long recovery. I'll have 6 weeks non-weightbearing, then I'll start PT, and they expect I'll finally be able to put assisted weight on it within about 3 months. Full recovery is estimated in 6 months - just in time to PCS.

My brother-in-law's sister is an orthopedic surgeon, so we're sending my films for a second consult - just in case. However, we're crossing our fingers and just hoping we can get this done ASAP so I can get back on my feet...both literally and figuratively. 

I'm linking up today with B Loved Boston for Weekending.

our keto diet must-haves

I've mentioned it a before, but Ryan and I are doing a ketogenic diet challenge this month and next. I know. 60 days. What were we thinking? But seriously, for two serial dieters, it's been a really cool process to redefine fats, healthy eating, and really consuming things intentionally. I'm a foodie, and Ryan's a glutton (sorry, honey, you know it's true), so this has been a long time coming. Today. I want to round up five things that are really helping us transform and stick to the process. We're 19 days in, and I'm down 10 lbs, and Ryan's down 14, so something's working! I'm linking up today with Smidge of This for 5 on Friday and Meet at the Barre for Friday Favorites.

1 // Emulsified MCT Oil. Okay, so we've mentioned that part of the diet involves bulletproof coffee, which basically entails cutting out all sugary creamers, all the delicious syrups, and so on. For this basic white girl, that was terrifying. I fully acknowledge that I love me some overpriced, sugar-filled Starbucks drinks, so I didn't think this would work for me. For bulletproof coffee though, we use butter, coconut or MCT oil, and cinnamon to make a frothy, delicious treat. I, personally, like this emulsified MCT oil from Onnit. We use the flavored one - creamy vanilla right now - and it's delicious. It's a far cry from Starbucks, but it tastes good, and it definitely kicks it up a notch.

2 // Babybel Cheeses. So, the entire premise of keto is high fat, low carbs. It goes a little deeper than that, of course, but basically, our easy go-to snack foods are out. Gone are the chips and crackers. Enter cheeses, salmon, lunch meats, etc. Like any good Dutch girl, I love cheese. Like, a lot. Babybel cheeses are the perfect addition to our lunch foods. And, though keto frowns upon snacking, when you absolutely must reach for something, these are our go-to.

3 // Dash Rapid Egg Cooker. I can't for the life of me remember who recommended this, but it was a fellow blogger, and I am so glad I listened! Each morning, we have a medium-boiled egg, and this little beauty takes the hassle out of cooking eggs. You fill up the provided measuring cup to your desired cook, you pierce the bottom of the egg, and you let it do its work. 5-10 minutes later, you have a perfectly cooked egg waiting for you. It really doesn't get any easier.

4 // Kerrygold. One of the hardest things about keto for me has been transforming my mindset when it comes to fats. You know how it is. We've been told for years that fats are the enemy. In keto, fats are king. Since our bodies are so reliant on carbs, our bodies produce glucose and insulin, then burn those for fuel. When it does that, our body stores the fat. With keto, we lower our intake of carbs and induce a state of ketosis. This is where our bodies product ketones, and our bodies burn fats for fuel instead. We're not starving ourselves of calories. We're removing carbs from the equation. We've started using real, quality butter in our diet, and Kerrygold is our go-to. It's cleaner, grass-fed, and tastes delicious.

5 // The Internet. No, I'm not kidding. One of our biggest allies in this keto diet journey has been the internet. We use some fantastic sites like Ruled Me to find great keto recipes, tips, information, and more to keep us going. Some of the recipes included in our challenge have been downright awful. Truly. This site gives us great recipes, breakdowns of nutrients by portion, and offers that variety we crave. Honestly, there's a ton of information out there, so that's been super helpful.

So, there you have it. This is what's getting us going on our keto journey. For the most part, we're loving it. We've found some healthier alternatives to our vices, and we're seeing results, which we love. I feel like I should note that we aren't making our kids do keto. We're not that crazy. We have, however, cut out a lot of their excess processed foods like sweet gummies, etc., and that seems to be going well, as a whole.

These are all my own personal recommendations. Nothing in this post is sponsored.

why parenting shouldn't be easy

photo courtesy and copyright of kindred hearts photography

My husband said something that really struck a chord with me while we were at Niagara Falls last weekend.  We'd had a hard few hours, the boys were tired and cold, and we were super hangry. In that moment of weakness, he captured me. He said, "You know, you have some  really great days as parents, but it's never really easy." How true are those words, you guys? I love my little men more than life itself, and we have some of the most fantastic times together.'s never easy.

Here's the thing: I don't think it should be.

We're raising tiny little humans. These little humans are going to grow up (nope, in denial) one day to be big humans. We're going to send them off into to the world to be big, functioning members of society who do things. They're going to have an impact on the world. Maybe that's not a huge, global impact, but they're going to influence the world around them.

What part of raising these tiny, someday-functioning humans should ever be easy?

Easy implies simplicity. Easy means that we never put the effort into correcting bad behavior, or investing time in teaching them manners. It means we let them run amuck - beyond reason, that is - and never taught them that the world is so much bigger than just them. It means that we failed to parent, which is our role in this season. We are shaping the future every single day that we talk, interact, and encourage our little people.

I liken it to a job sometimes, albeit a job that I love. 

If I apply half-ass effort to my job, I'll see half-ass results. In the same way, if I give half-ass attention, love, discipline, and worth to my children, they'll lack the determination, will, and perseverance to really succeed in life. It's my job to build these little people up every single day. Together, we learn new things, we explore the world around us, we exercise our manners, and we show people that we're growing, both as individuals and as a family.

And, as we foster our children's individuality, we start to take a back seat. They start to shine. Their personalities blossom, and they start to make an impact in their tiny corner of the world. Even now, when I drop Spencer off at daycare each day, I watch how he goes to interact with his friends. He shows his toys, is learning to share, and he exudes excitement and love for everything around him. That is why it's not easy.

Parenting is work. It's also the best kind of work, especially when you have more than one child. Moms of multiples, I salute you. I don't know how you do it, but you're doing it, and you're rocking it.

So, if it's hard today, or you feel like you really didn't accomplish anything, know that you did. If it's hard, know that you're doing something right.

Know that it's worth it.

a quick trip to niagara falls

As our time here at Fort Drum dwindles, we're working hard to balance seeing things we want to see before we leave and getting things done around the house. Since Ryan had a 4-day this past weekend, we decided it was the perfect time to jump over the border to Niagara Falls, Canada. I've been before, but not since I was about 12 years old. This time, it's the dead of winter, and all my boys were experiencing the falls for the first time.

We bought a deal on Groupon a couple weeks ago that included one night's accommodations at the Clifton Victoria Inn at the Falls, several dining options, and four passes to the Fallsview Indoor Waterpark. I mean, come on. Is there a better way to pass a frigid winter day than to take your kiddos to an indoor waterpark?! 

We left at about 11 AM on Sunday after a relatively quiet morning. The drive takes just under four hours, so we knew the boys would nap in the car, and we'd arrive just before dinnertime. We checked into our hotel, and then we decided to make our way down to the falls, just in time for the temperature to start dipping below 10 degrees. The temperature was less of the issue - it was windy! 

Spence just wasn't having it, so we ducked in for dinner at the Rainforest Cafe on our way down towards the falls. It was only about a 10-minute walk from the hotel, but tiny little men being cold takes precedent! The boys loved the Rainforest Cafe! They loved the stars on the ceiling, watching the gorillas come to life, and seeing the elephants flap their ears in the back of the restaurant. It was definitely on the pricier side (hello, tourist trap!), but it was worth every penny. 

After dinner, we went down to the falls in time to see them beautifully lit up, and though we only stayed a few minutes, I made Ryan promise we could go back the next morning. He came through on his promise, but only I got out of the car this time! Here's why...

As we drove in, our already cold car started being hit by the mist of the falls, which immediately froze on contact. The car was a sheet of ice. We pulled over, heated the car further, turned the wipers on full-speed, and we decided that I'd be the only one to get out this time. It would've been way too much for the boys. So, we drove up, pulled over, and I jumped out.

It was one of the coolest (coldest) and most incredible views and experiences of my life! The water was misting me the whole time, freezing on my jacket, jeans, boots, and skin on contact. The frozen falls were incredible. There was something so serene and beautiful, but also so wild about seeing them like this. I took as many pictures as possible before jumping back in the car and stripping off my jacket, which melted quickly.

Was it cold? Yes. Worth it? Heck yes.

After that, we went to the waterpark, which was amazing. The boys are too little for most of the slides, but they were perfectly content playing in the little tot's area, the smaller slides, and the wave pool. Porter has zero fear, and Spencer just wanted to play forever, so we indulged them (and ourselves), working up a healthy appetite before heading home.

Trips like this are so fun. They're hard with the little ones, but I wouldn't trade it for the world. Both boys are becoming so good at traveling. They settle into their seats, ask for popcorn, and watch a show, both of them napping when needed, too. We don't have too many weekends left for trips like this, so we'll take it!

Have you ever been to Niagara Falls?

my must-do list for 2018

photo courtesy of kindred hearts photography

I'm no stranger to resolutions. I've posted them many times on the blog here before. This year though, I don't feel like resolutions are the way to go for yours truly. This year is bound to be one of movement...constant movement. Even right now, we're in a dreadful holding pattern. From looking for another job (thank you so much for all your sweet words on my last post) to waiting on orders from the Army, it's insane. Plus, add in the fact that I'm waiting until next Thursday to get some answers on how to proceed with my knee, and that's just the icing on the cake.

It would be easy to give up and just muddle my way through, but seeing all your beautiful resolutions and intentions has inspired me. Rather than big, loft goals though, I made a little list of must-do intentions to better my daily life and, in turn, positively affect my outlook on the year as a whole. 

1 // Set time aside each night to read. I was so bad at this in 2017. Seriously. I love reading, and about 40% of our Army household goods weight comes from my book collection (I'm actually not lying). I've gotten lazy about turning off my devices and taking time to read though. Bloggers like Steph and Kelly are inspiring me to get back at it though, and I'm excited to pick up new titles and really start reading again.

2 // Take advantage of snail mail. I don't know about you, but I just love hand-written letters. There's something so personal about it in a day of modern technology. I was inspired by our New Year's cards with Minted, and I'm actually going to order my own stationary set to keep myself at this. Do any of you love snail mail as much as me?!

3 // Work out consistently - and less frantically. I don't know if you've been able to tell, but I'm an all-in kinda girl. When I started training for my marathon, I was literally all in. But it's daunting, and it creates injuries. With the uncertainty of my knee right now, and my inability to run, it's forced me to take a little step back. I want to work out, train the right muscles, take the time to get strong and only then dive back into something.

4 // Hold fast to healthy eating. Ryan and I are serial dieters. Seriously. It's the worst. But we started a keto challenge on the 1st, along with a diet bet, and we're actually doing really well. I think we've finally turned a corner, my body's no longer addicted to the sugar that it was, and I feel, dare I say...good? I want to stick with this though and make it a lifestyle vs. a little blip on the radar. And, in the same breath, I want to add these healthy elements to my kids' diets, too, cutting the processed foods (not entirely, don't worry) to help them grow big and strong.

5 // Give myself some space. I have a habit of going full-throttle all the time. I find myself burned out very easily, and I apologize to people constantly - whether I need to or not. First, I want to take a step back, prioritize, and really find the things I love doing and committing my time to. Next, I want to stop apologizing for anything and everything. It's my go-to, and I have nothing to apologize for. I have to advocate for myself this year, and I'm going to really work at it.

I feel like those are five very attainable goals and must-do things this year! I think we have a habit (or, at least I do) of setting the bar too high for myself. I'm impressed by how many people set really good, personal, and deep resolutions, and I really hope this helps me stay focused, healthier, and less stressed.

What do you think? Do you do resolutions, or do you prefer a list of intentions like these?

know your worth

photo credit and copyright to kindred hearts photography 

It's been an interested few days here in the Moore household. On Monday, I found out from the company I've been with for five years that I was passed over for a significant promotion. The role I was vying for didn't exist, and I've pushed towards it for the past two years. My boss informed me on Monday that the role was, indeed, created. However, it's being given to a girl three years my junior in the company. Meaning, I trained her when she entered the business.

Now, here's the thing. I'm actually happy for the girl. Truly, I am. She works hard, and she deserves recognition. What bugs me is that the role was created without mentioning it to the rest of us in the same position, so we never had a chance to get it. It was underhanded, sneaky, and behind-the-back. Honestly, it leaves me with my confidence shaken.

I've been trying to find a new job for a while now. I've been searching, but I've also been somewhat complacent, knowing I have a job in the interim, however frustrating it might be. I'm now actively searching though, and it's a scary thought to be eight years into my career path and suddenly searching to start all over somewhere new.

Add in the fact that I'm an Army wife and require fully remote opportunities, and it's especially daunting.

I've been sulking and feeling sorry for myself the last couple days. Coupled by the hanger of our current keto challenge, this has been more unbearable than it really has to be. I have options. I do. It may take a while, but I trust that I'll find something better. But here's the thing. When someone does something that shakes your belief in yourself, it leaves a little mark, and it's uncomfortable. I was doing some reading last night, and one thing really stood out to me.

You are not defined by someone else's opinion of you.

Just because the door closed for growth within a company to which I've remained loyal for the past five years, doesn't mean I won't find a better option. I've been dedicating a lot of time and energy to freelance work lately to boost my portfolio. I have had successful reviews from these freelance clients, and it leads me to believe and trust that I can, and I will do more.

So, rather than sitting on my butt and feeling sorry for myself another day, I'm turning this ship around. Rather than focusing on what the company has done to me, I'm working towards better options. Instead of dedicating extra time and energy to the company that won't promote me, I'm dedicating that time to finding a company that will. I'll get my frustration out in the gym. I'll get stuff done around the house, and I'll lean on my loving family for support.

Note to self - I'm going to make you so damn proud.

south africa: rietvlei dam & krugersdorp

While we were in South Africa in December visiting family, we tried to squeeze as much in as possible. Because we were limited by my aunt's health, we stayed close to our home base in Pretoria, and we didn't venture to the Cape this time (next time!). Luckily, there's still a lot to do around Pretoria and Johannesburg, and my boys still got to see a lot of animals and explore the amazing nature that South Africa has to offer!

Because it's currently summer in South Africa, it was bloody freaking hot. I mean, bear in mind that we're coming from northern NY, but it was 95 on Christmas, and it was in the 90's both days we decided to head to Rietvlei Dam & Nature Reserve and Krugersdorp. Both places offer amazing opportunities to see the natural wildlife though, so we just had to do it.

Rietvlei is a self-guided drive-through nature reserve featuring some of the Big 5 including cheetahs, rhinos, and hippos, as well as plenty of springbok and other wildlife. I was the only one in the car who managed to spot the cheetah lounging just off the driving path in the shade, but we saw zebras, buffalo, wildebeest, and more. The boys had a blast checking out the ostriches, and we dined at the local camphouse, which was delicious, and the boys charmed all the other visitors with their rendition of the Hot Dog Dance for almost 30 minutes. Yes, it was as hilarious as it sounds.

Krugersdorp is home to a couple nature reserves, but we chose to head to the Lion & Safari Park. If the boys had been a little older, we would have gone to Kruger Park to drive through, but because it's malaria season, and because the boys can't sit still for too long (or stay quiet), we opted for a guided tour this time. They do self-guided drives, as well, but we chose to do the guided safari since my uncle was driving his Porsche, and yes, the animals roam free. Silly man! There are lions, giraffes, kudu, zebras, wild dogs, and more there.

Both trips were a lot of fun. Porter slept through much of the lion tour, but we managed to see a feeding, and I got to pet a lion cub, which was a blast. I was impressed how respectful the game wardens were of the animals. Though most are hand-raised, they're still wild, and the wardens were extremely protective of the animals' predatory nature, as well as their space. A woman brought her toddler to pet the cubs, and she kept pulling the cub's tail. They removed her and told her - yes, they look sweet, but they're still lions. They also kept the visits to a 10-minute period, and gave them 10 minutes between visitors. As an animal-lover, I found that refreshing.

If you're ever in South Africa with little kids, these are both great options! Normal safaris are great, and I've done one before, but they're tricky with younger children, as they require silence and patience. I don't know about yours, but those aren't my children's forte. 

I'm linking up today with B Loved Boston for Weekending - I hope you all had fantastic weekends and are ready for a great new week!

5 on friday: new year's favorites

It's the first Friday of 2018 - how crazy is that?! I don't know about your corners of the world, but it's downright frigid here in northern NY. The high today is -5, and I'm sorry, but that's just mean. I would love to take my children outside for a walk or to play in the snow, but it's too cold for that! Instead, Ryan and I have been scouring for activities for the boys to do inside, especially on weekends. I try to remain positive that the cold can't last forever, and I'm focusing on five good things today instead of the bitter freaking cold! I'm linking up today with Smidge of This for 5 on Friday and Meet at the Barre for Friday Favorites.

1 // Bulletproof Coffee is life. I mentioned the other day that Ryan and I are doing a 60-day ketogenic coffee, and it calls for a big ol' mug of bulletproof coffee most mornings. Now, I love a good morning cup, but I've been known to rely too heavily on sugary creamers and sweeteners. This coffee is loaded with good oils, healthy fats...and no sugar. Shockingly, it's delicious! If you want me to detail my recipe on the blog, let me know. It actually keeps me full for hours!

2 // Smart Wool socks - These suckers are saving my life lately because of the bitter cold here in Black River. I'm a fan of big cushy socks like these beauties from Old Navy, but even they can't keep out the cold lately. Smart Wool has been my go-to to keep my toes toasty and warm, especially since our old home is feeling awfully drafty these days.

3 // Bloom Daily Planner - I debated which planner to get for a long time, but I went with this one because it's versatile, and I got an amazing deal here. With all the freelance work I've been doing, my job, FRG, and getting our house renter-ready, life is insanely hectic. I love that this planner gives me room to post goals and my 2018 vision, as well as track those daily tasks. Plus, they're so chic!

4 // The Simply Keto cookbook is fast-becoming a favorite here for me. As we navigate the waters of this new diet, it offers awesome recipes and some insight into how we'll never feel deprived doing a ketogenic way of life. For those who didn't know, keto is basically a very low carb, high fat lifestyle, in which your body is put into a state of ketosis to burn fat for energy. We've both noticed a huge difference in the past week, and I've literally cut my coffee consumption by about 90%! How cool is that?

5 // Our fourth wedding anniversary was yesterday, and I'm so grateful to be married to this man. Through the deployments, the TDYs, the cross-country moves, navigating parenthood, homeownership, and beyond, he's been my rock through it all. Each and every adventure is more fun because of him. Gosh, I'm a lucky woman!

OH - before I forget, the sweet Andrea from Living on Cloud 9 shared a great Spread the Love gift exchange with us that I had to sign up for today. If you'd like to check it out, visit The Blended Blog here to do so.

Happy weekend, sweet friends!

four years

Dear Ryan,

Today marks four years since we said "I do" in our tiny little winter wedding in New Hampshire. So much has changed since then. And yet, so much remains the same, too. I still get those butterflies when I look at you in the morning. We still laugh at the most inappropriate things, and your dad jokes continue to impress me. I still love how much you challenge me to be the best version of myself, and how you advocate for me every single time. How in the world did I get to be so lucky?

In four years, we've accomplished so much. We made a home in Arizona for less than a year. We welcomed our first little boy, and we moved across the country to New York as a family. We bought our first house together, and we settled in for a while. You deployed to Kuwait and Iraq, and we weathered our first deployment. Together, we ran our first half marathons (and then I ran a marathon!) We welcomed our second little boy into our family, and we adopted a dog. Through it all, you've been my rock.

This past year was challenging while you were overseas, but one thing kept me going. You. Every single day, you wake up and put on that uniform, even when you don't want to. You work hard and support our family, and my dreams, every day. I want you to know that my vows to you remain the same as they were then.

I will always support you, love you, and honor you. Thank you for making me the luckiest woman in the world, Ryan. Here's to an eternity more!


the bosveld & zebula, south africa

After we arrived in South Africa on Saturday morning, we spent a day and a half resting in Pretoria with my aunt, uncle, and cousins. After that, we headed out to the Bosveld to relax and revive at our house in Zebula, South Africa. Not sure what the Bosveld is? Easy answer - the bush. That's where you see your wild animals, although Zebula is a golf estate and nature reserve, so no dangerous animals roam freely there. 

We knew the boys would love to see all the zebras and giraffes, plus the house is really off the grid in terms of wireless, cellular, etc. It's beautifully done with a classic braai and fire pit, as well as a small infinity pool, a huge open-air deck and verandah and four bedrooms with ensuite bathrooms. Basically, it's like a resort in the Bosveld. Sold.

My sweet South African family told me the pool was cold. It wasn't cold per se, but it certainly wasn't warm either. Rather than busting out the swimsuits for the boys, they opted to skinnydip because, why not? When in Rome...or South Africa. Ryan and I put our suits on and hopped in with the boys, watching the impressive rain clouds roll in. And yes, South Africa does get rain, and we were in the middle of a very rainy start to summer, which offered impressive thunderstorms and great clouds (and rainbows!)

We only stayed two days there, but we wished we could have stayed longer. The boys swam everywhere they could. When the wind was a bit too chilly for our own pool, we headed to the clubhouse for slightly warmer water temps. Spencer was in heaven because we purchased his first set of water wings, and now he feels like a fish. As a swammer, myself, I know this is a double-edged sword, but I think it will help him feel more comfortable in the water, which is ultimately the goal.

Ryan was finally able to turn off his phone and just set it away for three whole weeks. Despite the horrific spiders (omg, seriously South Africa, no), we enjoyed a couple nights with a great cuppa, or a sip or ten of wine under the stars. Plus, is there anything better than a warm cup of coffee on the verandah as you watch the sun come up? I think not.

I also managed to get a run in while we were there. It was just about 5k, but I ran into some giraffes while we were there! Giraffes are notoriously shy animals, and they steer clear of loud noises. Naturally, that means they avoid toddler noise. Because I was running alone though, I encountered them on one of the back roads of the estate, and then I waited until they were comfortable enough to walk away from me. No, they're not aggressive, but you don't want to make them scared around their little ones - and there are a lot of little ones right now!

Honestly, it was the perfect start to our trip, and we wish we could have stayed longer! It was quiet, calm, and the boys could run amuck all they wanted. Yes, that's the absolute perfect combination of all the things. Next time we go, I think we'll insist upon a week there before anything else.

We have a lot more to share about our trip in the coming days including Cedar Junction, Krugersdorp, and more. I hope you're not all burned off my travel stories by the time I'm done!