Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Worn Song and Thanks

It is so funny how a song can transport you back to a time in your life. Sometimes these songs take up back to a time in your life when you were happy. For example every time I hear God Bless the Broken Road I think of our wedding. Other songs may remind of us certain experiences. For example every time I hear It Won't Be Like This For Long I think of the day we drove A home from the hospital during the G20 summit in Pittsburgh. The town and the veteran's bridge were eerily quiet and I remember crying as I didn’t want that moment to end. Yet others may remind us of sad memories. For example every time I hear anything by the Dave Matthews band I think about how hurtful and vindictive I was in college. But today I want to talk about another song and provide some encouragement to my fellow moms out there.

You see here is the song:


Every time I hear this song it transports me to the winter of 2011 and 2012. We had just moved to Erie in October. I had no friends, no close family, a 2 year old, and premie twins who were supposed to be kept inside as it was RSV season. I remember feeling so hopeless. Every time I heard this song I felt it was speaking right to me. The line that says "Let me see redemption win. Let me see the struggle end" I kept thinking when the heck will this struggle end.
Christmas 2011

I remembering feeling so alone yet so blessed. I had three little girls to take care of. I had a husband who loved me and supported me every day. I always had people on me. I was always breastfeeding the twins or reading a books as A sat on my lap. I never really understood why I felt so alone.

I remember first picking up a book called "A Confident Heart". While reading this bible study I drew closer and closer to God. I realized I was alone because I wasn't drawing near to him. That he gave me this season of life to get closer to him.

Then I started to actually venture out of my house. I needed friends. I needed  a community. YOU CANNOT RAISE KIDS ALONE! I believe this in my heart of hearts. God made us moms for relationships and community. You cannot isolate yourself. You need some trusted friends in your life.

I thank people like Tina at Chik Fil A who helped A do crafts while I breast fed her sisters. I thank Mary Kay at the Children's Museum who would take one of the twins into her office to hold for a nap so I could spend some time with just A. I thank our Physical Therapist Kelly who came to my house every Friday and spoke life giving words into me. I thank Tammy at the zoo for always including the twins in A's class experience.

These ladies took time to invest in a mom they didn't know. They gave me hope that winter when I needed it most and when I felt hopeless. They showed God's love where I least expected it.

During the chorus of worn it says:

"I want to know a song can rise
From the ashes of a broken life
And all that's dead inside can be reborn
Yes all that's dead inside will be reborn
Though I'm worn
Yeah I'm worn"

And you know what by that summer I saw my life completely transformed. I saw that when I focused my eyes on God he gave me exactly what I needed him first and then a community of great women to help me in this crazy journey called motherhood. I felt like I was alive again all thanks to a few great encouragers. Thanks to those women who touched my life when I needed it most. I hope I can use their example to help others that need it today. Who needs some encouragement today? Who has a prayer request? Leave me a comment and know that I am here for you just like my friends were there for me. Have a blessed day.

Monday, January 26, 2015

Party Time Suggestions

So with both of our birthdays and the Super Bowl coming up I thought a post about parties was about due. Most of us tend to overindulge at parties. It is so easy to do as many party foods aren't the healthiest (pizza, dips, wings, cake, ice cream, the list goes on and on). It is also easy to say to ourselves it is only one day and it won't hurt anything. But we need a plan before we walk into any party. We also need to remember that we want to be smart about our choices.

My first tip for navigating a party is to pre-eat. By pre-eating you won't be hungry enough to  eat the not so good choices. You will be full and then you can make choices based on hunger level and not just emotional cues. You are also less likely to snack as you just aren't hungry.

My second tip is to offer to being something healthy. Offer the hostess to bring a vegetable or fruit tray. Offer to bring a clean dessert. By doing this you are ensuring that one thing on the table you'll be able to eat.


Next stay away from the food table. Try to enjoy conversations. Try to stay away from the food table by standing in the other room and enjoying people rather than food. Most people will stand near the food table and unconsciously eat and eat and eat. Just say no and walk away.

Know how many calories are in things. Know someone is serving Papa Johns Supreme Pizza for the main course. Go to their website and look up how many calories are in one slice. Look on apps like My Fitness Pal or Lose It to see how much that handle full of chips is going to cost you. I'm not saying you shouldn't eat anything but be smart about it. Don’t eat your entire days' worth of calories in that one sitting.


Do you really want cake? If the answer is yes maybe you skip everything else and reward yourself with a small piece of cake. Pick the one cheat you feel you cannot live without that day and don't cheat anywhere else. Eat healthy and then treat yourself with the one must have item.
Exercise. Make sure on days you overindulge you get a workout in. Don't skip the workout. You'll feel better for having worked out and you will also be working off the extra calories consumed.

Always remember that weight loss is 80 % nutrition and 20 % exercise. You can exercise for hours and hours on end but without fueling your body properly you'll never be able to lose the weight or get the Abs you want. Abs are truly made in the kitchen.

I hope these party tips help you. I'm hoping to get some healthy snack recipes up here tomorrow before the Super Bowl and the baby arrive. Hope everyone has a blessed day.

Friday, January 23, 2015

A Day I'll Never Forget

As I prepare to give birth to my last and fourth child I'm reminiscing on the birth of my first child. I'll never forget the day I found out I was pregnant. I bought the test took it and it came out positive. Daddy and I had purchased a trip to Disney for each other for our birthdays. We weren't supposed to do birthday gifts.

Every Friday night we went out for date night. Daddy chose Max and Erma's We got into the parking lot and I said would you mind opening this present for me. He was so mad at me that I got him a present. He didn't want to open it. Then finally after much coaxing he did. We were so excited.

Fast forward nine months and I was working. I remember saying to my boss that I couldn't do this anymore. That I would come into work in the morning and do what I needed to do then I do the rest of my work from home.

I was on my way home and my water broke. Off to the hospital we went. Daddy came home from work and took me to Magee.

They put me on Pitocin and labor started coming faster and faster. I remember asking for drugs at about 7 but there wasn't time as you were coming. At 8:04 you were born after very few pushes.

The thing I'll remember most is your Dad's reaction. For the first time in his life he was truly speechless. He stood there and just stared at you.

I'm excited to see your reaction when you meet baby D for the first time. I'm wondering if you will be speechless.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

21 Day Fix Extreme

I'm so excited to announce the newest program from Beachbody that is scheduled to be release on February 2nd. This program is called the 21 Day Fix Extreme. I'm so excited about this workout program. Autumn Calabrese is my favorite trainer. I love how she is motivating but isn't cloyingly sweet.

Autumn Calabrese's first Beachbody workout program was the 21 Day Fix. This was the first program I started with back in April of last year. I keep going back to it. I love T25, Piyo and the other programs I tried but I keep coming back to the 21 Day Fix because of the results I saw and how simple it is. I love that it is for anyone and the meal planning containers. I love that I don’t have to count calories or buy special food. I love that if it fits I can eat it.

I also love the simple format of the workouts. Each workout is 30 minutes. Each day you do a different workout so there is no getting bored. The workouts have enough variety each day that you don't get bored. They also have a great modifier if you are just starting out or if you are 38 weeks pregnant like I currently am! Some of the workouts use weights.

What is the 21 Day Fix Extreme?

The 21 Day Fix Extreme will not be an extension to the original 21 Day Fix. It will definitely be an entire new program. It uses the same meal planning containers from the original 21 Day Fix but the workouts are of a completely different intensity. One of the biggest differences is that the 21 Day Fix extreme allows for no treats and only CLEAN eating. IT is only 21 days and you will see results. It will allow you to get completely ripped in 21 Days. You won't be sorry you did this program. Here are the results from the test group:

Who is the 21 Day Fix Extreme for?

If you've done the 21 Day Fix or another Beachbody program than this program is for you. It is high intensity. If you are already active but have never done a Beachbody program and want to get totally ripped than this program will be for you.  It will give you a dramatic weight loss in a short amount of time if you have the dedication. You will get defined abs and get more toned.  

What is included?
In the Challenge Pack you will receive:
The seven color coded containers
25 oz Shakeology shaker cup
Shakeology in the choice of your flavor
6 high intensity 30 minute workouts
Start here trifold, featuring quickstart guide and workout calendar
21 Day Fix Extreme eating plan
Countdown to competition: Autumn's own competition nutrition plan for getting stage-ready and ripped in 21 days
A bonus workout Dirty 30 Extreme

Also if you order your 21 Day Fix Extreme workout from me you'll get The Fix Challenge workout as an added bonus.


When is the 21 Day Fix Extreme released?

The 21 Day Fix Extreme will be released on February 2nd. I'm purchasing this program so that I can preview the workouts but won't actually be completing the program until I am cleared by my doctor to work out after having the baby.

How can you Get into the 21 Day Fix Extreme Test group?

A 21 Day Fix Extreme Test Group is a private Facebook group where you get me as the coach.  It is a closed online accountability group in which everyone will submit their results to Team Beachbody for a chance to win the monthly and quarterly prizes plus you will have the opportunity to be one of the first people to complete the program and share your proof that transformation is possible if you follow the schedule, stay committed and are dedicated to your success.

A challenge group is a place where you can get support. It is a place where you can vent your frustration and get positive support. It is a place where you can discuss your failures and get a "me too." It is a place to ask questions and get them answered correctly. It is a place to share meal plans, recipes, and general clean eating strategies. A challenge group gives you the support to make the necessary changes easily and effectively.

Here is the promo video to get a feel for some of the exercises you will see in this program:

Contact me today and I'll get you started on your free teambeachbody.com account with me as your coach. Then I can add you to my team's countdown event group where you will receive product updates and then launch details. You will have until February 7th to purchase the Challenge Pack for my test group. The group itself will start February 9th. I look forward to hearing from you.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Hospital Go Bag

So yesterday I packed my hospital to go bag. Since this is my third go at this I think I have my bag down to a science. So what is in my bag?

  1. Comfy clothes to go home in

I know I need a comfy pair of clothes to go home it. I love taking a pair of yoga pants and a long sleeved shirt for the ride home. We don't have to go far from the hospital to our house so I don’t need anything fancy

  1. Clothes for the baby to go home in

This was hard for me as a lot of our stuff is pink! The rest of it was so trashed after three kids I wondered why I even kept it. I found a cute giraffe outfit and a cute ducky outfit for the baby to wear home.

  1. Cloth diaper

I love my cloth diapers. I will put the baby in one as soon as we are going home. I use prefolds and Bummi covers with Snappi closures. I will use the hospital diapers while we are there so I don’t have to worry about the wet bag etc.

  1. Nipple cream

I love breastfeeding my kids but know how hard it is on my nipples during those first few days. I will have my medulla nipple cream ready. I use it after each nursing session so that I don’t have problems down the road. If I'm proactive then I don't have a problem even after pumping for three months with the twins.

  1. Lip Balm

After giving birth my lips get really dry so I will have my lip balm with me

  1. Toiletries

I usually take a small thing of shampoo, my toothbrush, my hairbrush and my moose. I'm very simple. I don’t use a hair dryer ever. I don't need to be fancy just feel like I am clean.

  1. Book

I will be taking my tablet with me as it has my bible, my bible studies and my books on it. This way I can distract my mind during labor and can have something to do while I am nursing the baby.

  1. Music

I also have music on my tablet. This is also used during labor. I also have a play list saved on my I heart music on my phone and my ear buds.

  1. Phone

I will have my phone with me so that I can take pictures and post them. I love for everyone to see the baby. This is also fun as no one knows the babies sex. Will it be a boy or girl?

  1. Water bottle

If you know me I go nowhere without my water bottle. I drink so much water. I will also have my Shakeology packets with me so my Shakeology water bottle will come in handy when I want to have my Shakeology each morning during my hospital stay.

So there you have it. This is my top ten.

I'm getting so excited to meet Baby D! I cannot wait to see his/her face and hold her. This will be a bittersweet moment as I know that this is our last. Hope everyone has a blessed day.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Chili Recipe

A few people asked me about my chili recipe. I make a pretty basic recipe. I don't add a lot  of extras and usually use what I have in my pantry. The kids love it. They each ate two helpings yesterday. It is a great meal for a cold winter's day.

2 pounds ground beef, chicken or turkey
2 sweet peppers ( I use whatever color I have on hand. Yesterday I used a yellow and a green)
2 medium onions
6 14.5 ounces can organic diced tomatoes (Make sure they have no salt added)
2 16 ounces cans kidney beans (rinsed and drained. Again make sure they have no salt added)
2 16 ounces cans chili beans ( I used wegmans organic kind as they have no added sugar or salt. Do not rinse or drain)
5 cloves garlic
Chili powder
1 tbsp. paprika
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp Italian seasoning
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper or more if you like spicy

1. Place onions, garlic and peppers into the bottom of a large stock pot.
2. Caramelize for about 10 minutes. The onions should be translucent
3. Add the ground meat, paprika, cumin and Italian seasoning.  Cover the meat with chili powder.
4. Brown the meat while mixing with the vegetables already in the pot.
5. Depending on the meat you use you may need to drain. I didn't have to as I use extra lean ground beef.
6. Cover the meat again with chili powder
7. Add tomatoes and beans.
8. Bring to a boil.
9.  Turn down the pot to simmer and cover.
10. Simmer for at least three hours.

I sometimes serve this with whole wheat tortillas or dumplings.

For the dumplings:
 1 1/2 C whole wheat pastry flour
 1/4 t sea salt
 3/4 t baking soda
 3/4 C milk

  1. Bring chili to a boil
  2. Mix all dry ingredients
  3. Add milk and mix thoroughly
  4. Drop spoonfuls of the mixture on top of the chili
  5. Cook ten minutes covered
  6. Flip the dumplings with a spoon
  7. Cook ten minutes uncovered.

For the whole wheat tortilla recipe check out my blog post here.

If I need an extra blue container (21 Day Fix) for the day I may add cheese to this.

If you are on the 21 Day Fix eating plan one serving is 2 1/4 cups and will cover one red, one green and one yellow. If you add the tortilla or dumplings you'll be using another yellow. If you add the cheese then you use a blue.

I hope you enjoy this as much as our family did. Hope you have a blessed day.

Monday, January 19, 2015

Letter to my 16 Year Old Self

I was challenged to write a letter to my younger self. I decided to pick my 16 year old self. It was a time in my life when I was most out of control. It was a time in my life where so many decisions led me down a dark path that I never recovered from until the last five years or so. It was a time when I should have been living the dream but instead was stuck in a horrible reality.

17 year old me
 Dear 16 year old Kara

I know that sometimes you feel invisible. Your are constantly surround by people yet you don't feel truly loved. I know you'll do anything to please anyone you come in to contact with. I know you don't know any different as this is how you were taught. Quit trying to push people away. Instead start to try and make at least one friend for life. You'll look back and be sad at the opportunities you let pass by. You'll also wish that you could go back and really cultivate the friendships you did have.

I know you feel like a failure because on the outside you are constantly being told how awesome your are doing when inside you are being told you suck. You are being taught to grow up way before it is your time. You need time to be a kid. Try enjoying your time with your friends.

I know that you feel like you have to do all those activities (like dance, drill team and cheerleading) because if not you'll let your mom down. I know you hate them. Speak up and tell her you hate them. Follow what you truly want to do.  

I know that you smoke and smoke a lot. Quit now while it is easy. No one likes you because you smoke. You may think it is cool and people do but you are just pushing people away. It is a nasty habit. It is making you sick. It is hurting your lungs and causing your asthma. Quit now instead of ten years from now.

I know that you are being taught that guys suck. That they are only good for one thing and that is for kids and money. That they aren't there for a relationship. Guys aren't bad. God has a special one picked out for you. He will bring him into your life in the perfect time. This man will teach you things about yourself that you never knew. He will build you up if you submit to him like the bible tells you to. I just wish you could have waited for this special person.

I know that you have had sex before now and will continue to do so. You don't feel loved at home so you try to find love anywhere. Those "boys" don't love you.  They are only using you. They will never truly love you. Walk away! You are better than them. You have so much of a future to look forward to.

I know that during this year you will have an abortion. That it isn't what you want. That being adopted you would like to take a different path but you won't have a choice. I wish you would speak up for that choice but know you won't. I know you won't be able to talk about it. I also know you will just stuff it down with everything else you want to say. You need to process this. Find someone to talk to. Forgive now. Don't harbor all that regret and bitterness into your 30s.

Despite all these challenges life will turn out better than you'll ever imagine. This will all be God's plan for your life. These trials He will use to help so many others in the future. He will use them to be able to tell others of his goodness and faithfulness. He'll also use it to show what a transformation can be like when you believe in Him and Jesus.

You are loved. You aren't alone. You don't need to be a people pleaser. You don't need to do everything that people want you to do. Start talking now. Find someone you trust.

Your almost 35 year old self

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Letter to my Children

Today I wanted to try something different. I'm 21 days from my due date with child number 4. It is finally sinking in that we are having another child.  I'm shocked at how quickly this pregnancy went. I'm also shocked at how great I feel and look this pregnancy compared to my previous two. I wanted to write some thoughts for my kids as we expand our family from 5 to six.

A please don't ever lose your encouraging and helping. When I'm at my lowest you know how to say the right thing to pick me up. We I am so tired I feel like I cannot do another thing you are right there to help me. You may only be 5 but you have taught me so much. Watching the world through your eyes is like seeing everything new. I love how you care for your classmates and grieve when they are grieving. I also love how you always want to take them cards just to let them know you love them.

B sometimes your Diva attitude hits my last nerve but I know God has a special purpose for it. I love you talkativeness. I love the constant questions even though some of them are hard to answer. I love the running commentary of my day from the eyes of a 3 year old. I love of afternoon cuddles when you are the first to wake up from nap and no one else in the house is awake. I love your skinny little butt that doesn’t hold up any pants so you always look like a plumber

C I love your personality. I sometimes get frustrated that you only have two volumes loud and louder but love hearing your voice. I love your random hugs. I love that you just come over as I'm cooking or cleaning and kiss my tummy just to say hi to your baby brother or sister and then run away and go back to playing. I love how much you look up to your older sisters and how much you just want to play with them and love them. You are definitely the peace maker in this family.

Baby D, you are coming into a family full of lots of loves and cuddles. This family does "I'm sorry" and practices forgive and forget. We will not let anyone use us as a door mat but believe in second chances. We love God and each other. If you are a boy I feel a little bad for you as your are going to be completely hen pecked by three older sisters. If you are a girl be ready for a house full of pink and purple!

I'm excited for this next chapter of our life to start and cannot wait to see if the baby is a boy or a girl. I'm also excited to be a mom of four! Hope you all have a blessed day.