Fathers Day and My Birthday!

Cecelia is so advanced she is already reading on her own.  My mom gave Sam, Steve, and Joe these precious books called “Thank you God for Daddy” for Father’s day.  I love watching these men become Father’s!  Dominic, Malayna, and Cecelia are all so blessed to have such supportive, caring, hard-working, dedicated men to look up to!

Everyone told me before having Malayna that watching your spouse with your child makes you love and adore them even more.  I couldn’t agree more.  One thing I appreciate about Sam is how hands on he is with Malayna (his brothers are like that too!)  He will change diapers, give her baths, clean her up after having messy solids, and take her places without complaining.  He makes her laugh more than anyone and has such a gentle, sweet, disposition toward her.  I could not imagine a more perfect father for Maymay and I am so grateful for all he has done the past 6.5 months.  Being sick over the weekend showed me yet again how great he is with her.  Happy Fathers Day Sam.  Sorry I didn’t make it more special for you this year, and that I don’t encourage you enough in all that you do for our family.

I was born on Father’s Day, and this year my birthday fell on Father’s Day again which happened to be Sam’s first official fathers day  ! Sadly, I was really sick all weekend, however I still managed to have fun and was spoiled by my family!

Saturday we had a birthday party for Jules, Kathy, and I and celebrated the wonderful Father’s in our lives!

Grandpa and Grandma Odom came up for a visit and Malayna enjoyed having them here!

On my birthday, I was still not feeling well. However, Sam still managed to treat me to Chipotle and my family cheered me up- always the best medicine.

This family belong on the cover of a magazine!

I am very grateful for my dad.  One of my favorite things about my dad is how proud he always is in us.  Growing up he was always encouraging us in anything and everything we did!  I always felt supported and deeply cared for by my dad.  He is very hardworking, selfless, passionate man!

I love watching him as a grandfather.  Malayna is extremely calm near my dad.  She is turning into quite the wiggle worm, but when my Dad holds her she is just still and content.  I remember in her newborn days she would just lay on his chest, perfectly content.

My mom always did such a great job of making our birthdays super special.  We always got to do some fun activity which for my summer birthday often involved going to the pool, baseball game, or shopping!  We always got to pick our favorite meal.  Any guesses on what mine was?  Kind of funny looking back now, but they were tacos.  My favorite dessert was yellow cake with my moms amazing chocolate frosting.  We can not forget too that my dad would, without fail, always bring home a balloon for us.  I really hope to carry on this tradition with Malayna.  Birthdays only happen once a year and I always want her to feel celebrated and loved!

She got me this BEAUTIFUL bracelet that has an “M” charm on it! I have been wanting a piece of jewelry to remember Malayna by, and was so thrilled to get this!  I got some really awesome kitchen gadgets too that  you will see shortly on the blog!  Lets just say “tinnnny” ice cream sandwiches are coming! 🙂

She still spoils us and made amazing steak shish kabobs, veggies, corn, and a yummy pasta salad.

Dessert was wonderful as well!! Coconut frosting!

Sam spoiled me and got me a late Mothers Day/birthday combo gift this year that I have already enjoyed using a lot!

I am mostly looking forward to capturing those quick moments with Malayna that often my normal camera fails to catch.  Looking forward to learning more about how to use my camera and capture more of these moments…


This June two very special people graduated- my cousin Anthony from high school and my brother Steve with his MBA!  I am so proud of both of them.

Malayna enjoyed her first graduation ceremony watching Anthony.  She enjoyed watching all the people.  Anthony is extremely bright, leveled headed, and athletic.  I have to be honest, sometimes I get concerned with the attitudes and behaviors of our next generation, but then I see someone like Anthony and know there are still very respectful, smart, funny, kind men out there.  I’m proud of you Anthony and am excited for this next chapter in your life.  Please don’t forget about your cousin when you write for Sports Illustrated. 😉

Back when I was getting my Masters and working full time, life was VERY busy.  Every moment was filled with either work, going to class, or homework.  This was several years ago before I was married and had Malayna.  Steve, was able to work well over a 40 hr a week job, go to school in downtown Chicago and on top of all that be a wonderful husband to Sara and father to Dominic.

My mother mentioned at his graduation party that he did all of it without complaining.  I can remember thinking often thinking “How does Steve do it all?”  I know he relied heavily on the Lord, but also know his strong work ethic, determination, and love for learning got him through the past few years.  As well as an amazing wife, mother-in-law, and mother!!!  I am so proud of you Steve and know you will continue to do great things!  Thanks for setting such a good example to our family.

The beautiful Simpson’s came up to celebrate.  Love these girls so much and they are so amazing with children and babies!!  Sad…I didn’t take a picture with Mo! 😦

And in other news we may have to schedule an intervention for my daughter….

Three Easy and Delicious Meals!

D is in charge!

This recipe comes from a childhood classic chicken nuggets.  There is just something so tasty about chicken nuggets.  I often buy large quantities of chicken breasts at Costco and am always looking for more chicken recipes. If you have any suggestions please share!

I was really craving chicken nuggets, but wanted something a bit healthier and stumbled upon these.  They are super easy to make and quite yummy.  If you have children I highly recommend making these!

Healthy Baked Chicken Nuggets

  • 16 oz (2 large) skinless boneless chicken breasts, cut into even bit sized pieces
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • 6 tbsp whole wheat Italian seasoned breadcrumbs (I only had regular)
  • 2 tbsp panko
  • 2 tbsp grated Parmesan cheese
  • olive oil spray (I used my Misto)

Preheat oven to 425°. Spray a baking sheet with olive oil spray.

Put the olive oil in one bowl and the breadcrumbs, panko and parmesan cheese in another.

Put a few chunks of chicken at a time into the breadcrumb mixture to coat, then on the baking sheet. Lightly spray the top with olive oil spray then bake 8 – 10 minutes. Turn over then cook another 4 – 5 minutes or until cooked though.

They go great with sweet potatoes and some veggies!

The second recipe is a simple and yummy salmon cake recipe.  This comes from my friend Kim who normally makes these as tuna cakes which are quite tasty!  If you do not have salmon you can easily change it up with tuna or crab.

Salmon Cakes

Serves 2 (easily can double)

1/4 Cup Mayo

1 lg. egg

2 slices of bread (sometimes I make without and its just as good)

1 t. ground mustard

1/4 t. salt

1/8 t pepper

2 medium onions, chopped

2 cans 6 oz tuna, drained (we use 2-3 salmon filets)

2 T olive oil

1/4 cup dry bread crumbs (I used pankos)

1 Tbsp. Italian Seasonings


Mix mayo and egg in medium bowl.  Stir in remaining ingredients except the oil and bread crumbs.

Shape mixture into patties about 3 in. diamter (makes around 4-6 patties)

Heat oil in skillet over medium heat.

Coat each pattie with dry bread crumbs.

Cook in oil over medium heat about 10 minutes, turning once until golden brown and hot in center (Cover with lit while cooking).


This third recipe is super easy to make and adapted from here.

Easy Buffalo Chicken Sandwich (adapted from Hungry-Girl’s Buffalo Chicken Choppity Chop Salad)


  • Four cooked chicken breast, pulled
  • 4 tbsp. Frank’s RedHot Wings Buffalo Sauce
  • 4 tbsp. Grated Parmesan cheese
  • Whole wheat hamburger bun or sandwich thin
Key ingredient:

Oh  yeah ya!


I boiled the chicken breasts (frozen) in water and then pulled them first.

Combine pulled chicken, Frank’s RedHot Wings Buffalo Sauce and Parmesan cheese in a bowl until chicken is fully coated. Microwave until warm. Place buffalo chicken on top of whole wheat bun and enjoy!  So easy and quite tasty!

First Swim Lesson

Thanks to the wonderful recommendation from my good friend Kim, we signed Malayna up to take swim lessons at “Iddy Bitty Pool School” near our home.  For babies ages 3-8 months the swim lessons are FREE, so I had to jump at the chance to take Malayna.  Her first class was called “Return to water.”

Malayna loves bath time, but I had no idea how she would react to the pool.  Immediately when she went in she was sooo LOUD and talked a TON!   In fact every time the instructor would talk she was so loud it was distracting.  Hopefully this isn’t a sign to come that she will be a little talker in school. 🙂

The coach was amazing and our class was so small with only two other families.  We started with getting her used to her face in the water by pouring a cup of water over her face and we gradually worked up to taking her across a sprinkler in the water.

After getting her used to the water we went in circles with her on her back and then showed her how to make bubbles.  Apparently Sam is the expert bubble blower because she loved watching him.

The class ended with showing us how to work our way up to dunking the babies.  He told us that you always want to dunk babies in a U shape never a V and to make sure to go 2-3 inches below the water (often parents don’t go deep enough).  I’m a little nervous for this part when we do it eventually, but I am sure she will do fine.

The hardest part about the class is it’s at 6:40 pm at night so it makes a late bedtime and grumpy baby on the way home.

You mean I have to get out of the pool!!!

Anyone else get sooo hungry after being in the water?

6 Months Old

Malayna turned the big half year on Sunday!

5 months ago…

6 months feels like a big milestone.  I feel like the jump from 5 to 6 months a lot has changed.  Here are some updates:

She has been getting on all fours ready to crawl, but no crawling yet.  I am not in any rush for her to start crawling.  Sam on the other hand is constantly trying to get her to crawl.  When I am making dinner I often glance in the family room to see Sam actively down on all fours attempting to “show” Malyayna how to crawl.

Her spitting up has decreased quite a bit.  She used to spit up after almost every meal, (quite a bit sometimes), and now she spits up 0-2 times a day which makes for a slightly cleaner day. 🙂

This is M after she spit up and decided to face plant right into it…

She LOVES sitting in the stroller (sans car seat).  I think she can look out and see everything and loves taking in the sites.  We have gotten into a little routine of taking a family walk around 6pm (before dinner and bed) with her.  I love evening walks in the summer and it allows Sam and I a few minutes to catch up.

Love these toy straps to keep toys from flying out of the stroller when you aren’t looking…

She now normally takes two long naps (instead of three).  However, sometimes she still does three depending on what the day looks like.

She is definitely at the stage where she is reaching and grabbing for everything.  She LOVES holding unto things.  The other morning I went into her room (I hadn’t heard a peep from her all night) to find her with her hand holding onto the bumper tie and her two feet propped up in the air on the bumper.  I really wish you could have seen it.  I have no idea how she slept that way.  When we are driving in the car and she falls asleep I often find her holding onto a toy.

Her eye lashes continue to grow.  I think they are longer than mine!  And it even looks like she is wearing eye liner in this pic.

She will begin solids next Friday.  Our Doctor encourages us to wait until 6 months (to avoid allergies and make sure the baby is ready).  I will be taking a class on Baby Led Weaning (see website if you are curious: here) next Friday that our Doctors office offers.  I think one of the biggest things I’ve learned since being a mom is that solids are NOT necessary or needed for breastfed babies until after one year old.  Food under one is just for fun! 🙂  Definitely thought babies needed solids.  I’m in no rush to begin solids.  As much as I am excited for her to experience and enjoy food, it does change things.  Plus her diapers changes dramatically (since we are doing cloth 80% of the time) we will now have an added bonus when changing the diapers.  I do however hope she is not a picky eater.  I may or may not be married to a very picky eater (love you honey) and hope she enjoys a wide variety of foods.  I am also very excited to eat meals together.

She is not sitting up unassisted yet.  She still leans some or falls to the right or left.  Kind of funny to watch.

She still has no teeth.

Very grateful for an INCREDIBLE 6 months!

South Carolina, Part III: Hiking, sushi, and frozen yogurt

Psalm 96:13, “Let all creation rejoice before the Lord.”

My grandparents live only five minutes away from a beautiful state park.  Sam, Malayna, and I went there a couple mornings during the week to take a nice hike.

Our first hike Joe, Lauren, and Cecelia came with.  We made it back to the van just in time before it began raining!

Cecelia enjoyed the trail!

I love hiking!! I really wish we lived close to a state park.  We have a really nice trail a few minutes from our house, but its not the same as being near a lake.

The lake hike was definitely my favorite.

Here is my attempt to do a family picture with my camera on the picnic table.

Malaynas like “mom you are crazy!”

And then we met this guy…

No worries we let Malayna touch it and it didn’t bite.

Just kidding you think I am crazy?!  He was about 5 feet from us near a dam and I zoomed in so he looks a lot bigger than what he was.  Can I add that my husband wanted to throw a rock at him and kill him??  Even though I HATE snakes, I told him how cruel that would be and I proceeded to throw a pebble at him before Sam got at him.  Thankfully he slithered away.

Later in the week we enjoyed sushi with Jay, Elisabeth, and Caroline.  Caroline is such a sweet, fun, kind little girl.  Her voice is so precious and she loved baby C and M.  Baboooo 😉

I mean how cute can you be?

We can’t wait to met baby Reese next time!!

Afterward we went to Yogurt Moutain and got frozen yogurt! Oh man this place was great!  You can pick from various frozen yogurts and place all the toppings on that you want!! Lauren told me we have a place like this in South Elgin, and I really want to try it out! Who wants to go with me?

Who can guess which bowl was mine and which was Sam’s?

Yep mine was the chocolate one! We all know I love my chocolate.  Sam went for more fruity combination.  I could go crazy in that place, but you pay by the ounce so you have to be careful how much you load up!

M had tons of fun!

Just wanted to add, a lot of you commented on the stapler in Sam’s bag.  Haha!  I know who carries a stapler with them?  Anyway, it was because he had his work bag with him. 🙂

South Carolina Part II: First Zoo Trip

One of my favorite childhood memories is going to the zoo!  I love walking around on a hot summer day and checking out all the beautiful animals.  My parents always let me make one of those mold zoo animals that were always a highlight.  Anyone know what I am talking about?  Not sure what they are called.

There is just something about animals that demonstrate God’s power, uniqueness, and creative abilities!  I always seem to feel closer to God when I am out in His creation.  One of my favorite verses is, “For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities his eternal power and divine nature have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.”  Romans 1:20.  Powerful verse on God’s revelation in creation!

I have been wanting to take M to the zoo since it started getting warm out, and finally we were able to go when we were down South!  Cecelia and Malayna greatly enjoyed their first trip to the zoo!  Ok, so I know they had no idea they were at the zoo, but I hope they come to have special memories at the zoo like I do!

Cecelia immediately fell asleep in the parking lot to the zoo and Malayna shortly after…

Malayna kept telling us where to go on her map and was sad to see there were no penguins (her favorite) at this zoo.

The girls…

Aww cuties…

Have you seen a sweeter looking face?

These guys amaze me how they can sleep like this!!

Love these three…

Who can finish a day at the zoo without ice cream, or in Lauren’s case Rita’s!
 Happy boy…popcorn and Avengers!  Great movie by the way!

Celebrating George and Charlie’s graduation from kindergarten!  Way to go boys!

Our trip to downtown Greenville….