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Wow. Wow, wow, wow. Here we are. One year. That first birthday is such a milestone, isn’t it? 365 days of being alive on this Earth. So much growth, bonding, learning, failing, and living done in a year.

A few days before his birthday I got overwhelmingly sad thinking about my dad. It’s like the mark of Logan turning one meant that it really has been more than an entire year without him. There’s this whole new person that he never got to meet.

The very beginning of Logan’s life started with my dad (totally random and awkward, but he was conceived on my dad’s last birthday), and my dad was one of the first people we told I was pregnant. I have a video of it, and I’ll cherish that forever.

But Logan? Logan came into our life during a time when I needed him the absolute most. I never thought I wanted a boy, and he’s captivated my heart in a way I never thought it could happen. His sisters love him to pieces, and he fits in our family perfectly.

As sad I am that the baby stage is over for this part of our lives, I’m actually pretty excited to see this little dude grow up into a boy and then into a man. Every day I remind him that he’s smart and kind, and I pray he’ll remember that as he grows up.

We were actually home in Albuquerque for his birthday, which meant we could actually celebrate with family. Family flew out for the girls’ first birthdays, but we didn’t have a single thing planned for Logan’s big day, so this was extra special.

I’m so thankful for the impromptu party his grandparents put together on short notice. As a military family we don’t get to celebrate often with family, and since my husband wasn’t even around for it, this party was icing on his little cupcake.

Keep scrolling down for more pictures of him enjoying his first cake!

adorable monthly onesie by Jonley Gifts (etsyfacebookinstagram)

Logan John: 12 months

Nicknames: Logan Bear, Lo-Lo

Likes: dancing, trying to sing (which is just a loud screech), playing with his sisters, eating (specifically, mac & cheese, oatmeal, veggie straws, and quesadillas), watching the girls clap (he’s so close!)

Dislikes: being over tired, having a poopy diaper, and when everyone leaves him and blocks him in baby jail.

Milestones: He got another tooth (5 total now), and we moved him into a big boy car seat (still rear facing, of course). He also went on a long road trip back to NM and rocked the trip.

Weight/Height: 22 pounds (54th percentile) and 2′ 6″ (30 inches; 23rd percentile), so he’s on the shorter side, and pretty average for weight.

Clothing Size: 12 months. I need to clear out all of the 9 months, because it’s just a pain to have to try to button them!

Sleep: Eh. My kids just stink at sleeping. He’ll have a couple decent nights, and then he’ll just want to be picked up, snuggled, and then put back. On our road trip we were sleeping in the same room, so we snuggled most of the night. The boy is my favorite snuggler out of all the kids, but I don’t sleep well when he’s in the bed with me. But oh, how I adore his little body against mine.

Random Tidbits: This is getting to be my favorite part of this age, because they can start communicating with you. And watching him play with his sisters? Oh gosh, it’s priceless.

How are Mama and Papa Doing? I solo-parented again for half of this month, and did pretty good. Kenny missed his birthday, but that’s life in the military for you. On the bright side, watching Logan’s face light up when he sees pictures or videos of Kenny is ADORABLE. He squeals and tries to clap. He just gets so excited!

*I’m a month late with publishing this, but since he turned one he now takes a few steps, claps when he’s excited, and is sleeping through the night more often than not. Life is good!

Happy birthday, little dude! I can’t wait to celebrate many more with you over the years.

The post Logan John (twelve months) appeared first on Jessica Lynn Writes.

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This past Saturday was one of the best days I’ve had in a really long time. My husband was away for work during the entire month of April, so it felt like a luxury and a treat to have him home with us. He’s here for a while (woohoo!), but just having him back made our family feel whole again.

I try really hard to keep myself and the kids busy so we won’t miss him too much, but words can’t even express how complete he makes our family.

But back to Saturday. We had plans, and then those plans changed a few times, so we rolled with it, and decided to make lemonade out of lemons.

Before we knew it, we were plopping quarters into the meter at Oceanside Pier, and promising the girls they could get their toes wet on the beach and play at the playground right there, too.

When we got there we strolled along the long Oceanside pier. There were fisherman (and fisher-ladies, too), all along the sides, and now the girls want to go fishing.

Since that will last all of five minutes, we’re going to put that idea on hold until they’re older.

After the long pier walk (both girls were whining and complaining by the time we got back), we said they could go down and play in the sand.

Mind you, we had absolutely zero change of clothes, let alone beach attire with us (because of said plans changing). And anyone who has kids knows they don’t just dip their little toes in water and be done with it.

Nope. They want the whole shebang when it comes to checking out the beach. Not that I can blame them; I love the beach!

I let my guard down, and we let them have some fun.

Thankfully I had sunscreen in the van, so I slathered them all up and down with it, and once we realized Logan wouldn’t just sit contently in the stroller, we practically stripped him down to his birthday suit and let them all enjoy it.

 

The water was cool and refreshing, the sand had specks of gold in it that shimmered like glitter, and the kids all had a blast; it was one of those moments where my heart swelled looking at my family and being thankful I get to call them mine.

Thankfully, this beach has a playground, so we lured them away from one fun place to go play at another one. We left in stages, so there were minimal (actually zero) tears when we actually did leave.

We could have made an entire day of it, but since we didn’t even have towels with us, I think we spent the perfect amount of time there.

Our day continued when we had the most delicious lunch at this hole in the wall about 10 minutes east of the beach. Miramar Fish Tacos and Beer—that’s the actual name of the place, and since that’s exactly what we were in the mood for, we tried it out.

Holy pan-fried potatoes, batman; it was fantastic.

I started with a michelada that was so good and perfect not just because it was Cinco de Mayo, but because we had just been hanging out in the sun, and it was cool, tangy, and refreshing.

The kids got fish sticks, and they each devoured three of them, which was delightful in and of itself, and we got a kid’s quesadilla that the boy gobbled up.

Kenny picked the California Burrito, which was perfection wrapped up in an oversized tortilla.

It was filled with fried fish, grilled fish, smoked tuna, French fries, and avocado, and the different flavors and textures in it worked so great with each other that every bite was exciting. Topped with some of the house salsa and, YUM!

I picked their street-sized tacos, because I love that you can taste a variety when they’re on the smaller size. When I asked for a recommendation, our waitress didn’t even hesitate: “Octopus,” she said. Done.

That octopus was unbelievably flavorful and tender (it’s quickly becoming one of my favorite things to eat from the sea, by the way), and it’s the taco I started with end finished with. I also ordered a jalapeno shrimp that packed a lot of heat, and I was thankful my husband’s burrito came with some beans to cool things down. Their smoked tuna taco—also recommended since that’s what the place is apparently known for—had a really great texture and flavor to it, almost like it had been smoked for hours. And last, but not least, was the arrachera steak taqueso taco, which was easily another favorite of mine. The marinated steak was cooked with some cheese that left this nice frico surrounding it, and it enhanced the flavor all around.

Gosh, it was good! I don’t know when we’ll need to go back up there again, but we both decided we’d love to taste our way through the menu, because we have a feeling everything on there would get two thumbs up.

We rounded out the day with attempting naps (one out of the three slept), and then a mini family photo shoot that afternoon.

My friend Chrissy Walther offered her talents as a fundraiser for our MOPS group, and I jumped at the opportunity. I’m all about family pictures, and there was no way I’d pass it up.

Our time with her was so much fun, and to see the kids run, play, and laugh outside is always something I love experiencing. We saw a few back-of-the-camera shots, and I am seriously sitting at the edge of my seat waiting for her to send us more pictures, because I am in L O V E with them.

These are the only official ones I’ve seen so far, but not you can see why I literally can’t wait to see more. Words can’t even express how stinkin’ adorable this is. I want to laugh, cry, and snuggle him all at the same time—she captures moments you want to cherish forever, and I’m so thankful.

Get in touch with Chrissy (website, facebook, instagram) and schedule something with her ASAP; you won’t be sorry.

The day ended with a round of margaritas (because, Cinco de Mayo), and some homemade guacamole, and more laughter around the dinner table.

It was a very good and spontaneous Saturday.

The post A Spontenous Cinco de Mayo appeared first on Jessica Lynn Writes.

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Don’t get me wrong; I LOVE the Terracotta pot I got last year for Mother’s Day. I mean, I actually cried when I saw it for the first time, because it was so stinkin’ thoughtful, and my husband got all three kids’ hand prints on it (including our less-than a month old baby). I’ll keep it with us, wherever we move, from now until forever.

What Mama REALLY Wants For Mother’s Day

But this year I want stuff for Mother’s Day. I’m fully admitting that I want fun things for me. Is that wrong? Yes, I love those handmade gifts (and have actually requested a homemade card and anything else my daughter’s want to create), but I also love me some presents. I could certainly just go buy these things, but where’s the fun in that?

Mother’s Day is already on my husband’s mind—he asked when it is (May 13, 2018), so here’s my Mother’s Day gift guide for him this year, and I’m sharing it with you in case you see something that you need to send to your other half, too.

Butter Chardonnay

The first time I sipped this wine I actually stopped sipping it started to almost chug it. Totally unlady-like, I know, but Oh. My. Gosh. This wine is smooth…like, well, you guessed it: like butter.

Here’s the best part about this chardonnay: you can get it at Costco for $25. Come to mama!

Also, this is a little lame to admit, but that double bottle from Costco will probably easily last me six months. Twenty-year-old me is probably laughing her head off, but I’m such a lightweight after having babies!

Speaking of drinks: I don’t need these things (because I already have and love them), but maybe you need them:

Cold Brew Pitcher
Electric Wine Opener
An awesome mug

Mama Trucker Hat

I’ve been out of the fashion sense for about three decades, so I don’t know if this is a fad everywhere else, but here in San Diego, you’re one of the cool kids moms if you have a trucker hat. Well, this mama wants to be cool…or at least fake it with a fun hat.

Here are a couple I like:
I Sweat Glitter
Mama (rose gold glitter)

Things to Make me Feel Pretty

The kids are the reason I’m a mama, after all, so the least I can do is wear their names or initials around my neck. Or declare that I am, indeed, their mama.

My favorites:
Linked Circle Necklace
Birthstone Necklace (I love the raw stones used in this necklace)
MAMA (pictured here. have this, LOVE this, had to share it with you)

Magnolia Table

I love me some Chip and JoJo, but now that Fixer Upper is all said and done, I need another way to get my fix of the Gains Family. This new cookbook, Magnolia Table: A Collection of Recipes for Gathering, looks amazing, and I need it in my life until I can make it to the actual Magnolia Table in Waco.

Matchy Matchy

Oh, how I get a kick out of some of the matching mom and me clothes out there. I have the onesie for my son already, but I need to build up my collection and get one for each of the girls and one for me.

These shirts are what dreams are made of, by the way. SO comfy and flattering!

Find them from Twinkle, Twirl, and Sass!

Massage

This will forever be on my Mother’s Day gift guide list, because there’s nothing better than having a little rest and relaxation, aka, an entire hour in a room without someone saying, “MAMA,” over and over and over and over and over again.

Honorable mentions that I’ll always love:

Flowers
Breakfast in bed
Pictures and cards from the kids
A clean house
Dinner made for me that night

What do YOU really want this Mother’s Day?

Come on, mama, be stingy, greedy, and a little materialistic. What would go on your Mother’s Day gift guide?

The post What Mama REALLY Wants for Mother’s Day appeared first on Jessica Lynn Writes.

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Going on a Disney cruise is pretty darn exciting all on its own, and simply uttering the words, “We’re going on a Disney cruise!” is enough to make my inner five-year-old freak out and get all giddy.

We’re officially less than THREE weeks away from our five-night Disney Cruise on the Disney Wonder, and the excitement over here is building by the hour. I mean, how could it not?! This all-inclusive vacation is filled with Disney magic around every corner for five days straight! All the food we can eat, all the M I C K E Y we can handle, all the childcare (yesssss), amazing entertainment, and complete fun at our fingertips!

But just in case you have little kids around who have zero clue for what they’re in for, here are a few things you can do to bring them some Disney magic before you set sail.

How to Build Excitement for your Disney Cruise

The best part about this list is that almost everything is free. And free is my favorite when you’re paying an arm and a leg for a Disney cruise.

I’d love to hear how you build excitement for your family-fun adventure on a Disney cruise! Tell me all about it below.

Make a Disney Cruise Countdown

I really wanted to be crafty and make something fun for our countdown. I scoured Pinterest and found fun things to go on our fridge, and I liked those cool paper chains, but when it came down to it, I needed something a little more practical and simple.

This free printable was perfect. I popped it in an old, unused frame and bought a dry-erase marker, and we were in business. I actually had every intention of being a little crafty and painting the frame red, but that clearly didn’t happen. You can do that, though, just to add a little extra magic to your countdown.

My daughter’s been keeping track of the countdown, so she gets to practice writing out her numbers and counting down. Thanks, Disney, for making this an educational experience!

Watch more Disney

This might sound like a no-brainer, but if you don’t already have your boob-tube on Disney or Disney Jr., change the channel now. My kids love watching PBS and Nick Jr., but when we booked the cruise I started flipping it over for some Mickey Mouse Clubhouse and popping in some classic DVDs like Little Mermaid, Cinderella, and The Princess and the Frog.

I want the characters aboard our ship to be familiar when the girls see them, and I point out that they will get to see them on the cruise.

Buy Disney Apparel

You don’t have to go crazy for this one. Some of my recent favorite Disney clothes are from Walmart, because the prices are excellent considering the kids will grow out of them by the end of the season anyway.

The girls both got matching Minnie Mouse swimsuits for their birthdays, and some Minnie tops and bottoms to wear. We also found some Minnie flip-flops at Old Navy, and I got the baby some outfits from Walmart, too.

Target has some fun women’s Disney T-shirts, and so does Walmart online.

Get a Phone Call From Mickey and Friends

I don’t have first hand experience for this yet, but you can schedule a phone call about your cruise from Mickey and his friends!

Our phone call is scheduled to ring a week before our cruise, and I know the girls are going to go crazy when my phone rings for them. I’ll post an update here on how it goes.

Watch Cruise Videos on YouTube

This is my daughter’s favorite thing to do right now. I know those unboxing videos are all the rage for kids, but my daughter is obsessed with watching Disney cruise YouTube videos. We’ve actually learned a lot from them, and I get more and more excited every time I see one with her.

Here are a few of our favorite channels in case you want to see them and get excited, too:
Michael Key
AJ Ruck
Of Mice and Trains
CoralJoy Travel
Being Mommy with Style
Picture the Magic

If you watch Disney YouTube videos, I’d love to hear about your favorites!

Set a Potty Training Goal

If you’re going on a Disney cruise, chances are you’re going with a young child…so if that little one of yours is still wearing diapers, this idea is for you.

This past year I’ve joked that our middle child was going to still wear diapers in college, because I seriously didn’t think that potty training would ever happen for her. Until we booked the cruise.

I had a goal in mind, and through some Jedi mind trick, we helped make our stubborn girl see that she had to be potty trained for the cruise.

Here’s the thing: I wanted it to be her idea. We talked about the cruise and the awesome kid’s area, the Oceaneer Club, so much and basically told her that if she didn’t go pee and poop in the potty, they wouldn’t allow her in there. (This is true—kids have to be three years old and potty trained.)

Slowly but surely, it worked. She wanted to be a big girl and not have to stay with her baby brother in the nursery (where I told her the babies will just sleep the whole time). She’s about 95% potty trained right now, and ridiculously excited to join her sister in the Oceaneer Club. I’m calling that a giant win.

We also celebrated her birthday with some new Minnie Mouse panties…naturally.

Disney Happy Mail

There are a few things I’ve been getting in the mail for our trip, and talk about exciting—they’re going to make our trip so fun! I’ll share more about these must-have items soon, but if you want to see a sneak peek, check out my highlights section on my Instagram profile from your phone!

Disney Videos and Brochures

You can request a video and a brochure about a Disney cruise straight from Disney itself. I actually ordered mine weeks ago and it’s still not here, though, so plan accordingly!

If you know anyone with a AAA membership, you can have them pick up some fun reading material on the cruises. My girls flipped through the catalog, so they enjoyed that for a little bit. If you’re Costco members you can find some Disney travel info in the stores, too.

Your Turn

Okay, now I want to hear from you! How do/did you build excitement for your Disney cruise?!

The post Get Excited for Your Disney Cruise! appeared first on Jessica Lynn Writes.

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“Do your boobs hang low, do they wobble to and fro? Can you tie ’em in a knot, can you tie ’em in bow? Can you throw them over your shoulder like a continental soldier? Do your boobs hang low?”

As funny as my tweaks to that classic song are, I totally feel like it’s 100% true. I started my nursing journey more than five years ago with barely there “A” cups, and let’s just say that I’m moving down the alphabet in terms of cup sizes the more I nurse my babies.

I’ve collectively been nursing for four years. That means four years of having my boobs change drastically, and literally having tiny humans suck their life-giving milk out of me. It’s pretty amazing when you think about it.

Breastfeeding Tips

Since I’ve been there, done that, and my third baby doesn’t seem to have any intention on stopping anytime soon, I wanted to share some breastfeeding tips and secrets I’ve learned over the past several years.

This is a sponsored conversation on behalf of The Breastfeeding Shop via SoFluential Media. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

Stop, Slow Down, and Enjoy It

This one’s going first, because I’m nearing the end of my breastfeeding journey, so it’s on the forefront of my mind lately. You may be at the beginning of the road and it seems like all you’re doing is nursing. It can literally be a time-suck, and I get that, but just know you won’t always be feeding your little one every 2-3 hours (or more…cluster feeding is so hard).

As your baby grows, they’ll start needing less of your time, which will make your time with them even more precious. Try to enjoy it. Pick out your favorite features as they’re in the comfort of your arms. Stroke their hair, their ears, or rub their back.

You’ll hear it time and time again, but these days of giving everything you have to them are so, so long, but the years are short. Before you know it you’ll be down to only nursing them once a day, and then—BAM—one day it will end, and you’ll wonder how it happened so quickly.

Especially as they get older and especially as you have more kids, it’ll be so easy to want to just stop a nursing session early, or try to hurry them along, but stop and soak in their baby-hood, because one day it will all be over and you may just miss it.

Get a good nursing bra

I’ve mentioned this before in a post with all the things you need to breastfeed, but finding the right nursing bra is vital in my book. You want one that’s going to be comfortable and can grow with you, and will last and hold up. I get the same new bra for each baby, and it’s just so comfortable. I actually need to start bra shopping again for a non-nursing bra, and I’m absolutely dreading it.

Skip the Nursing Cover, Breastfeed in Public, and Still be Discreet.

Okay, this tip is for when your little one is still little and not wanting to play gymnastics all over you during a nursing session. Fancy covers out there are excellent, and if they float your boat then go for it. But if you want to ditch the nursing cover, wear a long tank top under your top, and then use your shirt (the one on top) as a way to cover your exposed boob.

My favorite tanks for under the shirt are from Maurices and the two-pack nursing tanks from H&M. They’ve both kept their shape and are long enough to cover everything, everywhere.

Once your baby starts getting mobile and curious about the world he may start popping on and off and looking everywhere, so just be prepared for possible boob exposure when that happens. But when they’re actually nursing, their head will most likely cover whatever your under shirt and over shirt isn’t hiding.

If you’re not sure about this method, try it at home and practice before doing it out in public.

RELATED POST: Why I (Do and Don’t) Whip it Out Have the Right Equipment

Yeah, yeah, yeah, all you need to nurse are boobs, but really, a few more things are quite nice to have around. Like a breast pump, for example.

Even if you’re nursing exclusively, don’t write off the idea of having a pump just yet. They can be AMAZING. Having a little stockpile of frozen milk isn’t just nice for when you’d like a nursing session off (say, at 3 am, for example), or maybe when you want to go on a date, or possibly later down the road and you need to use some of your magic milk to help with something like pink eye. It’s just nice to have.

And if you’re a military spouse, there is absolutely no reason why you can’t have one, because Tricare doesn’t just cover them—they give one to you at absolutely no cost. Getting one is easy…like, ridiculously easy. All you have to do is upload your prescription to The Breastfeeding Shop, pick your pump (there are more than 9 to choose from), and they’ll take care of the rest.

This is like night and day different from how I got my first pump years ago, and I highly recommend you take advantage of this opportunity. You can get your prescription for a pump from your OB doctor or some pediatricians will also write one for you. The Breastfeeding Shop can also obtain it for you if you provide the right info (this is the route I took since I knew I’d probably lose the prescription.

But wait! That’s not all!

Tricare will also pay and cover additional accessories for your pump, and let me tell you: this is incredibly amazing, because even if you don’t use your pump often, you should still change out your parts. Click that box on the form so you don’t miss out on getting pump parts shipped right to your door.

Talk About It

Here’s a huge breastfeeding tip: If you’re struggling with nursing and want to continue, talk about it. Find a trusted friend who’s been there and done that, and talk about it with her. Search for a lactation consultant and set up a session or two. And if the two of you don’t jive for some reason, find someone else.

There may be a movement to normalize breastfeeding, but no matter how much attention breastfeeding gets, nursing is hard, and it’s definitely not easy—especially at the beginning. So if you have questions or concerns, chat about it with someone who can help.

We aren’t meant to do this mom thing alone. Find a breastfeeding group, or heck, just start up a conversation with a mom at a park. If there’s one thing new moms love to talk about it’s about our labor stories, our boobs, and our kids.

This isn’t the first time I’ve talked about breastfeeding tips. If you’re looking for more posts, check out my archive here.

Okay, mamas…your turn. What are your tips for breastfeeding, and do you have a pump? Was it a breeze to get?

The post Breastfeeding Tips from a Mom of Three appeared first on Jessica Lynn Writes.

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Did you know that when I got married I could barely boil water?

That’s a funny little ice breaker I say at my Pampered Chef parties, but it’s also pretty true. I couldn’t cook to save my life. In fact, I got a book called, “How to Boil Water” at my bridal shower. (That book, by the way, is still one of my favorites for how-to do simple things that one should know how to do, but might not.) I could make a fantastic quesadilla and guacamole that turned heads, but that was truly it. Everything else I tried to make failed in a really big way.

Before I got married my mom and I actually spent a good month making enchiladas and taco meat over and over again, just so I could have something to feed my new husband besides quesadillas.

Slowly but surely, I learned how to cook. Yes, my husband could cook for himself, but as a new stay-at-home wife, The Pioneer Woman became my best friend during the day. Her blog posts took every direction step-by-step, and soon, I was actually making edible food.

I also realized how easy it was to make a meal. I learned how to use real ingredients and herbs to make meals that would explode with flavor in your mouth.

I also have Pampered Chef to thank for a lot of it. I picked up a Mix ‘n Chop at my very first party, and it literally changed the way I looked at cooking. It was easy and fun.

I bought that because I wanted to buy something at my friend’s party, and the price point ($13) wouldn’t set me back much since I didn’t spend much time in the kitchen. As much as I love our awesome cookware and higher priced items now, that little tool is still my favorite thing in the whole catalog.

Flash forward about five years later. I was a mom of two, and I wanted out of the house. I also wanted to do something with my life. I was a writer with a fun blog as a hobby (ahem, this one!), but I missed bringing in money. I wanted to buy my own Starbucks, or go shopping at Target without having to dip into our joint funds.

I thought about all the things I could do, but a little voice in my head kept reminding me about how much I loved that darn Mix ‘n Chop. Then I heard something that really resonated with me: “Enriching Lives. One Meal and One Memory at a Time.” 

That’s Pampered Chef’s cornerstone. Yes, Pampered Chef is a direct sales company, and yes, we do sell things, but it’s so much more than that.

We celebrate mealtime and realize that it’s more than just putting food on the table.

It’s how we transform relationships, where we create traditions, and literally where families come together to mold memories. The time-saving tools truly do save time so you can spend those extra minutes with your family.

It makes cooking, which could be looked at as a dreaded chore, fun and exciting!

I signed up with the company two and a half years ago, and I’m so thankful I get to share the tools, recipes, and memories with so many people.

We live in such a fast-paced world, and with a drive-thru on almost every corner it’s easy to forget about what cooking a meal at home actually means.

My kids may scoff and not eat everything I put in front of them, but I truly believe that just by actually making food (whether it’s from scratch, semi-homemade, or out of a box from the freezer), I’m helping their future. Not just from a nutrition perspective, but how they’ll view food and how they’ll contribute to their own family.

Then, the company itself is giving us more  than I ever could’ve imagined.

I love that I’m going to take my mom on an all-expense paid vacation to Florida later this week, and that I’m working on a trip to Hawaii for next year with my husband. I’m so thankful that I could pay our Georgia mortgage while it was in between tenants last year, and I love that I can pay our utilities out here.

In fact, because we have extra money coming in now, we can take a Disney Cruise up the California coast later this month. And this is on top of all the kitchen stuff I get for free, the friendships I’ve made along the way, and of course, food that actually tastes delicious.

And they’re giving. So giving. Pampered Chef offers fundraisers year round, and regularly contributes to Feeding America and the American Cancer Society, and products also have a certain amount that is donated to these causes.

So many great things. We actually made some comfort blankets at our conference last year to give to patients going through chemo, and they had a canned food drive there, too.

We have so many options for parties: fundraisers, home cooking shows, fun Facebook parties (they’re fun, I promise!), freezer meal work shops, wedding registries, and more!

Don’t worry, I’m not going to push you to have a party or sign up with me; I just couldn’t keep quiet about my passion for this wonderful company that’s been around for more than 30 years. Of course, if you want to know more about anything, I’m just a comment, Facebook group, or an email away!

I just had to share, in more than a few words, about what this company means to me. It allows me to work from home with my three kids literally right by my side, help pay the bills and for vacations, and it literally helps me put food on the table. You just can’t beat that!

Do you own any Pampered Chef? Have you been to or hosted a party before? Have you heard of the company? I’d love to hear how PC’s been in your life (if at all)!

The post How I’m Enriching Lives One Meal and One Memory at a Time with Pampered Chef appeared first on Jessica Lynn Writes.

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Oh, birthday parties. I have such a love/hate relationship with them. Attending other parties is fine and dandy, but throwing our own parties? Stress city for me.

The girls both celebrate birthdays one after the other (February and March), and then Logan follows in April (tomorrow, actually). That means that unless I want to seriously drive myself crazy, they’re going to get a combined party between now until they move out.

[Read more here about why throwing birthday parties stresses me out.]

Kenny and I went back and forth on if we should have the girls’ party at a park or somewhere else. “Somewhere else” meant spending tons of money on a birthday package somewhere, and it turned out that a park was almost as expensive just to rent a little gazebo.QA

So I found another solution: party at Chick-fil-A! I love it, the kids love it, and Kenny likes their coffee, so it was a done deal.

I thanked my lucky stars that we picked CFA since it rained the morning of their party. We were going to have it out on their patio, but the rain swept us inside. Everyone rolled with the punches, and it worked out since then the kids could frolic inside the play area.

We ordered off their catering menu, and thankfully didn’t have too much leftover. I planned on freezing leftovers, but in reality we just munched on CFA over the weekend.

The girls picked out sparkly sunglasses and bubbles to hand out to their friends, and we bought some fun photo props. Since the Chick-fil-A cow was joining us for part of the party, they also put up a photo backdrop, where we all had fun snapping pics.

And last, but not least, we set out a little mini bundt cake bar! I made some funfetti mini bundt cakes, brought some pink and purple frosting and tons of different kinds of sprinkles, and the kids went to town decorating their cakes!

I totally intended for the little cakes to be favors, so I brought boxes for them to take ’em home, but then they ate them right then and there. Sorry, parents, for the sugar rush that showed up a little later!

In fact, in my head I didn’t even think about them eating their little cakes…so much so that we actually ordered a Costco cake…that we never even brought out. Thankfully, Kenny had no problem getting people to eat it at work that coming Monday.

All in all, it was a really great party. A few friends couldn’t make it, but we were thankful and excited for those who were there.

As much as it stressed me out to have their party, it was really, really fun to see the girls having so much fun with their friends. They’re only little for such a short time, so I need to soak up and enjoy these innocent little birthday parties.

The post Celebrating Birthdays at Chick-fil-A appeared first on Jessica Lynn Writes.

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Three kids. I have THREE tiny humans that call me “Mama,” and depend on me for E V E R Y T H I N G. This is still especially crazy to me since I didn’t want children growing up. I mean, the thought of them were nice, but I was too selfish, and didn’t know the first thing about kids. (Spoiler alert: I still feel like I don’t know the first thing about them.) My husband, on the other hand, always wanted three from the very beginning. Three girls, to be exact.

So here I am with three of them; three kids under five years old.

People have asked me a lot recently what it’s like with three kids, and what was the hardest stage—going from one kids to two of them, or from two little ones to three. Well, in my case, it was going from zero to one.

That first baby—that first year—was probably the hardest year of my life. After that, with baby number two, and now with baby number three, I really feel like the transition’s been a lot easier and more manageable.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s still really hard with three kids. Life is busy—and we aren’t even in the busy stage of life yet. It’s busy in a sense that your mind is constantly on call. I’m never not thinking of them, or looking over them, or looking for them, or talking to them, or listening to them, or asking how one of them is doing. It’s constant noise and constant stimulation—so much more than you ever thought possible.

Actually, let’s be honest: it’s chaos. Sometimes it’s controlled chaos, and other times it’s letting them win the battle as you sit back and watch and listen to the chaos ensue.

And don’t even get me started during the times that I solo parent, because…whew…life gets CRAZY hard then.

What I’ve loved about having more kids, though, is that they help me and each other. My oldest truly loved changing the middle kid’s diaper when she was a baby. And as long as it wasn’t a poop, we’d let her. My middle child now is such a big helper, and plays with the baby. My oldest can pick up the baby and move him, or get him food, or take objects out of his mouth.

They’re helpful, which makes life a whole lot easier.

Plus, they play with each other. I feel like this is an anomaly sometimes, but they really do play together more than they fight with each other. The girls—from the beginning—have been really close, and I have a feeling their brother, as he gets older, will fit right in.

Our baby factory is closed, but I fully believe if we had more kids, it would only get easier, because with each new baby, another kid is older and more helpful.

Is life awesome all the time? Heck no. We yell and fight, and cry, and scream. There are time-outs (for the kids and grown ups), and some days I dream of them all being in school. But my husband and I have worked hard to discipline, make rules, and schedules to maintain and set some (hopefully) good foundations for our little ones.

Does this mean they won’t grow up to be crazy? Who knows. What I do know now is that three kids is working for us, and I’m loving it.

If you have multiple kids, which was the hardest jump for you?

*Photos courtesy of the fabulous Chrissy Walther Photography

The post What Life is Like with Three Kids appeared first on Jessica Lynn Writes.

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Jessica Lynn Writes Blog by Jessica Lynn - 1M ago

Have you ever started eating a meal and get sad halfway through it, because it’s almost over, but it’s so good you don’t want it to end? What if it doesn’t have to end? What if you have a light-bulb moment and realize that the best is yet to come, because YOU GET LEFTOVERS! And let’s be honest, sometimes the leftovers are even better than the actual meal. That scenario pretty much sums up how I feel every time I eat this Taco Pie.

We’ve been making this for, gosh, close to a decade now, and I love it just as much as the first time I made it. It’s easily my favorite casserole, and I try to always have one bag of filling in the freezer for days when a craving hits, I can defrost it and make it for dinner.

If you’re making it on the fly it comes together really fast, too. Definitely a 30-minute meal. And as long as you have the staples for tacos, you can most likely make this without even needing to leave your house.

Do you have to make it in a pie dish? Nope. But it sure does make it more fun!

I do suggest using a salsa that isn’t too sweet…you want that tang and kick that the salsa brings to the table. This is my favorite salsa. It’s pretty spicy (fair warning) so a little goes a long way, but in a dish like this it totally mellows out with all the cheese involved.

Also, stale or older taco shells work best. The recipe calls for 15 ounces of crushed tomatoes, but it’s usually easier to find the bigger can of crushed tomatoes and then double everything else. Having a second meal of this won’t be a bad thing, I promise. Just pour half of the filling in a freezer bag before you get to the layering stage. Then, when you’re ready to make it, just make sure you have taco shells and cheese on hand.

This Taco Pie is hearty, so be warned: you’ll want to eat more than a serving. Take a deep breath and just say no. Push the rest aside and save it for later (because this tastes even better the next day).

And when you have it later…or even the day of…put a fried egg on top. The creamy yolk is just perfect with the spicy, bold flavors from the pie.

Taco Pie
Move over, tacos, because this Taco Pie is just the kick your Taco Tuesday needed. It's all the delicious taco flavors rolled into a pie, casserole-style.
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Ingredients
  1. 6 or 7 taco shelves, halved (12-14 pieces total, or make your own)
  2. 1/2 tablespoon oil
  3. 1 onion, chopped
  4. 2 cloves garlic, minced
  5. 1/4 teaspoon of cayenne pepper
  6. 1 pound lean ground beef
  7. 2 Tbs Taco Seasoning (see notes for recipe)
  8. 1 15-ounce can crushed tomatoes
  9. 1/4 cup salsa (optional depending on how much spice you like)
  10. 8 ounces chopped green chiles
  11. 1 can corn, drained
  12. 8 ounces of cheese, divided (sharp cheddar, mozzarella, Colby & Monterey Jack, etc.)
Directions
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. Heat vegetable oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.
  3. Add onions to the skillet and cook, stirring until soft and translucent.
  4. Add minced garlic and cayenne; stir and mix for about 30 seconds. Add ground beef and taco seasoning; cook, breaking up the meat, until browned.
  5. Stir in tomatoes, salsa, chile and corn; mix well.
  6. Bring to a simmer and cook until slightly thickened, about 5 minutes.
  7. Remove from heat.
  8. Arrange half of the taco shells on the bottom of a 9-to-10-inch pie plate (overlapping is fine; about 5 halves).
  9. Top with half of the meat mixture, then half of the cheese.
  10. Repeat with the remaining tortillas, meat and cheese.
  11. Cover loosely with foil and bake until the cheese melts, about 10 minutes.
  12. Slice, serve, and enjoy!
Jessica Lynn Writes http://jessicalynnwrites.com/
Notes:
Here is my favorite taco seasoning recipe
Here’s the link to my favorite pie dish

Have you ever had anything like this? I can’t wait for you to try it.

The post Taco Pie appeared first on Jessica Lynn Writes.

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I know we’ve probably all heard the stories about the sister of a friend’s cousin whose husband went in for a vasectomy, and they celebrated that night with a little fun time, only to find out (6-8 weeks later) that the procedure didn’t actually work, and SURPRISE! they’re having another baby.

(Don’t worry…this isn’t that kind of post.)

That story, or rather, the stories I’ve heard left me completely anxious in the days, weeks, and months after my husband got snipped. He did it back in November, after extensive discussion on whether we wanted to continue growing our family.

Our answer, we decided together, was no. I didn’t want to go through another nine+ months pregnant, plus, babies are expensive, and a family of five suited us pretty well. If we want to expand our family in the future, we can always look into adoption.

And that was that.

He went in for the procedure, and it actually took us longer to find a place to park than it did for them to do their thing in there.

He had to go back to make sure it worked….only we’re procrastinators, so it took him four months before I finally figured out a way to make him serious about getting checked: I withheld sex.

I heard yet another tale of someone who thought they were in the clear, only to get knocked up out of the blue (because their vasectomy didn’t work). I did not want that to be us, so I told him no more sex until I’m sure we don’t have to be worried about more kids.

Go figure that it only took him two days to get in there after that. But then a surprising thing happened when he gave me the results.

The second I saw the words, “It worked; zero little swimmers left,” pop up on my phone, and I got super sad, and noticed I was crying instead of being happy.

Hello, hormones.

Because just like that, a chapter in our story closed.

Of course it’s not the end of the world or our book, and I’m very excited for all the things in the “pros” category for our family being complete, but it’s just a little sad knowing we won’t produce any more awesome and adorable tiny humans. 

This stage of life I’ve been in for the past 6 years has been so overwhelmingly distinctive and powerful. I’ve been either pregnant or nursing for that entire time. And as a stay-at-home mom, it’s literally been my life and what I do and know how to do. 

Being able to “find” myself again—something I’ve been looking forward to—is actually here. For the first time in more than 2,000 days I’ll be able to start regulating my hormones again. No more pregnancies, no more births, no more cute and snuggly newborns, no more breastfeeding, no more birth control…no more excuses.

It’s time to start moving into a new stage of life, which is both exciting and, to be completely honest, it’s terrifying. I know the baby stage almost like the back for my hand now. I know how to deal with sleepless nights and early mornings. What I don’t know is what comes next. This next stage, this next season is completely unknown.

So here’s to ending one chapter while taking a peek at the next, because taking each day as it comes is really all we as parents can do.

What emotions did you feel when you found out the vasectomy actually worked? I was totally expecting happiness, but instead I felt the weight from the finality of our decision.

*Photos courtesy of the fabulous Chrissy Walther Photography

The post When the Vasectomy Actually Works appeared first on Jessica Lynn Writes.

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