ARE THE FOODS YOU’RE EATING SLOWLY KILLING YOU? PART 3: Ingredients

Welcome to Part 3…finally! 😉 I know it has been a minute, but if you need a refresher, you can read Part 1 and Part 2 and then come back to read all about ingredients!

So let’s jump right on in! As previously mentioned in my other posts, I don’t read the nutrition label…ever. I ONLY read the ingredients. The ingredient list tells me what my food mostly contains, if it is safe or full of cancer-causing ingredients, if it is clean or full of additives, etc. So what are some ingredients that you want to avoid? Let me start by saying that the ingredients label will now become your best friend. Ingredients are listed from greatest to least, so if an ingredient is first on the list that means it is most prevalent. The ingredients section is so much more important and informative than calorie content or fat content.

There are so many ingredients that can be added to our food and what I am sharing with you today is just some of the big no-nos. This is your basic list and a good starting point. I’ve used research from Vani Hari and the Dirty Dozen List of Food Additives to Avoid to compile this list (please feel free to visit their websites to learn more about any of the ingredients mentioned).

Carrageenan

Carrageenan is a carcinogenic (cancer-causing) ingredient found in most milk substitute products, infant formulas, toothpaste, deli meats, cottage cheeses, some flavored coconut waters, supplements, juice…the list goes on. Even if food is organic, carrageenan can still be in it!! It has been known to cause digestive problems and intestinal inflammation as well. For a detailed shopping list of specific brands to avoid that contain carrageenan and what products to purchase instead, see Cornicopia.org.

Artificial Flavors

Artificial flavors are just that – artificial. They are synthetic flavors made from chemicals. They are used to make fake food taste good. And we are not just talking a single ingredient either. Each “flavor” can contain hundreds of ingredients, including synthetic chemicals, preservatives, and solvents, parabens and more. 

Artificial Sugars & Aspartame

Again, just like artificial flavors, artificial sugars are just that – ARTIFICIAL. Just stay away from anything that says artificial. Artificial sugars stimulate the brain to actually want more sugar! Aspartame is the same way. It has been linked to an increased risk of brain tumors, lymphomas, leukemia, and heart disease. The University of Texas conducted a study that showed replacing sugar with aspartame actually increased hunger and the subjects compensated by eating even more calories…thus not so “diet” anymore, is it? 

BHT & BHA

BHT is a synthetic preservative (you will see a lot of synthetic preservatives in this list). BHT is an endocrine disruptor. BHT in particular has been shown to affect the signaling from the gut to the brain that tells us to stop eating. It has also been linked to cancer in some animal studies. The EWG has listed BHT on their Dirty Dozen List of Foods Additives to avoid, thus stay away! 

BHA, much like BHT, is a synthetic preservative that is also an endocrine disruptor and also linked to cancer. The International Agency for Research on Cancer classifies BHA as “possibly carcinogenic to humans”. SO WHY IS IT IN OUR FOOD? If agencies and food organizations can show that an additive is cancer-causing, how on earth is it still allowed in our foods? More reason to just avoid heavily processed foods whenever possible. 

Canola Oil

Step away from the canola oil! Throw away this highly refined GMO-laden oil! If you are going to make one change in your cooking, make this your thing! Swap canola oil for organic avocado oil or organic grapeseed oil…but please, no more canola! Why you ask? Canola oil goes through a huge amount of processing with chemical solvents before you purchase it. The FDA does not require food manufacturers to test for hexane residue and canola oil is basically bathed in it. Switching to a healthier oil, like avocado oil, is super easy and no one will notice the difference.

Nitrates and Nitrites

Nitrates and nitrites are synthetic preservatives and are commonly found in deli meats. They have been linked to an increased risk of cancer. When purchasing deli meats, make sure it clearly reads ‘No Nitrates’ or ‘Nitrate Free’. Don’t assume “natural” means that it doesn’t have nitrates. Make sure to read the label!

Natural Flavors

Oh those good ol’ “natural” flavors! What are natural flavors? Well, it could literally be anything! Castoreum (or beaver butt excretions) is just one of the ingredients that could be called a “natural flavor.” We’ll never know what natural flavors are because the food companies won’t tell us as they consider this information proprietary.

According to the FDA, natural flavors can include:

“…the essential oil, oleoresin, essence or extractive, protein hydrolysate, distillate, or any product of roasting, heating or enzymolysis, which contains the flavoring constituents derived from a spice, fruit or fruit juice, vegetable or vegetable juice, edible yeast, herb, bark, bud, root, leaf or similar plant material, meat, seafood, poultry, eggs, dairy products, or fermentation products thereof, whose significant function in food is flavoring rather than nutritional” (21CFR101.22).

Soy Protein Isolate

I know! You think you’re doing good buying that protein powder because ‘Soy Protein Isolate’ sounds so much better than others. Let’s first discuss soy. Soy can possibly cause hormonal disruptions because it has estrogen-mimicking properties and in women it can cause an increase in estrogen, thus increasing your risk for PCOS, breast cancer, cervical cancer and other hormonal-imbalance disorders. Soy is also almost always made from GMO soybeans (unless it is certified organic or Non-GMO Project verified). Most soy products are terrible for your health (this includes soy protein and soy milk) because of the phytoestrogens and being genetically modified, however, not all soy is bad. Organic (meaning no chemicals, fertilizers, or pesticides) fermented soy is actually good for you because of the increase of probiotics that occurs when fermented. Organic fermented soy is loaded with Vitamin K2, and probiotics. I personally like tempeh, a fermented soybean cake with a firm texture and nutty, mushroom-like flavor. When marinated, it takes on the flavor of the marinade and tastes delicious!

Stevia Extract 

I know many of you are confused…so let me state there is a difference between WHOLE LEAF stevia and stevia EXTRACT. I am passionate about avoiding stevia extract! If you don’t know if the product you are buying is using the whole leaf or extract, just avoid it. When I was shopping for protein powders, a lot of them list ‘stevia’ as an ingredient and I personally reached out to the representatives of a very large company to see what was being used (the extract or the whole leaf). They couldnt say! They said their information was “proprietary” so telling me if it was the extract or whole leaf I guess means I can basically copy their recipe, right?!

Back to the extract…

The extract is highly processed! We’re talking a 40-step method using chemicals to process the extract from the leaf, chemicals like acetone, methanol, ethanol, and others! And the chemicals they are using are known carcinogens! So again, when purchasing, make sure it says “Whole Leaf Stevia.”


I know this may seem overwhelming and for quite a few of you, shocking. But honestly, if you are eating organic, healthy, fresh food, you don’t have to worry about all those cancer-causing ingredients and additives. And, sadly, the list above is only about ¼ of the ingredients you want to avoid. Those are just some of my top ingredients to avoid, but certainly not all. If you are interested in a more in depth list, check out Food Babe’s list and also the EWG’s Dirty Dozen: Food Additives.


If you are needing a CLEAN plant-based protein powder that doesn’t contain any of those nasty ingredients mentioned above, then check out my girl Vani Hari’s company, Truvani.

I have shared a few recipes on my blog using her protein powder and I seriously LOVE it! It is clean, organic, healthy and tastes delicious! I drink a shake everyday and honestly start panicking when I am nearing the bottom of the bag!

If you want to snag your own Truvani protein powder, click here and save BIG when you sign up for a subscription. While you wait for your order to be delivered, check out my smoothie recipes here:

Vanilla Almond Smoothie

Y’all. This is my new favorite smoothie!! It is so so easy to make and tastes like an almond butter vanilla dessert. I can’t even describe it well because it tastes so dang good! You could easily swap the almond butter for peanut butter or other nut butter of your liking. I used only seven … Read More

My Favorite Chocolate Smoothie Recipe

Since battling Candida and other health issues (which I will address all of this Wednesday), I had to avoid most all fruit (until recently). Which meant I could not have my normal fruit-loaded smoothies. I also struggled to find a protein powder that tasted delicious and was safe for my Candida. That is until Truvani! … Read More

Not Your Traditional Vanilla Latte

I am loving starting my day with a smoothie and having so much fun playing with different smoothie add-ins and options! The other day I was missing coffee…which I haven’t had since November! My husband grinds the beans fresh every morning and the smell of fresh brewed coffee enveloped and consumed me! I decided to … Read More


Sugar-Free Pumpkin Cream Coffee

I was a DIEHARD Starbucks fan and when they released their pumpkin cream cold-brew…I was smitten! Now, I am a hot-coffee fan so the only thing that bugged me was that it was cold…BUT living in Texas, it’s nothing that would deter me from ordering. I LOVED it so much but I haven’t had Starbucks since last November when I found out about a bunch of health issues that my body was fighting. So that meant saying goodbye to my Pink Drink and Pumpkin Cream Cold-Brew. It was a sad day. BUT, my body feels SO much better and I will never go back! So that means that I have to adapt recipes and find stuff that will work for me. Thus, my latest fall coffee recipe was born! This is a hot coffee, with a subtle hint of pumpkin and you can kick it up a notch and make it a bulletproof version!

Without further ado…here is my Pumpkin Cream Coffee!

Ingredients:

Coffee Base

Make your coffee how you like! I prefer using my AeroPress with 1 scoop Four Sigmatic Mushroom Coffee with Lion’s Mane. I fill up my large coffee cup with water and microwave it for 3 minutes. While it is heating up, I add 1 scoop of coffee to my AeroPress and when the water is ready, I pour the water over the coffee grounds. I let sit about 2 minutes, then press it over my coffee cup.

Pumpkin Cream

  • 1/2 cup organic coconut cream or coconut milk (can)
  • 1 tsp organic pumpkin puree
  • 1/8 heaping tsp pumpkin spice
  • OPTIONAL: organic whole-leaf stevia

Using a handheld frother or small blender, froth/mix all ingredients for 1-2 minutes to build air and make the cream super frothy. If you like it sweet, add a drop or two of organic liquid whole-leaf stevia to taste before frothing.

Keto Coffee Additions

  • 1/2 TB organic grass-fed butter
  • 1/2 TB organic coconut oil or MCT oil

If adding the Keto coffee additions, use your frother or blender and mix these ingredients in with your coffee base before pouring over the cream.

Directions:

Once you have all ingredients ready, pour the pumpkin cream over your coffee and enjoy! I like to stir mine all together, but it’s pretty to look at when the cream is separated from the coffee. You could also make this a cold-brew but halving the water used to make your coffee and replacing it with ice. Let it cool a bit. Fill a cup with ice, pour over cooled coffee and top with pumpkin cream.

Did you make this recipe?

Tag #lifestylewithlauren on Instagram!


Truvani is giving away their new ceramic canisters with bamboo lids, FREE with any purchase of any powdered products (plant-based protein or marine collagen), now through September 15th!

Just click this link and get your free ceramic canister to hold your delicious Truvani powders!


Friday Favorites: Children’s Books

In a poll on IG stories I asked what you would rather see…some of my personal favorite chapter books or children’s books and 60% of you wanted to see my top picks for children’s books!

I have included an age-range, up to 6-8 years old, so here are some of my favorite children’s books (and note, these books are great for more than one age group):

Baby to 2 Years:

Ages 2 to 5 Years:

Ages 5 to 8 Years:


There are SO many books that I absolutely love and could seriously write many of blog posts about books. These are just SOME of the many that I love and again, these books are great for all ages and can span age groups.

What are your kiddos favorites? Comment below! Have a wonderful and safe Labor Day weekend!


What’s Up Wednesday – August 2020

It’s my FOURTH What’s Up Wednesday!

I am a week behind! I usually post my What’s Up Wednesday post on the last Wednesday of the month, but gracious! August just snuck past me and we are already in September!! Gracious!

Just to recap, I link up with Mix and Match Mama and share all the things! It’s a little food, a little family, a little what we’re doing, a little what we’re watching and a little bit of everything else, all in one post.

So let’s look at August 2020!

WHAT WE’RE EATING THIS WEEK:

Well, it is Wednesday and we’ve already had the Beach Bum Chili from Earthy Andy‘s exclusive recipe booklet from pre-ordering her new cookbook and it was delicious! It was completely plant-based and full of flavor! I loved it and will definitly make it again!

Monday we had crock-pot chicken and made tacos with them and had leftovers last night. Tonight I am making vegan cauliflower curry soup, which I made before and it is also so full of flavor and ridiculously delicious! Then Thursday we will have black bean burgers with sweet potato fries and leftovers on Friday…then meal planning all over again on Saturday!

I have also been on a little coconut yogurt kick for breakfast. I am loving starting my morning with a hot cup of mushroom coffee, then a few hours later I eat a very small bowl of plain coconut yogurt, topped with hemp seeds, coconut flakes, a few organic raspberries and walnuts. Then I make my smoothie for lunch or a raw salad, have a snack and then dinner is whatever I plan for the week.

WHAT I’M REMINISCING ABOUT:

I am already missing summer! How is that possible?! I feel like even though we went on the boat a TON this summer, it just wasn’t enough! And all of a sudden, we go from 105 degrees, to fall. In a week.

Seriously…Monday it was 105 and next week well be in the 70s and 80s. Goodbye, summer! We will miss you!

WHAT I’M LOVING:

I got a new planner and folio and LOVING it! I need seriously organization and my Plum Paper organizer helps SO much!

WHAT WE’VE BEEN UP TO:

A lot actually! We started week NINE of homeschool and I posted an update Monday, I’m a busy working momma now and I absolutely LOVE it! I love being an editor at Frisco STYLE Magazine! Everyone is super nice and like family already! My first issue as editor just came out and it is so rewarding to see it and read it and hold it in my hands! I am so thankful that God has given me this opportunity and I do not take it for granted for one minute!

WHAT I’M DREADING:

Hmmm….this one stumps me almost every month. I honestly don’t know what I am dreading. I am just thankful and feel grateful for every day that the Lord has given me.

WHAT I’M WORKING ON:

LOTS! Haha!

We are all hard at work crafting the October’s FSM issue, getting things set up with the photographer, getting articles in and editing, as well as writing one myself. I have started a new Bible study and hoping to get the book SOON so I can start working on it, I planted our fall veggies in our garden earlier this week, and just busy doing the regular day-to-day mom stuff + homeschooling!

WHAT I’M EXCITED ABOUT:

October is going to be a great issue and I cant wait to see it all come together!

We have booked a VRBO for Tennessee and I CANNOT WAIT to hike with my boys and be outside in nature, sitting on this patio, watching the sunrise and sunsets. I am so exited!!

WHAT I’M WATCHING/READING:

We have started watching The Umbrella Academy and y’all…it’s different! It’s weird but interesting and I just cant stop watching. If you like SciFi, mystery, Marvel-type superpowers, then you’ll love it!

I am also all caught up on the Housewives, so there’s that! 😉

I am sooo behind on my reading, but working on My Dearest Hamilton as well as listening to No Easy Day on Audible. I will finish one day, but right now I am finding my groove with everything going on and leisure reading really isn’t at the top of my to-do list at the moment.

WHAT I’M LISTENING TO:

During my morning walks, I am listening to the Bible App – the one year plan and enjoying listening to the NLT version. I am still rocking out to the Hamilton soundtrack while I cook and I ask Alexa to play Hillsong a lot.

WHAT I’M WEARING:

I have fallen in love with the magnetic eyelashes and I just cannot get enough! These KISS brand ones are so amazing, so easy to wear and apply and just so fast! I used to spend way too long applying mascara over and over, trying to get length and thickness…no more! Just a swipe of magnetic eyeliner and voila! IN LOVE!

WHAT I’M DOING THIS WEEKEND:

It’s Labor Day weekend…so that mean another weekend on the boat! We are actually going Friday afternoon instead of Sat/Sun/Mon because it gets pretty crazy out there on the holidays, so we will enjoy it the day before.

WHAT I’M LOOKING FORWARD TO NEXT MONTH:

Like I shared above, we will be going to Tennessee for the first time and I am so exited and looking forward to all the tree-hugging adventures! Please comment below your MUST-SEE places in Tennessee around Pigeon Forge area.

WHAT ELSE IS NEW:

Not much else! We have a few house reno stuff we are chatting about but otherwise just getting into the groove of being a FT working homeschooling momma!


August is in the books! How was your August? Share below!

Have a blessed rest of your week/month and make sure to come back on Friday to read my latest Friday Favorites!


Homeschool Update: 8-Week Check-in

We’ve been homeschooling for eight weeks now and thought I would post an update on how things are going.

A little preschool work for our youngest and our oldest working on math from Math-U-See

I am absolutely LOVING homeschooling and very pleased with our decision to homeschool this year. I think I might have picked a curriculum level too low for our son so I might adjust that next year, but we’ll see as we continue these next few weeks.

Blindfolded taste-testing game!

To be honest, this past week was full of events that we somewhat neglected our homeschool work and played “catch-up” on Friday. However, usually we only do school Monday-Thrusday. I aim to start our day around 9:30am and we get through all the subjects by lunchtime, with two breaks in between (after history and language arts).

I literally go straight through the curriculum exactly how it is listed…Bible first, followed by history then read-alouds. We are finishing up the previous book from last week, Homer Price, and will start Catching Their Talk in a Box next week, so we are behind with the read-aloud chapter book but will catch-up eventually. I will say, Homer Price is NOT my favorite book and I wish I would’ve pre-read it…I would have skipped it all together. To me it’s just a fluff chapter book with no life lessons to be learned or any depth. So not my favorite.

At the back of the curriculum, there are two sections with additional materials for the year, with one of the sections containing questions for each read aloud as well as questions for the I Can Read It! books (mentioned below). I pull those pages that I need from the back section and stick them in with that weeks work, just so I don’t have to flip back and forth as much.

After a quick break, we move into Language Arts, with spelling, phonics, handwriting, reading, and creative writing/copy-work. I bought a spiral notebook for word work and that is where my son writes all of his spelling words and his spelling test on Day 4 (for us it is usually Thursday). I would absolutely get the option Explode the Code workbooks! Don’t skip that as that is where a lot of the application, phonics, and spelling practice comes in.

We watched caterpillars turn into butterflies and it just so happened that our poetry book had poems that went right along with what we were doing, on the day the butterflies emerged!

Again, we do a quick break to get some wiggles out and so I can gather the next subjects materials, which is science and math. I play ‘Eye of the Tiger’ on our Echo Dot to get my kiddo back to the table to start our next subject and it really helps him to know its time to start back again and I don’t have to yell at him to come back. It is a nice transition and allows him time to wrap up what he is doing…he has until the end of the song to be back at the table and it works like a charm for us!

This week, with everything I had going on, we didn’t get to do the science experiment (on Day 4) but we will do it Monday to make up for the missed day. I also bought another spiral notebook for science experiments and we use that to write down observations and data.

I LOVE the science books and activities and so does my son! The Usborne books are so wonderful and the questions that my son completes are so good! Right now we are looking at Africa and he had to color in the continent on the map and make color in a separate map of Africa and table the different parts (like desert) and identify which animals live in that region. So far he has completed South America, North America, and now we are on Africa.

After science we complete the ‘Math-U-See’ math work and then we are done! I really don’t have a ton of feelings about ‘Math-U-See.’ It is fine for us and my son hasn’t been that challenged yet by it, but I don’t NOT like it, I just don’t really care either way. I have heard really great things about The Good and the Beautiful math curriculum so that might be something I look into for next year but I’ll try a free sample first before deciding.

My youngest LOVES working with his big brother and he really loves tracing these letter cards. I found them here and shrinked the printing size down to get four on one page, laminated them, cut them out, and voila! My kiddo uses a dry erase marker to trace and loves it!

Well that is a little reacap of homeschooling! What questions do you have regarding homeschooling, the curriculum, how we go through our day, etc? Post them below or on my Instagram. I will have a question sticker on my Instagram stories TODAY so you can leave your questions there, too!

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Life Lately

Life has certainly been exciting these last few weeks, from accepting a new position as editor at Frisco STYLE Magazine, to other *possible* house reno stuff, as well as booking a little getaway, continuing homeschool (we’re starting week 8 today!), watching butterflies hatch…and so much more!

I shared how Target was having a sale on their Paw Patrol toys so I went ahead and bought the new Paw Patrol dinosaur toy for my Paw Patrol enthusiasts November birthday. Y’all…this is the box it came in! It came two weeks ago and I haven’t opened it yet. I loathe big toys. I knew it would be kind of big…but this box…ugh. Haha! Anyway, my little one will absolutely LOVE it and I am looking forward to his excitement when he opens it…but…yeah…it’s big.

Speaking of our Paw Patrol enthusiast, he was working hard this week tracing his letters and doing a great job! He loves to do schoolwork alongside his Bubbie!

And our other son turned into an eagle, haha! He is so creative and makes ALL sorts of things out of paper (and if anyone EVER wants to send us a truckload of tape and printer paper, I’ll send you our address ;)). This day, after watching Wild Kratts, he decided to make a creature disc and turned himself into a Bald Eagle. He’s so creative!

Lake life!

We went on the lake last weekend and the water was so calm and pretty! We anchored down by this little cliff spot and the boys loved swimming back and forth to land and back to the boat. We grilled hotdogs and enjoyed the day!

Our butterflies finally emerged last week! My boys were so exited and kept watching ALL day to witness them come out of their chrysalis. Two emerged without us watching, one we caught the end of it, and the last one we were able to see it completely from beginning to end and it was the COOLEST! We will definitely do this again!

And it just so happened that the same day we were instructed to read a poem from one of the books in our curriculum about butterflies!

And we celebrated my hubby’s birthday!! If you didn’t catch my love story post, you can read it here, but we celebrated the way I know best…with food! I love cooking and baking and so he got to choose what he wanted for breakfast…and he picked French toast! So had to make it special and put it on our red plate, plus a bit of dusting of powder sugar. Then I bought a special Tres Leches cake and they boys enjoyed that after dinner!

For school, Troy had to make a 3D replica of the Sonoran dessert, and here was his work! He made animals on the red construction paper, a green cactus held up with a toilet paper roll, and used quinoa for the dirt. So clever!

And to end this week, he also made a bird feeder from a kit from Hobby Lobby! Love it! He also painted it and it is now hanging outside our window, filled with bird seed.

Well that’s it for a little recap of life lately! What have you all been up to?

Also, how can I pray for you this week/month? Please feel free to message me or comment below and I will pray for you!

I’ll see you all back here Wednesday! Have a blessed start of your week!


My Lobster

“As the Scriptures say, “A man leaves his father and mother and is joined to his wife, and the two are united into one.””

– Ephesians 5:31 NLT

Any ‘Friends’ fans here? ‘The One With the Prom Video’ is one of my favorites, because as Ross is airing his frustrations about taking messages for Rachel’s suitors, Phoebe unassumingly tells Ross that Rachel is his lobster and not to worry. She continues with how lobsters fall in love and mate for life. Well, I met my “lobster” in 2006.

I was still in college but living in my own apartment and trying to get away from the party life that I was living. The only way I met guys in our college town was by going to bars and clubs and I didn’t want to do that anymore. There had to be another way to meet guys, to meet THE guy…but I just didn’t know how or where. I felt God’s prompting and leading. It was new and different, and I was hesitant, but thankfully I listened. I signed up for Match.com…of all places! I wanted to meet a decent guy, not a party guy.

Those who listen to instruction will prosper; those who trust the LORD will be joyful. 

– Proverbs 16:20 NLT

Signing up for Match.com was scary and exciting all at the same time…but I am smiling because it led me to my husband. My Stephen. My lobster. God was working and there is NO DOUBT that His hand was in this. 

Apparently we both signed up for Match.com within a week or two of each other. I think it was around the start of the year when we both signed up. This was back in 2006. I found his profile and sent him a “wink”. I still deny that I initiated our relationship…but Stephen pulled an old email that showed a notification where I, in fact, winked at him first. 

So after the initial wink, we chatted for a bit and we set up our first date for Valentine’s Day of 2006. However, I unfortunately had to cancel. Stephen still won’t let me hear the end of that! But let me clear the air…I was babysitting pretty regularly for a family and that was how I made ends meet in college. I babysat ALL THE TIME and I loved it! Well, this family that I was a nanny for asked me to babysit and I could not turn it down. It was money and I needed it! And it was GOOD money! They always overpaid me and were the sweetest ever and the kids were awesome! So I called Stephen to let him know that I couldn’t go out for Valentines Day and he was ok with it (but apparently not for how much he still hassles me about it! Haha!). 

The first picture we took together in March 2006

So we moved our first date to the following Saturday and we met up at Johnny Carino’s, an Italian restaurant in Denton. I was super nervous to meet him and I felt so awkward. We met inside the breezeway of the restaurant and got seated. I was automatically enamored with Stephen. He was so cute and so sweet and had a very quiet personality, which I liked. I excused myself to the restroom at one point and called my sweet friend, Shauna, and told her how much I liked him. I think I even told her that he was THE ONE! Y’all, I was smitten! I was smiling from ear to ear and could not hide how much I liked him. 

Well, there is no way to say this than to just say it, but I had a date after this date. Yup. Back to back dates. I mean, I was on Match.com and trying to find THE ONE so I had to make the most of my time! 

I remember wanting to cancel that other date so badly but there was just no way I could and I didn’t want to be rude and stand the guy up. My date with Stephen was ending and the other date with the other guy was taking place in an hour. So I graciously thanked Stephen for a wonderful dinner and evening and was overjoyed. I was practically skipping to my car. I really liked this guy. But now I had to go meet this other guy, whom I knew in my heart of hearts was not the one even before I met him. But onward I went on to the other date…at a bar for drinks. I should have known better. His profile picture was cute and we chatted a bit and he was nice, so I went along with his idea to meet at a bar for drinks. Old habits die hard. 

From our first camping trip together to Possum Kingdom Lake

As soon as we sat down, he opened his mouth and the rudest, crudest comments came flying out. I was disgusted and over it before I even had my first drink. I continued to sit there, trying not to be rude, and sipped my drink thinking about Stephen. I joke that this date just made Stephen that much more desirable!

Well, after that date ended, I went home and all I could think about was Stephen. We made plans for a second date, and then a third, and so on. After a few months, we were exclusive. About a year into our dating, we moved in together, to some dismay from loved ones. Now as a parent, I get it. At the time, I didn’t understand, but I was also not a Christian. To us, living together was not that big of a deal. We didn’t care, just thought of it logically. We felt like we had valid reasons for moving in together. My student teaching was about to go full-time and I would be just miles from his house working with middle school students, so living together made sense. We were already always together and there was no point in spending money on an apartment if I wasn’t going to be there…so we moved in together. I paid Stephen rent and helped out with some other stuff here and there, so I wasn’t just freeloading off of him.

Thankfully it worked out for us. 

I graduated from college, got a great job teaching reading and writing, and in 2008, Stephen proposed! 

He was out of town for two weeks for a work trip in China and missed my birthday, so when he got home he took me out to celebrate. I remember getting ready and thinking Stephen was acting odd because he was taking pictures of me while I was curling my hair. After I was ready, he took me to the living room to give me my gift. As I unwrapped it, I noticed it was a clipboard. Honestly, at first I was kind of disappointed. I mean, a clipboard…for my birthday?! But then I flipped it around and on the back, written across the bottom were the words “Mrs. Greci.” After I saw that, it was such a blur! I remember Stephen getting down on one knew and telling me such sweet words, and I just wanted to scream out “YES!” the whole time! He finally got to the part where he asked me to marry him and of course I said yes! 🙂

After he proposed, we went to Rick’s Chophouse in downtown McKinney, which, by the way, has THE BEST steaks in the area! We had the ‘Porterhouse for Two’, followed by a dessert gifted to us by the restaurant with “Congratulations” written on the plate in chocolate syrup. Then, to top off the night, as we were leaving there was a horse-drawn carriage outside the restaurant, which is not unusual because they do tours around the area. I LOVE horses and always wanted to take a horse-drawn carriage ride before. Stephen sensed my excitement and we went for a ride around the square. We rode around McKinney, bundled up, in love, and excited for the future. Two newly engaged, eager, young adults ready to tackle anything!

The night Stephen proposed: November 1, 2006
Celebrating our 10-year anniversary at the same place Stephen proposed

And today, my sweet husband turns another year older. As we both get closer to entering a new decade, I am so thankful to have him by my side during all of it. He is the best friend and husband that I could ever have asked for.

2020 is definitely a year that we will never forget, but I also never want to forget our love story. So as I wish my husband a very happy 39th birthday, I am also reminded how each day is so special and worthwhile. I am so lucky to have you, Stephen. You are my lobster!


Morning Routine

I am a morning person! I literally get out of bed and put on my workout clothes and go for a walk…all within 10 minutes of waking up. I can get up and go! Do I always want to, no 😉 I do have some days where I just want to lay in bed and be lazy, but most days (especially weekdays), I am ready to get up and get going.

I NEED to be better about setting my alarm clock so I can get some stuff done before the kids get up, but when I DO set my alarm, I get dressed in workout clothes and go sit at the computer to get some work done for the magazine. Then when our youngest gets up at 6:30am, I get him situated with a snack and I go for my morning walk.

When I come back from my walk, I change clothes, wash my face (you can read about my cleaning routine here), brew some Four Sigmatic mushroom coffee in the AeroPress and start working on breakfast for the boys as well as clean the kitchen and tidy up a bit.

Sometimes after breakfast, the boys and I go on a morning bike ride and I let them play in the field close to our home…nice way to get some wiggles out first thing! 😉

After a bit more cleaning and picking up around the house or getting laundry going, we start school. Usually it is around 9/9:30am when we start. Troy and I always start with our Write the Word journal entries, which helps us to quiet our thoughts and get ready for the school day.

We are LOVING Sonlight’s curriculum and I literally just follow the schedule that they have created in their lesson plans. Like I said, we don’t have a specific start time, but our flow is the same all school day. After we complete our Write the Word journals, we dive into the Bible lesson, followed by history, then a quick break to play while I get the next subject ready. Then we work on word work, language arts and reading, followed by another break, then science and math.

Then it is lunchtime!

Our morning goes by really fast! By lunch, we are done with school, already got most of our chores complete, and got some movement in by either walking or a bike ride.

Come back next week to see what my afternoon/evening routine looks like!

How are your mornings? Are you a morning person or a night owl? Share below!

Till next time!


You Are So Priceless

“Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own? For you have been bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body.” – 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 (NASB)

Glorify God in your body.

Did I do that as a teen? Nope. Do I do it as a grown woman? No again. I am definitely better at treating my body like the holy temple it is, that God has created. I tell myself often that I was given this one body and I am to take care of it. I have learned so much through the years and most definitely do a better job eating and watching what ingredients I am putting in my body than in the past. Now I know to avoid carrageenan, because it is a cancer-causing ingredient. I personally avoid “natural flavors” because that could still be a slew of chemically processed ingredients. For the most part I avoid things that are fake or processed. But do I do it all the time? No. But now that I am aware of these bad things, I slow down my consumption of them or avoid them all together. 

That was not the case when I was younger.

I was naive.

I was more concerned with being thin. And to me, being thin meant I was fitting in and accepted.

I didn’t care that I was putting my body through hell. I didn’t think that there would be consequences to my actions. 

Boy was I wrong. 

Growing up, being “thin” was all there was to be. The household I grew up in was a very critical household, especially when it came to weight. I would like to give my parents grace here because I feel that they honestly didn’t know better and didn’t realize how often they judged others based on their weight…or how often I noticed it. I think when they were growing up, they witnessed the same thing and it just tricked down because that is all they knew. So I am trying to give grace. Does that change the perception I had of myself? Absolutely not. I did not know God like I know Him now. Don’t get me wrong, I went to church and was aware of Him, but I didn’t KNOW Him. My value was in other people. Not in Him. And to be totally honest, I still struggle a bit with this (I mean, I am a 2w3 on the Enneagram, y’all).

I have mentioned in previous posts about taking diet pills when I was a senior in high school. Well, it wasn’t enough. I started watching my calorie intake. And by watching, I mean severely limiting my calorie intake and writing down everything I ate. I was only consuming 1,000 calories a day and was always counting. I could still tell you how many calories a banana has. Or an apple. But thankfully not much more. I use to be able to count it in my head because it was all I saw in food. I didn’t see the value of food. I only saw calories. 

One night, I exceeded my self-induced calorie allotment for that day and I felt guilty. I felt miserable and shameful. So I purged. I made myself throw up. I remember crying and feeling horrible for what I did, but at the same time I felt justified because I went over my calorie allotment so I needed to take care of it. 

It is very hard to write that.

The girl I was at that time is not the same woman that is sitting here typing this today. She was insecure, lost, searching for worth in the wrong places and never feeling satisfied or content. I was miserable. Now, I know my worth cannot be found in men or in my body or how I look. My worth is found in God. I have a peace that is incredible. I am content. I am happy. Even though I am chasing after children and cooking and cleaning and keeping up our home, I feel at rest. I am not constantly chasing after something that cannot be obtained. I am loved by God. And more importantly, I am forgiven by God. I use to have shame for my sins and my old self. But I am free from that shame now. I still feel guilty occasionally, but I fell that that is good. It is the Holy Spirit nudging me letting me know that what I say or do is wrong and so I stop and repent. I am still a sinner. And I will always be a sinner. I will always fall short of the glory of God. But I am forgiven and loved and made new everyday. I get a fresh start everyday to be a better mother, a better wife, a better example of God’s love and grace and mercy. 

Once I made myself throw up for the first time, that was all it took. Anytime I overate, or indulged in a “bad” food, I would just throw it up. Y’all, it was gross. Not going to lie. It was a very gross thing to do and it wrecked my body.

My mom was bulimic, too. I learned about her bulimia sometime in high school or right after college. I don’t know if that is how the idea was implanted in my head or what, but the first time I threw up I was missing my mom terribly and I remember feeling a connection to her, even though she was not here. It was a very odd and weird feeling. Like by throwing up, I was with her and felt her. I think part of me was longing for her and by throwing up I was like her and wanted her with me.

My bulimia continued for a few years and eventually told my soon-to-be husband, Stephen, about it. That was a very hard, emotional conversation for me. Here is this man that God has given me, who is handsome and strong and smart, and I felt very insecure and ashamed. What if I tell him this secret and he breaks up with me? What if he laughs at me? What if he now watches everything I eat and then pays attention to me going to the bathroom? 

I didn’t want to worry him but I also knew that I needed to tell him and get help. Stephen was the sweetest, of course. Just talking to him helped me so much. It helped me to break free from the secrets and feel like I could move on. I brought the dark to the light and felt so much relief!

The last time I threw up was the night before my college graduation. I remember feeling like I needed to be “thin” for the next day and told myself that that would be the last time. I look at my college graduation pictures and can see the pain in my eyes. I look like a completely different person now. I had a college graduation party and the pictures just get me every time. I can see into my soul with those pictures and see how tortured I was by my weight, and my self-confidence was at a record low. I was determined after I graduated to never do it again.

And I haven’t since. 

After a couple of months of healing and learning how to eat without thinking about calories and wanting to purge, I bought a book about eating clean. It was a game changer. I learned how to eat, what to eat, and how to live a healthy lifestyle. I don’t count calories. I don’t obsess over food. I eat fresh, organic foods and avoid processed foods as much as possible. I don’t drink sodas or juice. When I want a treat, I make one and enjoy it! I want my boys to live a healthy life as well. I feed them the same good foods that I eat and I am cautious about my words. I don’t want my boys to grow up in a house that focuses on the body. I want our boys to know God. To know that they are fearfully and wonderfully made and that they are perfect in God’s image.

Be kind to your body.

You get only one.

If you or someone you know is struggling with food issues, please help them! Find a Christian counselor, a pastor, a friend that can help them get the help that they need. Be kind and don’t negate their feelings. What they feel is real.

I am always here to lend a listening ear and I hope that my story helps heal those that are also suffering. Know that you are strong. You are worthy. God made YOU. And YOU are loved!