A Breakfast Favorite

I have spent a lifetime denying the fact that I am in a morning person. Do I enjoy getting up early? Do I naturally wake up with the sunrise? Am a perky and happy like a Disney Princess in the mornings? All of these are no. The problem is, once I get up and get moving, I am the most productive in the morning hours. Come 1:00 PM, I naturally slow and productivity stops. I enjoy staying up late and watching movies or reading, but I am absolutely not productive in any way shape or form.

Once I learned this about myself, I started shifting our days to morning heavy. Appointments for doctors, play dates, and errands all fall first thing in the morning when I know that I am at my best. This means of course that mornings are very rushed typically. My kids are early risers, but they do NOT like to be hurried in the morning. This means I need to get creative with my approach to mornings in attempts to avoid the meltdowns that are all too common with a 3, 4, and 5 year old (plus bonus 2 year old with babysitting).

One of my solutions is quick and easy breakfasts that can be made in advance. This takes the guess work out of what we are eating and it saves us some serious time. Enter Oat Banana Muffins! I would love to take credit for this recipe, but it was a Pinterest find. I have been known to let my bananas get too ripe for these exact muffins.

I have made these several times with multiple modifications and they come out great each and every time. Don’t have any coconut on hand? Skip it! Think this would taste great with honey instead of maple syrup? Go for it. Want to add extra protein? Go ahead and add an extra egg or even protein powder of your choosing. It really is that flexible of a recipe. The only change I consistently make is cooking it for significantly longer than recommended (5+ minutes more) because I prefer them a little more brown on top.

These are a hit with the kiddos and adults alike. The best part is, they freeze phenomenally! I hope you make them soon and that they help make your mornings just a little smoother.

My Approach to Summer Break

As someone who likes to have a plan and a schedule for the day, the idea of summer break and induce some serious anxiety. It isn’t that I don’t love the time with my kids because I truly do. It is that 12 weeks off our routine is just a lot for me to wrap my mind around.

In response to this, I developed theme days for our summer! They are flexible and very loose structured, but they gave me something to count on week by week to entertain the kids and myself. They are basic and self explanatory which is exactly what I need!

Make It Monday– Craft time essentially! I am many things as a mother, but crafty isn’t typically one of them. This is my one day that I push myself out of my comfort zone and plan a craft with the kids. The key here also is it keeps us at home for the day and therefore is a great day to catch up on any extra household tasks!

Learning Tuesday– This is the day I try to be extra intentional with the educational activities. It is also the day our local library typically does a themed story time and so we almost always hit that up. I am all for outsourcing when I can.

Water Wednesday– This couldn’t be simpler. We play with water! This could be me filling up the water table, running to the nearest splash pad, or swimming. We really focus on trying to beat the heat and cool off outdoors today!

Movie Thursday– Our local theater offers a summer movie program. For $7, I can get a pass that includes 10 movies shown over the course of the summer. They are older kids movies that are already on video, but you can’t beat it. It is a great way to kill a few hours in some AC! Plus, its a bit of a mental break for me.

Foodie Friday– My name is Renee and I am a control freak. This totally extends to the kitchen and letting my kids help. I suppress my urges to kick everyone out and do it myself though and actually cook with my kids on Friday. They pick the dish and we get to work. We started small with smoothies and have worked our way up to caramel apple pie this week! I consider this almost more of an accomplishment for me than the kids.

I Make Great Life Decisions

For nearly as long as I can remember, I have been a goal setter. For also as long as I can remember, I have lost focus on these goals and found new ones without ever completing the original. Don’t let this fool you into thinking I am not accomplished. Not to toot my own horn, but I have done a lot in my years on this planet that I am incredibly proud of, but most of them have been me rising to a challenge or dealing with life as it comes at me. Then last November started.

Like most of the planet, I read Girl, Wash Your Face by Rachel Hollis. This book tends to create a strong reaction in people. You either cannot stand it and disagree with so much of what she says, or you absolutely love it and you become incredibly inspired. I was the latter. Like hardcore. I fell in love with this book. It was so many things for me. She spoke my language of goal setting, but she also was real. She was apologetically real and told it like it is. That is not for everyone and that is fine. That could be why there are a million self help books out there. One book is not going to be the book for everyone. This book though… this was for me.

Well I blame this book for where I am right now. Where am I you ask? I am in the middle of summer, in Phoenix, Arizona, training for my first half marathon. It is hotter than the surface of the sun (even at 5am) and I am lacing up my running shoes.

When I set the goal in January to run 13.1 miles this fall, what was I thinking? Was I in relatively good health and wanted a challenge? Had I been running for years and needed to take things to the next level? Was this a lifelong dream I had been chasing? No. No to all of that. What I was is a 31 year old Mom of 3 who was about 50 pounds overweight if I am being honest with myself. I wasn’t working out and I definitely wasn’t running. I was never drinking enough water and had an absolutely horrible diet. Running a half marathon was probably the last thing that should be on my mind. So logically I made it my goal for 2019.

A full update and my 5 tips for how I have made running a habit I don’t hate are coming soon!

Reflecting on 30

As my birthday approaches, I naturally find myself reflecting on the last year of life. It was a big one. I turned the dreaded 30! Truth be told, I never found thirty to be a big deal for myself personally. I have always felt older than I was and so I finally feel my age is catching up to where I am mentally. What I didn’t expect is what a monumental year it would be for me.


What I am discovering in my reflection though is that thirty has been the absolute best year of my life. Not in the obligated “it just keeps getting better” thought process, but in true personal growth.  While thirty was by no means cupcakes and rainbows (in fact it was filled with a lot of struggles), I find myself in a place where I can say without a doubt, I am happier than I have ever been…. even if I have a LOT more gray hair than I started the year with. Seriously though, how is it fair that I am going THIS gray this young. Not fair! 

Thirty was the age where I finally felt in the position to focus on what I wanted for not only myself, but my family. I stopped caring so much about the pressures of what we should do or what others think is best. I took control over MY life.

I decided that while foster care was the best thing to ever happen to us, it wasn’t what defined us as a family. I couldn’t look in the mirror and honestly say I wanted to do this for the rest of my life. I knew that we did great work for that season of life, but that season was coming to an end. We adopted Moose and closed the next day. That was the single greatest highlight of my year. I had my forever family and was able to end foster care on my terms with the love and support of all those who mattered most.

I gained self confidence in the person that I am. I learned to stop fearing judgement from others on my body, my social media addiction love, and the odd things that make me me. Instead I embraced those things. While I still strive to make a balance between health and living life, I learned to love the body I am in now. I learned that while social media can be a great outlet for everyday life, it can also be a platform to spread good and even a small side gig. I realized my husband and kids think I am the coolest person alive and at the end of the day, what more can I want?

I also made steps to cut out all that didn’t fill up my cup. Some of that was “friendships” and some of that was commitments. What I realized is that in cutting these things out, I didn’t miss them one bit. I had been holding on to things that were only taking and in hindsight, it was crazy!

What I want to leave you with is this; if you haven’t experienced a year of your life like this, I pray that you do… and soon! I wish I had found this ownership of life in my 20’s, but that just isn’t how things worked out. If you are someone who is dreading the next decade of life, embrace it. I can only hope that thirty one continues this journey.

A Simple Kind of Love- Dutch Bros

They say to write what you know. What I know is that I am in love with a way of life I like to call Dutch Bros. You see, it is more than just a coffee shop (spoiler alert: I don’t even drink coffee and have no plans of starting). Dutch Bros is where you go when you need a pick me up, are having a good day, need an attitude adjustment, or have 20 minutes to spare.

You see, this all started with my strong strong dislike of coffee. My whole life people have told me that I would learn to love coffee when I went to college. Nope. When I had to get up early for work I would enjoy that cup of joe. Nope. When I had kids and learned what real sleep deprivation looked like, I would need it to survive. Nope. Y’all are wrong. You can’t learn to like grossness. What I did enjoy the occasional indulgence in… energy drinks. 20160323_112827

That sickeningly sweet nectar that is oh so bad for you… gimme gimme. If you came here for advice on clean eating for your family or getting through that mid-day slump naturally, I am going to fail you big time. My secret to life is the occasional energy drink and I don’t even feel a tiny bit bad about that. #sorrynotsorry

Here is where Dutch Bros comes in. They make their own energy drink called a Rebel! The best part is, you can flavor it however your hearts desires. My drink changes weekly if not monthly, but some of my favorites include Marmalade (Strawberry, Orange, Grapefruit), OG Gummy Bear (Pomegranate, Passion Fruit, Watermelon, Grapefruit), Ray of Sunshine (Blackberry, Peach, Grapefruit), and Vampire Slayer (Strawberry, Pomegranate). The best way to order these you ask? Always a large and always iced. If you are feeling extra fancy, add some Shine (edible shimmer).

Here is the thing though, Dutch Bros isn’t just about the drinks. It is about relationships and being a place of joy in a world of yuck. Whether you are a newbie or come every week, they welcome you with open arms. They ask about your day. They ask my kids how they are. They have meaningful conversation and do it with customer service that blows my mind. They make it their job to make sure your day is better than when you pulled up. They have laughed with me, PRAYED with me, made my kids tantrum stop with whip cream on a straw, and had deep conversations about life with me… all in a drive thru.



On top of great drinks that keep me going and unmatched experience, they give back… in a BIG WAY! Like $1.3 MILLION dollars for Muscular Dystrophy, $7,300 in Twin Falls for Relay for Life, $8,650 for the families of teens killed in an accident in Eagle Point, and $5,900 to Animal Help Alliance in Las Vegas. This is just a few of the amazing things they are doing for our communities. IMG_2242

Why on earth am I signing the praises of a coffee shop? Did they give me a lifetime supply of Rebels or something? Cash money? While I would gladly accept all of those things, no. This is 100% sponsored. They have no idea who I am… well maybe some of my regular baristas at the Surprise location do (or more likely the annoying mom with the van full of babies). I am doing this because these are the type of companies that not only do I like to give my money to, I like to share so that others can do the same. I know you have a lot of options for coffee shops, but does yours make you want to write a love story to them in your free time?


P.S. It should be noted for all you strange coffee loving folks, they have that too. My husband and sister are big fans of several of their coffee drinks.

P.S.S. They now have lemonade and it is absolutely delicious and 100% worth the trip for these hot summer days. I hope they never take it off the menu!


Life Update- June 2018

So it seems odd to be doing a life update considering I have only done a single post on the blog, but I feel like it is as good of a place as any.

Chances are that if you are reading this, you found me on Instagram and therefore already know at least something about me. If you didn’t and fell down the rabbit hole known as the internet and landed here, welcome! This post should at least give you a little context for what you have stumbled across.

So we are now legally a family of 5! March 1st we finalized the adoption of our baby Moose (who is actually 2, but I am calling him my baby until he is 45). It was quick as far as these things go with termination in mid-October. It still felt like a lifetime of course.

It was by far our most casual adoption, which felt very therapeutic. After years of formality, we let our hair down and celebrated the end. We wore matching baseball shirts and jeans and went to breakfast and ate cake! It was a great day.

We then woke up March 2nd and officially closed our foster license. I plan to write a lot on this topic, but honestly… 3 months later and I can’t even fully pull my thoughts together.

Since then we have been living a life FREE. A life without home visits, without permission to travel, without visitation, and without all the rules we have lived our life by for nearly 5 years. We have never been just parents before this since we entered parenthood as foster parents and we are loving the new-found freedom.

The kids all finished school in May and so we are officially on summer time. This is my first summer after having kids in school and to be honest, I was kind of dreading it. Spring break and winter break were a bit of a nightmare around here without the routine, but summer hasn’t been that way at all. In fact, I am loving it! The loose schedule of the summer is exactly what the doctor ordered.

This summer I am also going to be planning for our first year of HOMESCHOOLING! It is only Pre-K, but still a very important year to me. Tink and Moose will be at our local school in the developmental preschool program, and Oz will be at home with me full-time. I am very cautiously excited for this upcoming school year and what it will being for not only Oz, but the whole family.

That is about all for now. I hope it won’t be another couple of months before you hear from me again, but I have learned to make no guarantees at this point in life.



Where It All Began



The story of why we decided to do foster care isn’t really anything remarkable. When you know you want a family and biologically that isn’t an option, you start making other plans. Foster care came up, and I signed us up for an orientation to get the basics. I told you… unremarkable. The story of our licensing process though, now that is something to tell you about.

We started the foster process like most young parents, completely clueless. We had horribly unrealistic expectations, and as a result dove head first, into a world we were very ill-prepared for. All of this doesn’t make for great long-term success.

I mentioned above that as soon as the idea of foster care was brought up (let the record show it was my husband that brought it up), I wasted no time in signing us up for orientation. From orientation, I immediately picked an agency and began our mountains of paperwork and PS-MAPP classes.

What is PS-MAPP? Partnering for Safety and Permanency- Model Approach to Partnerships in Parenting… said no one ever. Literally, I had to Google it because I don’t remember ever being told what it stood for. This is probably something I should have asked at some point… It is a 30-hour program that all foster parents in Arizona are required to complete prior to licensing.

To say PS-MAPP was intense would be an understatement. You do group activities and homework and discussions about children you may encounter in care. You hear the horror stories of the extreme situations that foster parents have found themselves in. They walk you through how insane your life is about to become (they don’t even scratch the surface).

Mark and I sat through this class for 10 weeks straight, finished all of our paperwork, and in the end, we said, “No thank you”. We decided that is was absolutely not for us and that perhaps we should continue to save up for more fertility treatments or accept the fact that we may never have children. Considering how badly I wanted a family, this was a huge deal.

We settled into our new “child-free” way of life. Even if we did return to fertility treatments, we needed to save for a few years and so we moved out of our beautiful 3 bedroom home for this funky 1 bedroom townhouse. We made the decision that we were going to embrace our youth and our 20’s and worry about a family down the road.

This would be the point that God laughed at us. I think in my memories of this time, I can almost hear the chuckles. Things moved pretty quickly from this point.

After church one Sunday shortly after our move, we decided to go out to lunch. This is when we ran into a couple that we went through PS-MAPP with us. We had really bonded with this couple and I was so happy to see them. Not only was it them, but their beautiful foster baby. We sat and ate with them and they shared their experiences so far. They shared how sad they were to see us decided to walk away from fostering. I sat holding that baby boy the entire meal.

On the car ride home, Mark and I sat in silence. I told him, “I think we made a mistake. I think God has called us to do foster care and we ran away because it seemed too
hard”. Even if this was true, we now had a brand new lease on this new townhouse that had no room for a baby. We had shut the door on that for at least a year.

I kid you not, the next day a certified letter came informing us we were being evicted at no fault of our own. You see, even though we had disclosed our large dogs on our application and they were on the lease, the property manager had failed to realize the community didn’t allow large dogs. We had 60 days to find a new home and move AGAIN. 003

The rest of the story tells itself. We moved into a family home, called our agency, and finished our application. We decided to stop fighting what was so clearly meant to be and accept that maybe God was asking us to take that leap of faith and do the hard thing.

Within hours of being licensed, I got a call for our first placement. A newborn baby. We adopted him 15 months later.