Posts filed under "weekend"

Weekend Top 5 - Single Car Family

The Weekend Top 5 is back!!

Before I dive into my weekend reminiscing, let me just send out a warm thank you to everyone who read the first guest post that went up on Friday. We had almost 100 views, which is incredible. For anyone who was a first time reader, I hope you'll come back. For those of you who read somewhat regularly, I hope you enjoyed Jason's take on his favorite summertime song. We'll have more guest posts from Jason throughout the summer and I know that each of them will have just as good of a viewership.

Now, onto the TOP 5!

#5: One Car Family.
This really isn't a favorite thing about the weekend, but it's a big story for me nonetheless. A few weeks ago, Jason's car got hit. He wasn't in it. In fact, it was parked. But anyway, the door got messed up and so last Monday he took his car to the shop and was given a rental car. Friday, I took the rental car to work and was supposed to return it and pick up his car. Well, his car wasn't ready until the rental car place was closing, so I wasn't able to accomplish my task. So, Saturday morning I headed downtown and returned the rental car. I was worried I'd need some sort of paperwork or piece of info that I didn't have, but luckily the return went off without a hitch. Enterprise took me to the body shop and dropped me off. I was in my workout clothes and ready to pick up Dora the Explorer (yes, that's what I lovingly named Jason's car when we were dating), head to the gym, and get my Saturday-o-errands started. But guess what? The body shop was closed. So of course I called Jason crying my eyes out (I'm one of those awkward people who cries when I get really mad or frustrated), because I was stranded downtown at a deserted body shop. Poor Jason had to take his lunch break at 10:00 in the morning, rush downtown, and save me from the situation. So, on a weekend when Jason worked both Saturday and Sunday, we had one car. I drove The Summit a lot this weekend. There's always a silver lining, and this time it was the fact that I got to spend more time with Jason on a weekend that I wasn't going to get to spend much time with him.

#4: 24 Day Challenge Ends.
Today is the last day of the 24DC. I know that's not technically the weekend, but this was the last weekend doing the challenge. So far, I feel great. I'll measure tomorrow, but I do know that I've lost 6lbs, which is more than I've been able to lose in a month in a LONG time. I would definitely recommend this to anyone looking to jump start their weight loss. I'll continue eating the same, and I really like the Spark energy drinks and the meal replacement drinks. I'm planning on keeping those around.

#3: Flatbreads.
I'm obsessed with homemade flatbreads right now. I've basically got it down to an art.

Here's how I make them:

BBQ Chicken Flatbread

Yields: 1 Serving
Ingredients
  • Flatout Spinach Flatbread
  • BBQ Sauce
  • 3 oz. cooked chicken, diced
  • About 1/4 c. of shredded, reduced fat cheese
Directions
  1.  Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.
  2. Cover a cookie sheet with foil and spray cooking spray on the foil.
  3. Lay your flatbread on the foil and spray the top with a little bit of cookie spray.
  4. Put 1-2 tbsp. of BBQ sauce on the flatbread and spread around.
  5. Spread your chicken around on the flatbread. 
  6. Sprinkle with cheese.
  7. Bake in the oven for 7-10 minutes. Keep an eye on it. You'll want the edges to almost look burned. That's how you know it's crispy. 
  8. Enjoy! 
Sorry the picture is a little dark.

#2: House Hunters.
No, we're not going to be on the show, [yet] (I applied, although I really want to be on Property Brothers.).  Jason and I decided back in January that we're going to start looking for a house to buy in Birmingham around our one year anniversary. Well, Saturday marked our nine month anniversary, so that means only about three months until we get to start really house shopping!! I'm literally beside myself and my favorite pastime has become driving through neighborhoods to look at houses that are for sale. Yesterday, Jason and I drove around the Cahaba Heights area for about 45 minutes just looking. It's just really a lot of fun to dream together. We still have to figure out what kind of house we want and what part of town we want to live in, but the time to make all of these decisions is fast approaching and I couldn't be more excited!

#1: Welcome Home Lauren!
One of my best friends from college, Lauren, just moved back to Birmingham. I literally could not be more excited. Saturday night a group of us all met up at Jackson's to surprise her with a welcome home gathering (Jason was supposed to get a video of the surprise part on his phone but after the surprise ended, he realized he forgot to press record. Silly Jason). It was great to see her and other friends from college. We really have to get together like that more often. I am thrilled that Lauren is in Birmingham now and I can't wait to start getting together regularly...just like the ole days!
Pictures stolen used from Lauren's Instagram.


One last thing - 

If you're looking to make a delicious, healthy, cold treat this summer, look no further than right here. Saturday I made some chocolate strawberry popsicles at home.

Here's how:

Chocolate Strawberry Homemade Pops

Yields: 4 Popsicles
Ingredients
  • 1 c. Light Chocolate Silk milk
  • Handful of frozen sliced strawberries (make sure the buy the bag that has no sugar added)
  • Popsicle molds (Target has them for $2.99 on the seasonal summer isle in the back)
Directions
  1. Place strawberries in the molds.
  2. Pour milk over strawberries.
  3. Freeze overnight.
  4. Enjoy!!!
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Posted on June 24, 2013 and filed under "24DC", "Top 5", "cake", "friends", "recipe", "weekend".

Weekend Top 5 - Road Trip Weekend & TWO BONUSES

Instead of doing a Top 5, I'm going to give you 5 events from the weekend. Let's go!

WEDDING
Obviously we went to Jacksonville so that Jason could be in his friend Cody's wedding. Beautiful wedding. Gorgeous bride. Wonderful food. Now, Mr. & Mrs. Jones are in Jamaica and I'm kind of very jealous.
Mr. & Mrs. Cody Jones
Most awesome groomscake ever.
Me and my handsome groomsman
Us again :)

GRADUATION
My sister Julia is now officially a high school graduate! She did such a wonderful job walking across that stage, not to mention the four years of lots of hard work and dedication. She put in so much during her time at Fort Walton Beach High School and I know that she's just going to love college and flourish at Samford.
"There she is!" That's what my grandpa always says when he sees one of us.
GRADUATION PARTY
Me, Jason, lots of brand new high school graduates, their parents, some friends, and my grandparents. Oh yes, it was awesome.
Grad party photobooth.
Super Sassy, even at 91 years old!

Most incredible people ever. 91 and 92 and they're rockin' this party!
SAMFORD ORIENTATION
My parents and Julia are in Birmingham right now (Carlee is taking classes at home this summer...we MISSED her!) for Samford orientation. It's been great to spend some extra time with them during lunch. For the last two days I've been able to go eat with them in the caf. Since Jason works for orientation, we are able to eat for free. Yesterday Jason and I got asked if we have a son or daughter who will be a freshman next year. Haha...no. 

AN INTROVERT NIGHT
Last night Jason stayed at Samford really late so that he could get video footage of Samford's karaoke night that they have during orientation. Sidenote: I actually remember Jason from my orientation. Anyway, since he was working late, I had a night at home by myself. I usually don't like to be by myself for long periods of time, but I really enjoyed the relaxation and quiet after such a busy weekend. I got to watch my shows, watch a movie, and eat a really healthy dinner. It was kind of a treat.
My delicious dinner for one.
BONUS: 24 DAY CHALLENGE
Today I began the "max" phase of the 24DC. I'm feeling really good and excited to start seeing results. Since last week I couldn't get into a routine of any kind since we were traveling so much, so today was my first day back in the 5Club. I was up at 5:00, at the Lakeshore Trail by about 5:30, and done with my workout by 6:30. When I got home, I was able to unload and load the dishwasher, make lunch, put dinner in the crockpot, and make my delicious meal replacement shake. It was quite a productive morning. I guess that's what happens when I wake up three hours before I have to leave. I'm thinking of making a badge for my blog for each day that I wake up at 5:00.
Lakeshore Trail at 5:30 a.m.

Meal replacement shake packet, 8 oz. water, 3 large ice cubes. Blend. YUM!
Best flavor of Spark EVER!
How about this...I'll make a 5Club badge, and if you get up at or around 5:00 (let's say any time between 4:30 and 5:30 in the morning), comment below the badge! That'll be really encouraging for anyone who gets up early just to know we're not alone!!

Plus, it'll give you another reason to BLOGBACKTOME!

ALSO -

This is an EXTRA BONUS! I'm selling my 13" MacBook Pro. I got it last year and it's the late 2011 model. It's in really good condition. If you're interested in buying it, comment below and I'll send you the tech specs and price.

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Posted on June 11, 2013 and filed under "24DC", "Top 5", "graduation", "travel", "weekend".

Weekend Top 5 - The Traveling Morales'

We've been traveling for three weekends straight. It's been a blast and I'm sad to see it ending next Sunday - although we're going out with a the best trip of all!

At the end of this week, we'll drive south to my hometown to see my sister graduate from high school (YAY JULIA!). Then we'll head east to Jacksonville to see our friends Cody and Lacey get married. Jason's actually in the wedding, so we'll be there all weekend, and then head back to Birmingham on Sunday just in time to see our friend Rachel off on her midterm mission trip. We will sure miss her over the next 12 months!

Now, here's this weekend's top 5:

#5: 24 Day Challenge.
So I've seen a lot of people on social media who are doing the Advocare 24 Day Challenge. I'm always looking for ways to eat healthier and just kind of kick start my body into eating better. I wasn't really sure if I wanted to do this or not though, because last time I did something like this I quit when it got really heard (remember the cleanse round 2?). But after talking to a friend about it and talking to people at the gym about it, I decided to do it. I began Saturday. So far, so good. I'll keep you updated.

#4: REALLY good food.
After beginning the 24DC, it was kind of tough to go out of town. But we did, and I think for a day of traveling I did pretty well. Saturday night I made salmon, asparagus, and for Jason I made garlic cheese bread. YUM! I also made some protein packed blueberry muffins so that I could gave a breakfast on the go or a good snack while we were traveling the next day. Usually that's a problem because even if I like the healthy version of things, Jason doesn't. BUT, he really liked the blueberry muffins so these are coming to you "picky-husband endorsed".

Here are my yummy eats from the weekend:
Salmon and asparagus.
Blueberry muffins.
Pulled pork salad from Fox Brother's BBQ in Atlanta.
Balsamic Bleu Salad from Ted's in Atlanta (I didn't eat the fried onion straws).

#3: Fall Out Boy. 
Jason has been a FOB fan for too many years to count. As he put it, he's been a fan since before their fans were all teenage girls. So since FOB has reunited, Jason bought tickets to THREE of their shows. One in Atlanta that was last night. One in Nashville at the end of June. One in Atlanta in September. He decided to sell his Nashville tickets after he bought the tickets for the second Atlanta show because he figured that three might be overkill. I just let him do his thing because I get to see JT in November - so I'll save rock and roll with FOB 10 times if that's what Jason wants. The show was actually a lot of fun. I'm a fan of FOB, but not nearly as much as Jason. I recognize most of their songs and I know a handful. But overall, we had a blast...other than them stopping the show four times because people kept passing out from heat exhaustion. Thankfully we snatched some seats upstairs where it was much less crowded, but still really hot.

Fall Out Boy.
Not sure how Jason has on a hoodie because I was absolutely disgusting due to the heat.
#2: Passion City Church.
We were planning on going to the Georgia Aquarium yesterday, but after a late start that idea got postponed. So, what do you do in Atlanta when your aquarium visit gets nixed? Go to Passion City Church of course! We went. We loved it. Jason got a pop (yes, King of Pops has carts there to raise money for the youth kiddos). Matt Redman led worship. Louie preached. We sang. It was awesome. I wanted to take a picture for the blog during the worship set, but I don't really like it when people take pictures at church, so I decided not to be "that girl". Instead I took one before the service started. It's not great, but I was trying to hold my phone in my lap so that no one would see me. Here's what I got:

#1: Backyard friends.
Friday night some of our friends had a little house show in their backyard. It was so cool. I love to hear my friends sing because they're all incredibly talented. I just love and admire so much how they use their beautiful voices to bring friends together and to worship our Creator. The backyard party was so much fun and such a wonderful time of fellowship with friends. We hope they decide to do it again soon!

Here's the recipe for the blueberry muffins:

Blueberry Muffins
(recipe adapted from this one)
Yields 12 muffins

Ingredients
  • 1.5 c. all-purpose whole wheat flour
  • 3/4 c. granulated sugar (I used baking Splenda)
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 (6-ounce) container nonfat Greek yogurt (I used Fage)
  • 1/4 c. unsweetened almond milk
  • 1/4 c. canola oil (I used unsweetened apple sauce)
  • 1 egg (I used egg whites)
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1.5 c. fresh blueberries
Directions:
  1. Preheat oven to 400F. Grease muffin cups or line with muffin liners. 
  2. Combine flour, sugar, baking powder and salt in a large mixing bowl. In a separate bowl combine, Greek yogurt, milk, oil (applesauce) and vanilla. Stir liquid ingredients into dry ingredients just enough to combine. Fold in blueberries. Fill muffin cups right to the top. 
  3. Bake for 12-15 minutes in the preheated oven, or until done.
How was your weekend?

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Posted on June 3, 2013 and filed under "24DC", "Top 5", "friends", "recipe", "travel", "weekend".

A Big HOPE Weekend

I honestly don't even know where to begin.

I guess I'll just start at the beginning.

I've wanted to adopt a child since I was 16 years old. Just to give a little reference for when that was, I turned 16 in May of 2005 and Angelina Jolie adopted her second child, the child she and Brad adopted together, in July of 2005. The decisions to adopt are not related in any way.

When Jason and I met three years ago, I told him about my desire to adopt. He has encouraged me in my desire to be an adoptive parent since the beginning, and he quickly adopted this plan himself once we became pretty serious and knew we would get married (no pun intended...okay, maybe a little intended).

I don't remember exactly how I learned about Show Hope, and I'm sure Jason learned about this organization through touring with to Casting Crowns, but I've always seemed to just know that Show Hope existed. I have occasionally checked their website just to read about their mission and get excited about someday adopting, but in December of this last year, Jason and I became official Show Hope sponsors. 

Well, one thing led to another, and last weekend we spent Sunday volunteering at Show Hope's 10 Year Anniversary celebration in Nashville.



This day could not have come at a worse time in some ways, but in so many other ways it came at the perfect time.

I was sick all weekend with a horrible headache and sinus congestion. Traveling to Nashville this past weekend as meant that we'd be traveling for four weekends in a row. Jason worked on Saturday, so I had to pack for both of us and be ready as soon as he got home if we were going to make it there at a decent hour. On and on my excuses when, and you see, on paper, we probably should have just canceled. In fact, when I was feeling horrible and laying on the couch complaining, Jason asked if I wanted to just cancel and stay home.

But as always, God had the better plan.

Upon arriving to Nashville, we met up with the couple who invited us and some of their family/friends. We went to see Star Trek, which was good for Jason and a nap for me. Just kidding...but I'm a little bit serious. The redeeming factor to Star Trek is that J.J. Abrams directed it. But regardless, we had a great time with the company. I digress...

The next morning it was up and at 'em early. We were at Lipscomb University by about 8:45 ready and waiting to be given directions. We spent the next couple of hours helping set up for the "picnic" that Show Hope was hosting all afternoon. And when I say picnic, we're talking outdoor awesomenes. We're talking food trucks. We're talking blow up bouncy things. We're talking entertainment all afternoon. We're talking photobooth. We're talking merch table (which I took full advantage of). We're talking radio stations. We're talking everything a person could image at a picnic and much much more.
Volunteer Badge

Setting up

The Veggie Tales, duh.

The Red Bus Project

But even all of the awesomeness of the picnic didn't make me feel better. I was still feeling kind of icky with headaches and sinuses, and I just couldn't shake the "I want to be in my own bed" feeling. Finally, I did. Well, God did.

At about 1:30 in the afternoon, I looked around me. I saw families that I admired and I didn't even know their names, or where they were from, or any information about them, even the basics. I didn't see anything remarkable - they all looked and acted normal. Kids were crying, moms were frantic, dads were a little helpless but trying to be helpful; they were having fun one moment and the next they were cleaning up spilled juice...they were all completely normal; except for one thing...

They all had inexpressible love overflowing out of them.

They had love for their children. Love for God. Love for the organization that threw the awesome party picnic. Love for the other families. Love for those in need. Just plain, unmistakeable love.

At one point that afternoon, I was standing inside the arena waiting for Jason to get something to drink and a random lady walked up to me. In my memory of her, she had about 10 kids hanging off of her, but in reality it was probably only about three. She walked up to me, a complete stranger, and said, "Isn't it amazing what they've done here? All of us here in the same place. The Chapman's have just done something incredible by opening up their lives to us!" Then she walked away.

At this point in time, it was probably closer to 2:00, and this stranger had just peeled back the jaded selfishness that I'd carried around all day without even knowing it. It took me from 8:45 that morning until 2:00 in the afternoon to realize that God had placed Jason and I there to help and to serve, but more than that, he'd placed us there to look ahead at what obedience looks like. Obedience looks like all of those families. It looks like the stranger lady with 15 kids hanging off of her. It looks like Steven Curtis and Mary Beth Chapman and their story. It looks like love.

From that point on, I was on the verge of tears for the rest of the afternoon. I finally was able to let go and just cry when it came time for the concert that night.

People gave testimony after testimony of how God had allowed children to come into their lives and just turn their world upside down for the better. Testimonies of waiting. Testimonies of hurt. Testimonies of strength. Testimonies of discouragement. Testimonies of fear. Testimonies of grace. It was all there. All in one room.

I watched and listened as families talked about making the decision to adopt. For some it was an easy decision, but for some it was difficult. I watched and listened as people spoke about adopting children with needs and how that has brightened their lives with the purest kind of love in a way most of us will never experience on this side of heaven. I watched and listened as families shared their struggle financially to bring their child to live under the same roof. I even got to celebrate with a family who was given the financial means to bring home their baby right there on the spot. It was an incredible night full of laughter, tears of joy, and hope...lots and lots of HOPE.
The Chapman Family

A tribute to Maria Sue Chapman.

All of the bands on stage at the end.
Few people get the blessing of getting a glimpse into what their life will look like in the fugure. I am thankful to say that I received such a gift this past Sunday.

I got to see the kind of love a child out there will bring into my life - a love that is pure, a love that is kind, a love that is joyful, a love that surpasses my wildest understanding, a love that has hope, a love that is like Christ.

I got to see what my family may look like someday, not just the physical appearance, but the spiritual DNA of the future and expanded Morales Family.

I got to see the thousands of families that will be in this community of biblical adoption and orphan care with us someday.

I got to see the faces of those who are and will be praying for the same things that we are and will be praying for, and who will come alongside of us in this journey.

Most of all, I got to experience a renewed hope.

A hope for my future as a person, as a believer, a wife, as a mother.
Jason and I
I walked away from Sunday with a clear understanding of why Show Hope does what they do. I understand why they've been around for 10 years and I pray that they are a pillar that never ceases to exist. More than anything, I understand their name - Show Hope.

They do exactly what they're named for, and their name does deliver; they truly do Show Hope.

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Established in 2003 as Shaohannah’s Hope, Steven Curtis Chapman and his wife, Mary Beth initially founded Show Hope out of their desire to see more children find their way into forever families.  Though many families they talked to were willing to adopt, the financial costs to adoption were simply too high.

Originally named after the Chapman’s first adopted daughter, Shaohannah Hope Chapman, Shaohannah’s Hope has grown far beyond the initial vision of helping a few orphans find homes. In 2009, after changing the name to Show Hope, this organization has seen an amazing explosion in growth. From a six-story caring facility in China, equipped to provide surgeries and medical care to special needs orphans, to multiplying the effects of the adoption grant program by assisting churches in setting up their own adoption funds, Show Hope continues to expand its remarkable worldwide impact.
Posted on May 29, 2013 and filed under "Nashville", "Show Hope", "adoption", "vacation", "weekend".