Wednesday, March 27, 2013


It is a fact that if you are a Torres, you are cool.  All cool people use the term YOLO, so it is inevitable that YOLO would work itself into our daily vocab...YOLO!

For those of you wondering what YOLO means, I"ll break it down for ya'.  It's an acronym for You Only Live Once.  YOLO was our vacation theme.

A little workout pool side and beach side...

Going shopping immediately after working out and not even showering...

Pondering life while drinking cafe con leche and wandering through a million dollar neighborhood...


Giving your best Sound of Music performance...

Babies chillaxin' in the pool...


As you can see we totally we YOLO-ed all week long.  

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Movin' On Up

So no doubt you all know we were in Florida last week.  Destin, FL. Temps ranging from the 50's-70's.  Ahhhhh...

It was bliss.  Our whole family and extended family all together in one gigantic million dollar beach front property.  I seriously felt like the Jefferson's. Sing it with me...

Movin' on the east side...we finally got a  piece of the pi-i-ie.

If you think I'm exaggerating, just take a look at the house we stayed at for the week.

{Front view}

{Back view}

{Ocean view}

Many of my facebook friends showed interest in this house.  Here are the deets to renting.  My father-in-law and his wife treated our entire family with the lodging.  I know many of you were probably thinking I got some amazing deal on this big 'ol house.  I didn't.  We are just super blessed to be on the receiving end of generosity.

Tomorrow I'll share all the shenanigans that occurred while on vacation.  When all the Torreses get together, we get a little crazy.  

Monday, March 25, 2013

Menu Monday

For the LOVE, life has changed around here.  Seriousl life changes.  Life changes I would have never ever in a million years thought would have transpired, let alone me agree to them, but it landed in my lap and I'm going to run with it.  Are you ready to know?  I jumped in with both feet in starting my own business.

The week before my family left for FL, I went to a Healthy Happy Hour to learn about safe supplements and clean eating for Stevena and myself.  Steven begins his marathon training in May and I need to put on muscle now that I have lost all the baby weight.  As I was sitting there, so many products I wanted but cost was a HUGE issue.  You all know how frugal I am, and we are right smack in the middle of Financial Peace University.  I was there to learn about health and figure out how to manage our budget to fit these products into our limited cash.

My friend, Erica, was already committed to doing the business side of it.  Totally made sense for her.  She had been using products (through Arbonne) for a long time.  She's in charge of directing people towards healthier lifestyles.  Arbonne is what she stands behind and uses.  Then she asked if would help her.

Naturally, I'm a helper.  I like to serve people through helping.  I told her I would.  By accepting the challenge of building my own business, I received everything we needed for our family AND it fit our teeny weeny health budget.

Now, don't go running and hiding from me.  I will not sell you anything.  I will never ever look at you as a dollar amount, but if you are interested in doing things like detoxing, protein shakes, weight loss (the healthy way), I will tell you about what we're doing (including our kids).

You're probably wondering, "How on Earth does this tie into Menu Monday?"  Welp, my family is beginning the 30 Day Detox/Cleanse on April 1st.  I am so thankful my mom, husband, BIL, SIL, FIL, and boot camp family are joining me on this journey.  It will be hard, but I have a great support system.  I'll need the support because for the next 30 days I will go without dairy, wheat, peanuts, caffeine, refined sugar, and soy.  YIKES!  My menu beginning April 1st will result in clean eating for the next 30 days. 

Honestly, I'm excited about this journey.  Excited to see how I can stretch my grocery budget to fit our new dietary needs for the next month and how much will power I will have towards abandoning my precious bread and desserts.

If you want to do this with me or know a bit more about what I'm doing, you can come to my house tonight at 6:45. My family will be here and so will a few neighbors who will all do the detox together.

Now for my last hurrah menu...

Monday-Spaghetti with Meat Sauce, Garlic Knots, Salad
Tuesday-Hot Dogs, Crispy Potatoes, Fresh Veggies
Wednesday-Key West Grilled Chicken and Veggies, Buttered Bread
Thursday-Creamy Enchilada Bake, Mexican Style Mashed Potatoes, Corn
Friday-Pork Butt Sandwiches, Potato Salad, Snap Peas
Saturday-Roasted Chicken, Green Beans, Fruit Salad
Sunday-Easter Dinner

Vacation Monster

The vacation monster attacked me! I promise to be back later today with a menu and life update. Pinky promise.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Sew Funny

I am one of those people that ponder and stew and ponder and visualize myself doing something well before I actually do it.  It's just how I am.  So when my mom offered me her 1970's sewing machine she used in high school, I said yes.  She came over, showed me how to work it, and I put the Singer Fashion 252 away.  The thing sat in a closet for almost a year.  I didn't forget it was there.  Time just had to pass for me to get it in my head that I was going to actually sew something.  I didn't know what, but I was going to do it.

A few months back my first pair of Toms bit the dust.  Apparently, I have a big protruding toe because that thing made a hole.  I tried to rock the 'Peep Toe' Toms look, but it just didn't work out.  I looked more like the girl who was trying to not buy new Toms.  Thankfully, ultra crafty people like Ashley Ann problem solve with shorty guy craft projects for the rest of us non-creative peeps.

So here I was convinced that I could pick out some cool scrap fabric, sew a hem, and recover the tops of my Toms like what she did.  That did it.  I pulled out the sewing machine, read the owner's manual with the hippie flowers all over it and sat there for 30 minutes.  Even after reading the manual, I could not figure out how to turn the darn thing on! Seriously.  I was so frustrated.  Finally, I chalked it up the outlet not working.  After all, a college educated woman should be able to get a sewing machine to work.  Just to check to see if the electricity was flowing, I turned the machine light on.  Simultaneously, my foot was on the pedal with a bit of pressure and VIOLA!  It started running.  Yeah, 30 minutes of time wasted.  All I had to do was turn the light on.  (Grandma, stop laughing.  I know this is giving you a good laugh since you are the ultimate sewer!)

I practiced sewing some hems.  They were okay, and figured they would do for the shoe recover fabric.  Only one problem.  I was practicing with black thread.  When I went to change out the thread to white, there was none.  But hey, at least I know how to turn the machine on now.  Unfortunately I'm still left with this...


Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Ultra Crunchy

As of late I have learned that granola is out and crunchy is in.  Seriously.  Just as soon as I learned granola, the cool people go and change the term.  I can't keep up with these young bucks.

Anyhoo, I am now a granola crunchy girl.  It all happened like this...

The sun hadn't even cracked over the butt of the Earth and I was running with a gal pal.  She tries to shock me since I'm ornery.  Most often it doesn't work, BUT she got me this day.  She said, "Guess what?  I'm not wearing any deoderant."

Then I exited left and discontinued our run.  After all I'm a fair weather runner.  I don't do stink.  I kid.  

Instead, I thought in my head how funky she must smell.  Then I told her that I thought she was probably funky, but she said she was fresh.  She was wearing baking soda in her pits, and it really worked.  Despite how much I admire and respect her, I wasn't about to do a sniff test.   Ewwwweeee!

We finished our run and parted ways.  I couldn't get her baking soda armpits out of my head.  After I showered I grabbed my baking soda.  Pat, pat, pat in one pit.  Pat, pat, pat in the other.  Viola!  I was done.

Hours later, I had no scent at all in my armpits.  I came to the conclusion that if baking soda can absorb the funky smells out of my fridge, it is strong enough for my crazy weird armpit scents.  

So that's Crunchy Evidence #1.  

Crunchy Evidence #2 is this...

Because Crunchy people eat ultra healthy stuff and like it.  Guess what???  This is ultra healthy and we LOVED it.  Yeah, I'm so crunchy.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Menu Monday

Granola. Crunchy.  Two words that describe me lately.  I'll have to share more on that later.  Today is MENU MONDAY!

Monday-Hamburgers, Pineapple Salsa and Chips
Tuesday-French Lentil Soup with Grilled Cheese Sandwiches
Thursday-Roasted Whole Chicken, Corn Casserole, Salad
Friday-Corn Tortilla Chicken Tacos (chicken used from last night's meal) and Guacamole

I can't tell you where I'll be Saturday and Sunday.  Complete surprise...for you, not me.  I know where I'm going.  AND, guess what?  On Friday, March 15th I will have been married to Steven Torres for 10 whole years!!!  Somehow that man has stuck around with me.  It must be my good looks.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Dealing With Disappointment

Long, long ago in a land not so far away there lived a teacher, Mrs. Torres.  She lived for her students and loved them for she had none of her own.  She witness parents who taught her many good lessons.  Lessons that stuck around for years to come when she would have her own children.  This is one such lesson.

In the days of Mrs. Torres' teaching world, kids were offered incentives for extra reading.  Most often the children would have to reach monthly reading goals for six months, and as a reward they would be taken out on a special day of fun.  It was a wonderful program that motivated kids to go above and beyond normal expectations.

Then one day Johnny appeared.   Mrs. Torres explained to the entire class about the reading and the reward.  Everyone was excited.  Everyone was on board, and then Johnny raised his hand.

Uh, Mrs. Torres?


I'm not going to do this reading stuff.

Why?  You can do this!  I will help you reach the goal as long as you put your best effort forth. (Johnny really struggled in reading)

It doesn't matter if I do it or not.  Last year, I didn't do it.

Honey, you do realize that if you don't do it, you'll miss out on the day of fun?

No I won't.  My mom didn't make me go to school on that day last year and we did our own fun stuff. I got to go to the zoo and Incredible Pizza.

Wow.  Mrs. Torres had no words.  His mom was setting him up for failure.  He had no desire to work above and beyond because no matter what, he was going to rewarded...for doing nothing.  Mrs. Torres learned a HUGE parenting lesson.  She pulled out her Parenting 101 Notes and wrote:

Tip #236:  Do not bail out your kids when they don't rise to the occasion.

Fast forward a few years and Mrs. Torres has her own kids.  Tip #236 has stuck with her.  Even in moments where her kids are crying and disappointed, she reminds herself that bailing them out is not helping them.  It's hurting.  

This lesson is so, so important.  Kids will do what you expect of them.  It may take a few tries to get it right, but they will rise to the occasion.  If they fail, it's okay.  Through failure comes teaching.  Through teaching comes learning.  Through learning comes growth. Growth. That's what we want for our kids, right?  

When we rush in and 'fix' the hurts and shortcomings of our kids they learn that they have no responsibility.  Mom (or Dad) will take care of it.  They stay stagnant.  

For the past few weeks I have watched an ugly scenario play out at one of the activities Little Miss and Chunky Monkey participate in on a weekly basis.  It's hard to watch, because I know the mom feels she has her child's best interest in mind, but the child is being set up for failure.  Here's how it happens...

The child decides that day if they want to be there.  If the child doesn't, the child makes it as difficult as possible for the teachers and other kids until the child's mom rushes in and takes them home.  

This happens every week.  It is a shame.  First off, the child has not had the opportunity to learn the discipline of following through.  That despite your feelings, you have committed to something and must stick with it until the end.  Something that may not seem so important at 4, but will impact the child severely as they age.

Secondly, the parent (unknowingly) is demonstrating a very selfish attitude.  The class is very full and has a waiting list up to 6 months.  1 out of 4 weeks the child wants to be there.  The other 3 weeks, it is a battle for the teachers to get them to stay, deal with the behavior, and the other kids have to wait while the child is being dealt with.  That spot on the roster could potentially be filled with another child who is expected to be there and fulfill the role that a child is meant to fulfill.  To learn and grow and listen and obey.

I know this sounds really harsh, but I honestly look at this mother with such empathy.  She has a long road ahead of her.  I have seen the other end of the spectrum.  The student I spoke about in the story of Mrs. Torres' class, it was me as the teacher. Are you shocked ;) ?  

It is a true story.  What breaks my heart is Johnny (not the real name) is now in high school.  He has been suspended multiple times from school.  He never was held accountable.  He was always bailed out.  Now that he is older, he has found himself in situations where his mom can't rush in to save him.  It breaks my heart.  He is a beautiful boy.  He has potential.  We all have potential.  It just has to be used.

So when I see situations play out where a child is bailed out of their own doings, it hurts.  It hurts to see the pain I know the parent and child will have in the future.  Our kids deserve more. They deserve to have standards.  They deserve to have high expectations.  It reminds me of the quote...

Shoot for the moon because at the very least you will land on a star.

So let's shoot for the moon with our kids. 

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

An Ironing Board: A Lesson In Financial Discipline

If you are tired of hearing about Dave Ramsey, then just stop reading here.  This is totally a Dave Ramsey post.  

About a month ago Steven pulled out the ironing board to get his work clothes ironed and the thing just plum broke off the legs.  We laughed.  Then we said, "Oh crap!  We need an ironing board."


Being the middle of the week, neither one of us wanted to make a special trip to pick up an ironing board.  Steven made do with a make shift ironing board.  It was ghetto and pathetic, but it worked.  The weekend rolled around and Steven reminded me to pick up an ironing board for him.

So there I was with my grocery cash envelope hoping to swing an ironing board out of my envvelope.  Wasn't going to happen.  Eek!  I didn't have any other cash with me.  Swiping the debit card was a possibility, but it would have been painful.  I decided I would take the walk of shame into the house without a new board.  Steven was not happy, but he is 100% committed to a cash only lifestyle.  He was unhappy, but understood.

A few more weeks passed and it was definitely time to pick up an ironing board.  Poor Steven had suffered long enough.  Since we were still in the middle of the month of February, all of our cash had already been allotted to go somewhere.  We had to make a decision.  A new ironing board was around $30 and we had $35 in our 'Entertainment/Extra' envelope.  Did we really want to clear that out or find another option?

It was hard for me to let go of $30.  We had made plans to take the kids out to dinner that weekend and they were really looking forward to it.  Rarely do we go out to dinner, so it's a treat they love.  That's when I hopped on Craigslist.  Part of me was grossed out at the thought of it, but I gave it a try to see what was available.

Guess what???  I found a brand new board for $10.  A family who had just moved to OK from CA lost their board in the move so they bought a new one.  Then they found their old one.  Lucky me I got their newly purchased board, that was bed bug free (that was Steven's fear) for $10.

In all honesty, we could have easily purchased a new ironing board.  We have the money in savings and large cushion in our checking.  Before Dave Ramsey we would have swiped the card and not put that extra $30 in savings.  Not so much a big deal now, but if we follow that pattern where does it stop?  If $30, $40, $50 misses the savings account, we are hurting ourselves.  This lifestyle makes us more accountable.  It is difficult.  It has us using a financial discipline like we've never used before, but it is worth it.  Just a little creativity and searching allowed us to get what we needed and not change our monthly financial plan.  A big plus for me.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Love Language

Right before Steven and I got married one of my mom's friends gifted me with two books, The Power of a Praying Wife and The Love Languages.  I read both of them.  They have shaped the way I interact with my husband and others.  I would recommend these two books to anyone, but I was reminded of The Love Languages last week.

I'm not sure if you know or not, but my birthday was last Saturday.  Oh wait, I think I made sure everyone knew I was getting up there in my old lady status.  I'm not quite the young strapping buck I used to be.  Although I feel better about my health now than any other time in my life, my body does feel older.

I digress.

Since I was feeling ambitious I got up early on my birthday because I was going to hit the pavement with some wonderful ladies and run 6 miles.  My friend, Erica (the one that owns F.I.T. Boot Camp), was coming to pick me up.  She gave me a quick text to let me know she was out front.  I opened the door and right smack in my face was a piece of furniture she refinished for me.  I almost cried, because there is a story behind the piece.

Awhile back Erica and I were running through the neighborhood when I spotted a side table on my neighbor's curb.  We quick grabbed it up and stuffed in on my porch.  It was going to make the best sofa table once I refinished it.

I was so excited, but then life happened.  For six months it sat in my laundry room collecting stuff.  Steven was getting a little irritated that it was still there doing nothing but junk collecting.  I told him I would get rid of it.  Secretly I was sad, but he was right.  If I hadn't done anything with it yet, it wasn't going to get done.  I called Erica and asked if she wanted it.

She snatched it off my hands.  A few days later she called and asked what I was going to do with it, and I told her.  Her reply, Awesome.  I think I'll do the same thing. 

Fast forward to the morning of my birthday run and I realized she didn't take the table for herself.  She took the table to refinish it for me.  In the exact way I wanted to do it for myself, only better.  Here is my new sofa side table...
Photo: My curb find that I never got around to. A great friend took the table and redid it for me as a surprise. Blessed. Super blessed.

The pic is a bit dark, but you get the point.  It's beautiful.  I love it.  I was surprised.  I rarely get surprised.  I was gifted in a way that is totally my love language.  I love gifts that require genuine thoughts and service.  

As if the table wasn't enough to make my birthday special, my friend Jackie also blessed me right up my love language alley.  Some of you may find this a bit odd, but I find it special and endearing.  From Jackie I received the sweetest card and this...

Photo: Steven and I decided to stop buying chips.  I can't be trusted with them. However, it's very important to have amazing friends who help support the habit. Pretty darn good birthday present!!! Thank you, Jackie!

Jackie knows I stopped buying chips because I can't stay out of them.  I love chips!  LOVE them.  She went and picked up a bag of her favorite chips for me.  Talk about thoughtful!  And in case you're wondering...they chips were gone in two days.  They were delicious!

If you're thinking, Man, Amanda is one lucky girl, you would be right. I am blessed.  My birthday blessings didn't end there.  My husband had a wonderful breakfast awaiting me as I came in from my run, and had the kids make me birthday cards.  My mom came and watched the kids so Steven could take me out for a day.  When we came home, my mom had made a special dinner.  It was an all around perfect day.

What makes it so special is the people around me hit me right in my love language spot.  Gifts of service.  It reminds me that I must work hard to serve others in their love languages because it feels so wonderful to have blessing like I experienced this weekend.

Monday, March 4, 2013

Menu Monday

Month 3 of Financial Peace University and we are in love.  Like we just had a fourth child or something.  Crazy weird how doing something so disciplined and detailed makes life easier and less stressful.

In doing FPU, we have strict budgets for various spending areas.  Our grocery budget is set at $450 for the month.  I try to spend around $100, but give a $50 cushion because our grocery budget includes cleaning supplies, tolietries, baby needs, and food.  So far I have come in just a tad under budget each month.  It feels good.  However, I have to make some tough decisions at the store sometimes.  For example, the cuts of meat I purchase have changed up a bit.  This past week I purchased one whole chicken, which will be roasted today for a meal and the leftovers will be shredded for Wednesday's menu.  The whole chicken at a little over 4 lbs was only $4.  Then I purchased chicken thighs that were on sale for $1.19/lb.  Going this route allowed me to save $3 from the usual frozen chicken breasts I usually buy each week.  $3 may not sound like a big savings, BUT when you add up all those $3 savings here and there, it keeps me under budget.  AND, under budget is what we like 'round these parts.

Anyhoo, here's the menu for this week...

Monday-Roasted Whole Chicken, Mashed Potatoes, Green Beans
Tuesday-Quinoa Fajitas, Salad, Spanish Brown Rice
Wednesday-Chicken Bacon Crescent Ring, Sweet Potatoes Slices, Fresh Fruit Salad
Thursday-Man Pleasing Chicken, Broccoli Casserole, Buttered Bread
Friday-Honey Mustard Chicken, Zucchini, Garlic Bread
Saturday-Grilled Chicken with Peppers and Cheesy Biscuits
Sunday-Dinner @ Mom's

Menu Monday

A little too much birthday fun leaves little time for Menu Monday.  I promise I will get it up later today, but for now I must close my eyes.