Thursday, April 24, 2014


I'm not one to brag, but good grief I don't know how we got so lucky to call all these precious pumpkins our own. I was so pleased with their spring pics at Mother's Day Out this year, I thought I'd share them along with a few of what the Nevels kiddos are loving these days...

Sophie Kay // Age 3 1/2


- singing songs from the Frozen soundtrack/reenacting scenes from the movie with her sister
- babies, baby dolls, following around strangers at the park who are holding babies (if she knew my uterus was capable of holding another one, she would beg me everyday to have one)
- talking about her "Halloween birthday party" she wants to have in 6 months 
- snuggling, preferably with a "cozy" blanket
- swimming and anything sweet (she has a crazy sweet tooth that rivals her daddy's)

Campbell Jane // Age 3 1/2


- also singing songs from the Frozen soundtrack/reenacting scenes from the movie with her sister. 
- one on one time with me or Kyle. While I know she loves her siblings, this girl would be perfectly happy being an only child and getting every ounce of all of our affection without having to share.
- Coloring/drawing. This girl is my little artist. She amazes us daily with what she's able to draw, new letters she's taught herself to write, and attempts at replicating things she sees. 
- wearing a dress on a near daily basis, and specifically dresses that flare out a lot when she twirls (which she calls her "favorite dresses")
- puzzles, swimming

Burke Allen // Age 21 months


- talking non stop and telling me what eeeevvvverything is (especially in the car) 
- pushing trucks all over the house
- the sounds of choo choo's, motorcycles, and airplanes (which he can hear ALL within a 10 mile radius)
- shooting balls in his little basketball hoop 
- hitting balls off of his tee with the bat and/or golf club
- whacking everything in our house (sisters included) with his plastic golf clubs 
- saying "mommy" approximately 435,687 a day
- suckers and pancakes
- the pool or any body of water
- dancing to the song "Happy" 

I am daily in amazement at how big my kids are getting. Between Burke talking up a storm and watching the girls' crazy imaginations in action every day, I've been reminded so much lately how fast they grow. Which as all moms know is truly both bitter and sweet. 

The sweet part being that on Easter we captured a rare family picture where everyone was smiling AND looking at the camera. What?!

We could practically grace the cover of Parenting magazine, am I right?

Looking forward to watching these little flowers continue to bloom in this gorgeous spring weather!


Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Journey to My Happy Weight

This past New Year's, Kyle and I decided to set some resolutions that we might actually stick to (doesn't everyone?). I see the list everyday hanging in my closet, and I vowed to myself that these weren't some fleeting, silly ambitions but rather lifestyle changes that I knew in my heart of hearts needed to be made for me to feel and do my best.

The crappy thing about changing though is that it's freaking hard.

Burke is now a few months away from turning two (GASP), and until about a month ago, my weight was still teetering around the same safe place it has been since I lost the bulk of his baby weight about a year ago. To anyone who saw me, you would say that I looked "just fine" even "great" by some standards. But everyone reading this knows we all have our "happy weight" or the weight we feel like we are our most beautiful. And that weight for me just wasn't doing it. My pants were tight, I felt more sluggish than I should for someone who gets decent amounts of sleep and works out 2-3 days a week, hated how I looked in nearly every picture. Just blaaaaah.

About a month ago, I was going on several months of "trying to be good most of the time" and, for obvious reasons, not seeing much change. One morning after working out really hard the past couple days and trying to be reasonable with what I was eating, I hadn't lost a pound. I won't list the words that came out of my mouth after I stepped off the scale, but in my husband's words, "Isn't it a little early to be dropping the F bomb?"

I was beyond frustrated. And throwing a toddler temper tantrum at 7 am. But it turns out that was a magical moment since it turned out to be the motivation I needed to get the weight gone once and for all.

That was approximately a month ago, and as I type this I have lost eight pounds.


I realize this is nothing to some of you reading this, but to someone like me who really really really really stinks at losing weight, it might as well be 200 pounds. More importantly, I feel like I have finally found a happy medium of being able to enjoy both healthy and not-so-healthy foods without going overboard.

So to celebrate this humongous milestone in my life, I thought I'd share some things that have helped me accomplish this and get to my pre-children weight. We'll see if I'm motivated enough to lose another seven and be at my wedding day weight. ;)

1. After the rock bottom "weigh in", I started taking Plexus. I can't say it's been 100% responsible for the weight loss, but I do think it's definitely helped a lot, given me energy, and helped to suppress my appetite.

2. Instead of "being good" for breakfast and lunch while "splurging" a little bit for dinner, I was "good" all day long. I use the Lose It app to track calories, and for me, this is critical to keep me on my daily allowance of around 1,100 calories.

3. I am a firm believer in calorie counting as opposed to "low carb." However, I have found that I see quicker results if I try to limit my carbs to breakfast/lunch only.

4. I recently came across a great little list of "skinny rules" written by Bob Harper, and one that stuck out to me was go to bed hungry. This sounds a little harsh at first, but it's been a game changer for me. I was awwwwwful at late night snacking, and I now can say that most nights I go to bed with a little rumble in my stomach. Learning to not be a slave to that feeling as opposed to trying to fill it as soon as possible has been huge in how I look at food now. It also helps to think about the number I want to see on the scale in the morning and how eating 2 heaping spoonfuls of peanut butter isn't going to help that. ;)

5. I've quit ordering fries if I get my kids something at a drive-thru. It goes without saying that most of the time I also don't order anything and instead eat something at home, but I have ZERO self control around fries and/or tater tots. So sorry kiddos, apple sauce it is.

6. Kyle and I enjoy a drink or two several nights a week, and I knew that wasn't going to stop upon my quest to lose weight (have I mentioned I stay at home with 3 kids, 3 and under?). I love a cold beer on a warm night, so if I really want a beer, I try to stick to Michelob Ultra. But most of the time I opt for red wine or a shot of vodka with Fresca (zero calories) and a little lime juice.

7. Weekends will always be more on the splurge side of things for us. Some weekends, I've totally let loose (think insane amounts of Ted's chips and queso with a giant margarita), and other times if we are eating something unhealthy, I'll try to limit my portion (think half of a cheeseburger and only a few fries). I also try not to make pancakes and bacon EVERY Saturday morning and instead make it a special treat. But can we have a moment of silence for the gloriousness of pancakes and bacon?

8. I've found a workout that I LOVE. In January, I started going to the boot camp at my gym, and it was love at first push up. We do something new every day, it burns a crap load of calories, and I love the group of girls I do it with. For me, getting my butt kicked with other fun and inspirational moms has been key for getting me and my 3 monkeys to the gym multiple days a week. It also helps that they have awesome child care my kids actually love going to!

9. I work out 4-5 days a week, without fail. I enjoy food and drinks too much to skip it!

10. I've started using food for what it is meant to be used for, and not to deal with stress or reward myself. This has really been everything if we're being honest. Ever since having kids, I have become a total and complete emotional eater. Tired? Nothing Daylight Donuts can't fix. Hard day? You deserve a burger AND fries AND a beer. It's taken 3 years, but I've finally realized eating your feelings isn't the answer 99% of the time. I say 99% because I had a Sonic corndog for the first time in a month last night, and I can wholeheartedly say I was significantly happier afterwards. Sometimes something fried is the answer.

So there's my top ten tips for what helped this food lover get down to her fighting weight. I can truly say I feel better than I have felt in years. I'm far from perfect, but I feel happier, more energetic, and more centered than I have ever felt as a mom. It's funny how changing the outside can really end up changing so much on the inside. :)

I'm a little in awe that I am feeling courageous enough to post this pic (stretch marks and all), but here's the proof. To say I carry my weight in my stomach is an understatement. I'm sure my other body parts look a little different too, but my stomach always seems to be the most noticeable.

I hope this can be at least a little encouraging to my mom warrior friends who are fighting to balance so many roles on a daily basis while trying to take care of yourself. 

We are all worth it! 


Thursday, February 27, 2014

Super Smoothie

For quite some time I have been very hesitant to jump on the smoothie bandwagon, for several reasons. The most important one being that I just couldn't wrap my food-loving brain around the fact that a bunch of fruit and yogurt would fill me up first thing in the morning. I'm really more of a cereal/PB on an English muffin/CARBS kinda breakfast gal, and getting my blender out every morning just did not sound appealing.

But now I'm whistling a different tune. With three small kids, I will basically do/try anything not illegal that promises to give me more energy. Energy is one of those things that always feels in short supply around here, and I keep reading and seeing over and over again these overly-energetic annoying people raving about how much energy a good smoothie can give you. And it turns out, they're right.

So for the last week, I have come up with a concoction that has knocked me off my feet with how much better it has made me feel. It's a Pinterest meets Dr. Oz meets my own personal experience smoothie, and for now it has replaced my old go-to's for breakfast. And as promised, it keeps me full for just as long, if not longer than good ole carbs.

So here's the recipe. And the great thing about smoothies is that you can basically tweak/add/subtract things to it and it generally comes out the same.

1/2 C. frozen peaches
1/2 C. frozen mangos
1 banana
handful of spinach leaves
Appr. 1 C. of greek yogurt (I think you're supposed to do plain, but I opt for honey or a flavored kind)
1 packet of Emergen-C
*2 tsp. of Oat Straw Extract (I got mine at Akin's) 
A splash of OJ or your fave juice
1 tsp. (or 2) of chia seeds (I found this super seed blend with flax, chia, and brown rice today that I'm going to start trying but have been using just plain chia seeds)

*I saw this on Dr. Oz as supposed energy booster, and it definitely does.

Today marks my fourth morning trying this blend, and I can honestly say that today was the first day I noticed coffee being an afterthought. I think I may try adding in different frozen/fresh fruits to change up the flavor every now and then. A friend also suggested trying to add a scoop of protein powder to make it even more filling. The skies the limit, ya'll! 

So if you're one of those super healthy people that has been enjoying these concoction for many years, please disregard my ignorance. And to those of you who have been hesitant to replace food with a drink, it's really not a bad trade. Promise.

Happy slurping! 


Saturday, February 15, 2014

Valentine's Day 2014

 What a difference a year makes!



The swing is definitely getting smaller. 

Like the previous Valentine's Days since we've had kids, we kept it pretty low key around here on the day of love. The non-frigid temps we've had the past several days were enough of a gift, so Kyle and I grilled some steaks and hung out by the fire outside with a glass of wine, while the kids enjoyed a heart-shaped pizza. 

Kyle hit a home run with the flowers this year 
after I dropped several hundred hints as to where I wanted flowers from. 

And a rose for each of his little ladies (they gushed about them all day).

I figure I have about 4-5 more Valentine's Days where I can get away with this pose. Irresistible.

Just call him Burkey Pablo. 

This is why I have so few pictures of him lately. He.never.stops.

Festive pizza and sparkling cider for the little ladies 
(that was spilled all over the table after one "cheers")

It felt great to be out on the ole swing set again. 

Like I say every February in Oklahoma, hurry up spring


Saturday, January 4, 2014

the rest of my resolutions

Aside from my resolution of reading more this year, I decided to make a short list of some other goals I have for myself and our family this year. It's been fun reading all of the tweets, Facebook statuses, pictures, and opinions of what it means to make New Year's resolutions. Some people get really detailed and specific, others say we should all just resolve to be our best selves every day. I agree with both. So really you could say that my list is more of a goal list than a resolution list.

Goals can be a scary thing. Scary because the possibility exists that you won't reach it. And then that just stinks because who wants to feel like a failure? I make enough mistakes every day as a mom/wife/friend/human to make me feel like a failure, why add one or six more things to that count? I boiled mine down to things that are really important to me. Or things I've been meaning to do for awhile now, but have just been too afraid to attempt to really conquer. Perhaps sharing them will keep me more accountable and motivated to reach them? I hope so.

Momastery's most recent post really impacted me. I would have to say my first and most important goal this year would be to truly seek out experiences that fill me with beauty. To ignore the hundreds of distracting, negative, or unimportant thoughts that enter my head on a daily basis, and instead choose to seek truth and beauty, even if it's a challenge. More often than not, I find myself giving into the easier path than choosing the better, less easy one. While I was thinking about what I was going to make a priority this year, this verse popped into my head:

I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do, I do not do, but what I hate to do.

Romans 7:15

Ok, so I didn't really know this whole verse by heart, just that a bible verse existed somewhere that I heard once that talked about continually doing what I don't want to do. And because that's my life in a nutshell, it stuck.

There are dozens of situations I could apply this verse to every day. I mean, this is really the story of my life.

I want to lose weight, yet I continue to do nothing different with my diet/exercise.

I want to be more engaged with my kids throughout the day, but I frequently choose other tasks over them.

I want more time to myself to pray, meditate, read, reflect, but I continue to be a lazy butt who lets my children crying be my alarm instead of setting my own.

And so on and so forth...

So here's the short list of what I'm choosing to focus on:

1. Be in bed before 10 pm during the week (I need to feel like a rebel and stay up past midnight watching trashy TV at least one night a week).

2. Wake up before my kids. Which will greatly depend on how committed I am to #1.

3. Finally lose my baby weight which is around 8-10 lbs. I really, really suck at losing weight, so this one will be tough.

4. Find time every day for prayer, reflection, and reading.

5. Spend at least 10 minutes of one-on-one time every day with each of my children/husband. I saw this idea awhile ago and it sounded super easy at first, but it's proven to take some planning.

When I look at this list, I know it's not some fleeting list of resolutions that I'll never look at again after the month of January. I think they reflect the things that are most important to me in my life, and while there is no way I will be perfect in accomplishing all of these on a regular basis, I really want to commit myself to them. In the past, I have had a habit of being really gung ho when I take on a new challenge, slacking a little, then throwing in the towel. Then being back to square one of desperately wanting my life to reflect what's in my heart, but feeling defeated once again because I'm, well, human.

So here's to living a life in 2014 (and beyond) that's full of hope, love, grace, and FUN!

Wishing you all the same. :)


Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Christmas 2013

What a month December was around here! We had a wonderful Christmas in the Nevels house this year with our three monkeys. I remember Christmas being fun last year, but this year it was brought to a whole new level. We traveled less than we usually do around Christmas Eve/Day, and it made things so much more relaxing and enjoyable. Here are a few highlights (read: boatload of pictures) from our celebrations.

Christmas Eve we headed to my parents for our immediate family Christmas.

I could eat this Christmas baby boy up.

Sara and I both have the Elf on the Shelf (Mike and Sparkle, respectively). My dad thought it would be funny if they both showed up at their house on Christmas Eve. So we put them both on the diving board where they could see them from the living room. All of the grandkids thought it was the greatest and kept checking all night to make sure they were still there! 

The girls and Bubba

Sophie wearing her Thomas fleece poncho from her Aunt Sara. Yes, that's right, I said Thomas fleece poncho. That she now insists on wearing over every.single.outfit. Payback is coming, Sister.

Campbell playing with her beloved princess wand.

Christmas goodies for Santa and presents!

Christmas morning fun with these two

Burke on his Y-bike. He has a serious love of pushing/riding anything with wheels right now, so this has been a big hit.

I've never used the self-timer on our camera, so I thought Christmas morning would be a good time to try it. This pic now cracks me up. The kids were so confused with what was happening!  

My twin cousins, Patric and Hayden (who also incidentally look nothing alike!) with the girls. 

My dad has continued the tradition that my Papa started of dressing up as Santa every Christmas. 
Can you tell Sophie sticks out her tongue when she gets nervous? ;)

Campbell giving Santa a cautious hug.

All the cousins. Poor Burke. He actually started running a fever during this particular celebration. 
Not a happy camper. 

Still not quite old enough to get into opening gifts, but fun nonetheless.

Burke visiting his favorite friends, Papa's ponies. It's so much fun watching him grow into a little boy. This kid can't get enough of horses, doggies, trucks, and being rowdy in the great outdoors.

Little boy, big country.

Little man checking out the loot.

When I first took this picture, I almost deleted it because of the blur. However, after looking at it more closely, I really fell in love with it. All the rush and madness of opening gifts, but the light and happiness in her face really is what Christmas is all about. 

Burke was in tractor heaven at Papa and Nana's. He even added "tra-tra" (tractor) to his vocabulary after this Christmas celebration.

Campbell's favorite gift from Kyle's parents most definitely had to be her new pair of boots. She wore them around all night and kept calling herself Cowgirl Campbell. :)

Our little cowgirls getting ready to go feed the cows with Papa and Daddy. They also made their first trip to the co-op to visit with all of the local farmers. They were a big hit, as you can imagine. 

Burke stayed behind with me and Nana to spend some quality time with his tractors and trucks.

After every Christmas, although it's exhausting, my heart is beyond full. On our way back from Taloga, I asked Kyle if he ever felt like our life was sometimes too good to be true. We and our families are far from perfect, but at the end of the day we have so many people that love us, three healthy, incredible children, and so much to look forward to every year. 

I'm so excited to experience all the fun and love 2014 brings!  


P.S. Christmas 2012. It goes by too fast.

Monday, December 23, 2013

New Year's Resolution: Read More

Ever since I can remember, I've been a "goal setter." You could blame this on my first born-ness, my Type A-ness, my neuroses. Most likely all of these combined. Which is a deadly combination for a future diagnosis of OCD. And I'm well on my way, my friends. 

Any good goal setter most likely is also a New Year's Resolutions setter, as well. And I hesitate to tell you all that I may or may not have typed out a list of New Year's resolutions for several years, color coded and categorized. See? Well on my way. Upon having kids, and well, a life, my typed out list of resolutions has ceased to exist. In fact, having kids (in my case, three that are three and under) has a funny way of making you forget that other humans on the planet are able to focus on themselves and their ambitions for more than 5 minutes in a row. 

However, I'm hoping this year will be a little different. Anyone who is a mom knows how easy it is to use your kids as an excuse. And I've been guilty of doing this on more than one occasion. But at some point, enough is enough. I've always believed that we make time for what is really important, no matter how "busy" we are. So I suppose my biggest resolution this year would be just that. To make time in my life for the things that are life-giving, uplifting, and fulfilling.

So on the short list of things I hope to improve about myself, I intend for these resolutions to begin with what I put into my mind. I have found that the times in my life where I am most aware, happy, and myself is when I am challenging my mind. And like I told my students a million times a day, that all begins with a book. I'm not sure if I am putting a number on how many books I'd like to read this year, although God knows I am itching to type out some sort of a spreadsheet for this (HELP ME). I think I will just begin with cutting out a few Real Housewives shows and instead commit some time in the evenings to filling my thoughts with things other than wishing my husband was a plastic surgeon or that I had Lisa Vanderpump's bank account. Baby steps.

Am I the only person who loves a stack of books on her nightstand? Even though I have been a serious slacker in the reading department lately, looking at the high pile of reading material makes me feel like even though I may not pick one of them up for a month, if a burglar breaks in, by golly he sure will think I'm some sort of scholar. 

Currently there are two stacks on mine. This stack would be some of the books I've read over the last six months or so. I thoroughly enjoyed Seven and Sparkly Green Earrings. Both of these books made me laugh out loud and were incredibly inspiring. I agree with the basic tenets of Love and Logic, but can one say that they thoroughly enjoy a parenting book (bleh)? The Happiness Project was very thought provoking, but not the greatest book I've ever read. 

And this would be the stack of books I am hoping to read in the next few months. The jury is out on whether or not I will finish One Thousand Gifts. I might be the first person to read this and say that I find it really, really hard to get through, wordy, and hard to wrap my brain around. Ann Voskamp is undoubtedly an insanely gifted writer, I just can't seem to make myself finish it. Am I the only one? I have already started Give Them Grace and really love it so far. Boundaries is a book I've had since college, but it came up recently in one of my bible study discussions and reminded me how much I could use a re-reading of it. Clean is a book about clean living/eating a friend of mine highly recommended, but if we're being honest, it scares the crap out of me to begin it. I'm sincerely afraid I might start neurotically flipping my lid about all of the toxins we are putting in our body, thus greatly decreasing the amount of Sonic grilled cheeses my children consume, and it might convince me to start doing really crazy things like concocting my own laundry detergent and cloth diapering Burke. And these are just things I am not ready to be inconvenienced by. Maybe 2015 can be the year the Nevels go all crazy organic? Doubtful, but we shall see...

So there you have it. I share these with you because I really enjoy getting new book recommendations. I hope to incorporate some good fiction in with these, as well. 

Hope everyone has a fantastic start to 2014!