Not Your Average Mom Of 5

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A Letter To My Younger Self

If you could go back in time, would you change anything? I feel like that is a statement we often use "I wish I would have...." "I wish I didn't". It haunts us sometimes. I have spent years thinking and pestering over decisions I have and haven't made. I have been so hard on myself at times.

Since I met Payton, I realized that I wouldn't change a thing. If things didn't happen the way they did, I never would never have met him, I wouldn't have found this amazing love, and I possibly could be without my sweet family. The decisions that I made have led to some really tough lessons, but they were lessons that had to be learned to get to where I am. 

Even though I wouldn't change a thing, I wish I could have a letter from older me, guiding me on some things. So here goes guys. 





Dear Laura,

I know life has been hard on you, but always remember who you are and where you came from. Don't stress so hard on earning your father's love, in the end, he won't be there for you. Taking everything to heart is something you will always do and trying to find the love he didn't give you will end in a lot of heartache. Your strength will get you through the times, but many tears will still fall. 
Moving from a large city to a small town may be scary, but it will be worth it. In the small town, you will meet the friends who stand by your side for a lifetime, learn your love of horses and make some of your favorite memories. 



As a child, you and your dad will be close, but as you grow older, your bond will fade and eventually disappear as you grow into adulthood. Don't let the hurt emotions rule your decision making. Hold tight to the memories he gave you and character he gave you, they mean so much throughout your life and will come into play as an adult and when you find real love. 



Preteen Laura will have some tough lessons. Eighth grade is full of bullying and you will take it with you for a long time. You will learn that being friends with popular kids is not fun and when some are jealous of you, they will go to any extent to hurt you. I am sure some of them are still huge bitches, so let it go. Don't let it make you feel so self conscious throughout life. Also, this is when you hurt your hip in cheer. Go to the doctor, don't tough out the pain. A hip replacement in your 30's will be the result. 

Teenager Laura is a nightmare. Drinking and partying is super unnecessary, give it a break ok? You are so smart and drop all of your honors classes and eventually school, please don't go down that path. This is when you give up on something that will haunt you through life, riding horses. Don't do it. Your talent is a once in a lifetime talent, don't let it go to waste. You will ALWAYS regret this decision. 


And teenage Laura, don't be so hard on your mom. Someday, you will be very close. Do not push her away when you need her the most. 


Becoming a mother will be so hard for you. Shortly after you find out you are pregnant, you will find out about your boyfriend's drug addiction. You cannot save him. You should know this ahead of time, or maybe no, you wouldn't have Makenzee if you would have known. Just know that you CAN do it on your own and you will. 


Let's talk about married Laura. I always say if i could change one thing, it would be to not have been dumb enough to be in such a controlling and emotionally abusive marriage, but I know without it, I wouldn't have Caleb, Connor and Keegan. One thing I would tell myself is to not settle on joint custody during the divorce just to escape. It will come back to get you in the future. Know that no matter how low someone makes you feel, you are always enough. 




Finally, current Laura. Gosh, what to tell myself at this point in life. It is complicated and difficult, but never forget how much love you are surrounded by. You have the love and support of the most amazing man in the world, you have 5 beautiful children and an amazing family. Keep on the path you are on, everything is working out amazing. 

Love, 
You







Otamot Pizza Stuffed Twice Baked Potatoes

*This is a sponsored post by Otamot. All words and opinions are my own.*



Let's face it, easy family meals, that contain enough vegetables to keep parents happy, can be so difficult to find and make! I was so excited when I read about Otamot! It is designed by a parent specifically for picky eaters and ensuring that they get the proper vitamins and nutrients without disturbing the flavor. Otamot is packed with vegetables, vitamins and antioxidants with NO added sugar! It is an easy win win for any family.

My kids are all huge spaghetti fans so making them spaghetti with Otamot sauce was the first thing that we did. Then I started messing around trying to think of new ways to put Otamot into different meals so maximize that benefits of it more often. In our home, pizza and baked potatoes are a huge hit so I figured why not combine them? A twice baked potato that is stuffed with pizza yumminess and Otamot sauce was my answer! Even better, pizza stuffed potato that contains Vitamin A, B1, B2, B3, B6, B12, D, E, Lycopene and HEALTHY fats.





My favorite part of this recipe was the fact that I didn't have to shop for a ton of ingredients. All I used was russet potatoes, butter, oregano, Otamot Sauce, Mozzarella cheese and pepperonis. Simple right? AND I wasn't slaving away in the kitchen! Throw the potatoes in the oven, go on with whatever else and then mix everything up and heat it all quickly! The longest part was the oven time, but I was able to do laundry and cleaning while they baked. Some people do make baked potatoes in the microwave so this is always an option, I personally don't because I have read that microwaving food drains nutrients from it.



Ingredients

  •  6 Russet Potatoes
  • 1/2 stick of butter (I use grassfed, unsalted)
  • 1 teaspoon oregano
  • 1/2 jar of Otamot Sauce
  • 1 1/2 Cup Mozzarella cheese
  • Pepperonis
Directions
  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees
  2. Wash all potatoes and use a fork to poke holes in them
  3. Bake for 45 minutes
  4. Remove potatoes from the oven (do not turn it off) and let cool. Once they are cool, cut in half lengthwise and spoon insides into a bowl. 
  5. Mix potato insides with your butter, oregano and 1 cup of Mozzarella cheese. Add about 1/2 a jar of Otamot and stir everything until combined.
  6. Spoon your mixture back into the potato skins. 
  7. Spoon a small spoonful of sauce on to the top and sprinkle the last 1/2 cup of cheese over tops.
  8. Place pepperonis on top
  9. Bake for 15 min
  10. ENJOY!!
I couldn't believe how much my kids LOVED these Pizza Stuffed Twice Baked Potatoes! They are now a regular in our home! Try them out for yourself and let me know how your family likes them!!

-Laura

PinkBlush for the WIN

*This is a sponsored post by PinkBlush. All thoughts and opinions are my own*

 


So lets talk mom fashion. How many super cute Instagrammers are out there? With their adorable hats and unique outfits? That is definitely not me. Half of my closet is just plain t-shirts and the other half is sweaters, half of that is stuff I have been wearing since high school! And hats? Ball caps are my go to, I have a bunch and love to wear them. Pathetic, right? But lets face it, if you are anything like me, shopping trips consist of addressing the needs of my children who seem to never stop growing! Going to the store for things for me typically is the grocery store! 

That being said, I was really excited to find PinkBlush! They not only carry women's clothing, but also carry Maternity Clothing and Plus Sized Women's Clothing! I totally wish I would have known when I was pregnant (one of the 5 times! haha) because all of their options are absolutely beautiful. I have totally enjoyed sprucing up my wardrobe which was WAYYYY overdue!

For busy mom's and women in general, having the option to shop for our clothing online is a perfect asset. I have always been a tad nervous because I have previously ordered and had one of those nightmare experiences where the clothing looks like it would fit my daughter and not me. Please tell me I am not the only one! PinkBlush has a sizing chart that is so easy to use and all of the clothes were TRUE to size! I can't even tell you how freaked I was to order my jeans in particular. 



I have to say, I was totally overwhelmed with the outfit and clothing choices on the PinkBlush site! So many amazing choices, but I knew I wanted something versatile that fit my style and could easily dress up or down. I opted to order the Basic Skinny Jeans because they are the perfect style! I knew they would be so easy to dress up or dress down, the perfect jean for any occasion. I can pair them with winter boots, sandals, flats and heels! I can even rock them with tennis shoes. The fit of the PinkBlush Basic Skinny Jeans is PERFECT, they stretch to fit any body size and hug at all the right curves. I really like the way the back pockets are angled! 



I knew the moment I saw the Black Button Ribbed Tank Top that it was the perfect top for me and the outfit I had envisioned. Yet again, it contains the ability to dress up or dress down. The fabric is really great quality, soft and comfortable. I am obsessed with the way it fits, not too tight and not too loose. The unbuttoned look really gives the Black Button Ribbed Tank Top the perfect sex appeal to look classy with a hint of sexy, in a very subtle manner. And being and Arizona girl who sweats excessively, I knew that a tank top was EXACTLY what I wanted and needed. PinkBlush for the win, am I right?



Y'all! The final touch of my outfit I knew had to be a kimono. I have always wanted a long one and have searched up down for the perfect long kimono with no luck. Imagine my excitement when I found the PERFECT PinkBlush Green Floral Print Long Kimono! There it was staring right at me with all of it's beauty. I knew the moment I saw it that this was the center piece of my outfit. Again, it give the dressy or casual effect perfect. I can wear it to dinner or even the grocery store. I built my entire outfit around this kimono choice. 

When my new PinkBlush Green Floral Print Long Kimono arrived, I knew I had made the perfect decision. It is not too long and not to short. It is not too thick and not too thin. It is not to dressy and not too casual. It is my favorite item in my closet, my go to, my top pick. How adorable will this look in the winter with boots? But it is perfect now, with flats or sandals! 



It is safe to say, I am one happy and chic mama! Atleast in this outfit! haha! I will tell you this, PinkBlush IS my new go to online shopping site! Hope you guys check it out, can't wait to see your pics! Make sure you tag me @noturaveragemomof5 ! 

-Laura

Kids Free Vacation List

Traveling is something I have always wanted to do more of and haven't been able to do too much of. I was lucky enough to live in Hawaii for close to a year and lived the ultimate vacation. Beach trips daily, perfect hiking trails and views no matter where I went. So many amazing food options on sites to take in. 

I can't wait to visit more beautiful places and feed my soul the beauty that the world has to offer. Payton and I have devised a list of our top 5 places that we want to travel together(kid free). We obviously want to go to so many more places, but we figured it was best to start with 5 and once we cross those off, add onto it.



- Santorini, Greece

Santorini a volcanic island known for the dramatic views, iconic architecture, and glittering waters. The sunsets are described as magical and breathtaking. Sanatorini is home to some of the oldest vineyards in the world. Wine in paradise, yes please. The best time to visit is between April and November so one of these summers, catch us in Greece! It has always been a dream destination for me. I am so happy that my amazing man wants to share the experience with me. 

- South Lake Tahoe, California/Nevada

Lake Tahoe is known not only as a ski town, but for its beautiful beaches and crystal blue waters. Home to some of the most beautiful hiking trails and waterfalls! We have been talking about visiting for awhile now and can't wait until the day comes that we do! Spring, summer, winter and fall are all perfect times to visit!

- Washington and Oregon coast

We actually had a trip planned to Boise for Memorial day and fire season kick off this past year, but had to cancel last minute when our custody case began. After Boise, we had planned to drive to Seattle then down the coastline of Washington and Oregon. Although I have previously lived in Washington, I didn't get to explore the coast and have always wanted to and it has always been a dream of Payton's. Fingers crossed for next year!

- Assateague Island, Maryland/Virgina

So growing up as a child, I read these stories about an island with wild horses. As a child who grew up with horses, these were my favorite books! Little did I know such a place really does exist. Assateague Island is known for wild horses bathing on the beaches. Sooooo this is one of my top travel dreams and in hand, Payton now gets to live it with me :)

- Mammoth Lake, California

Payton has been to Mammoth, but I haven't. It is somewhere we would love to go together! Summer offers so many amazing hiking opportunities and winter looks like it would be so absolutely magical. Mammoth is known for its breathtaking views and amazing skiing. No matter the time of year we go, neither one of us can wait!


-Laura

Must Have Lily Jade Diaper Bag

This post is sponsored by Lily Jade. All thoughts and opinions are completely my own.

Hey Guys!

I want to talk diaper bags today! Finding a cute, functional diaper bag can seriously be a nightmare. Let's face it, we don't all want to wear Mickey Mouse around! And we don't all want a diaper bag that matches our babies and kids, not us. I have literally struggled through 4 kids with limited diaper bag choices and purchased a million because the quality is just never up to par!

With Rhett, I knew that I just had to have something better than what I had used before. I was sick of carrying a diaper bag and purse around and trying to track down 5 kids! I needed something that would HOLD all of the necessities that a mom of 5 has to carry around. AND I wanted to make sure that it was good quality and actually accentuated my outfits. Why does being a mom have to look like a drag?

Imagine my happiness when I found Lily Jade! Guys. I have been eyeballing mother's carrying similar bags, wondering what amazing bag they were carrying. I finally spotted Lily Jade on Instagram and knew one of their bags was exactly what I needed.



I opted to get the Lily Jade Elizabeth Diaper Bag. It is one of their larger sized bags, but can be carried backpack style or traditionally, over one arm. I LOVE having options when carrying a bag so this was a perfect option for me!



The quality of my Lily Jade bag blew me away. Lily Jade uses premium grade leathers. They tumble the full grain leather to bring out the texture instead of sanding and stamping a pattern. No two bags are exactly the same. Lily Jade bags are made to last! All stitching is detailed and reinforced. When I took the bag out of the box, I got the most amazing whiff of real leather scent. Having grown up with horses, this is a smell I know well and I know means quality. 



It is safe to say that the cost of a Lily Jade Bag is well worth it for the amazing quality bag that you are purchasing. Now lets talk about space! The bag is huge on the inside and contains so many pockets! So perfect for bottles and drinks on the go as well as snacks, diapers, change of clothes, wipes, you name it! The bag comes with a soft diaper bag insert so you can quickly add and remove your child's things for different outings. I love that is quickly and easily accommodates what I am doing!



If those reasons aren't all enough, check out all of the bag options for yourself!! Check out the Lily Jade site yourself! I promise, you will love this bag as much as I have!

-Laura

Keto Chocolate Chip Cookies


  


Not sure about you guys, but sometime Payton gets a sweet tooth and finding #KETO approved treats can be difficult. I have been on the search of a good chocolate chip cookies recipe that fits his diet and I actually enjoy! Let's face it, not all sugar free, low carb food is actually GOOD!



I found these KETO chocolate chip cookies super simple to make and EASY (after I combined a zillion recipes tries lol)! I want to point on that I am making the transition to all NATURAL, grass fed products so next time, I would use different brands of products in my ingredients, but still the same measurements of products.




It is super important to remember to mix your dry ingredients first and THEN mix in the wet ingredients. I did soften my butter in the microwave because it was frozen. I would recommend leaving it on the counter as opposed to microwaving. Tho it gave the same effect, I have read terrible things about microwaving food and loss of nutrients (yes, I am one of THOSE people).



Ingredients

  • 3/4 Cup butter - softened
  • 3/4 Cup of Brown Sugar
  • 3 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 Eggs
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder (I was out so used baking soda instead)
  • 1/2 teaspoon table salt
  • 2 1/2 Cups almond flour
  • 1 1/4 Cup Chocolate Chips
Directions 
  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees
  • Line baking sheet with parchment paper - I prefer using parchment paper on my baking sheet over greasing. 
  • Measure almond flour into mixing bowl. Add baking soda and salt
  • In a separate bowl (preferably a mixer) - Cream together brown sugar and butter then slowly add eggs and vanilla extract. Mix 
  • Slowly mix dry ingredients into the creamed mixture into completely combined. Hand stir your chocolate chips in. 
  • Using a spoon - drop spoon drop sized cookies onto your baking sheet - I use the spoon to flatten them out a bit. 
  • Bake 11-13 min or until the cookies are golden brown. 
  • Cookies save about 3 days on the counter, but are best eaten the same day
Hope you love them as much as we do!

-Laura 


Drumsticks Cereal a Breakfast Staple

This post is sponsored by General Mills. All thoughts and opinions are my own. 


With 5 kids home during most of the summer, easy breakfasts are a must! Even though I am in Northern Arizona, it still gets hot so I prefer NOT to use the oven or stove! I love having cereal on hand for the entire family! And isn't it great that you don't really ever have to worry about cereal going bad before it is gone? Or is that just my kids?? Doubtful. 
 
We recently found NEW Drumstick Cereals at our local Walmart and couldn't be more excited about adding it to our cereal collection! We love having the wonderful flavor available right there in an easy to pour box for our morning or even afternoon cereal bowls because lets face it, sometimes we even have cereal for dinner!



I am sure my kids aren't the only cereal fans around. Mine love to drink the milk out of the bowl when they are done! Even Rhett is a cereal kid (we feed it to him pretty soggy for now)! Drumstick Cereal is a wonderful addition to our current cereal line up, giving the kids even more options and choices at breakfast time!






Drumstick Cereal was super easy to be found in my local Walmart or online! They have two flavors! Vanilla and Mint Chocolate! The Vanilla is my favorite, but Connor and Keegan love the Mint Chocolate! Head on over to your local Walmart and find them for yourself! Trust me, you will thank me once you and your family find out how amazing the flavor is!


So join me and have fun summer breakfasts with this ice cream inspired cereal! Thank me later y'all!


-Laura

Bathroom Sink Upgrade

**This is a sponsored post on behalf of Dorel Living. All thoughts and opinions are my own**

When we bought our house, I knew right away that we were going to have a huge issue in the master bathroom. Why someone opted for a pedestal sink in a master bathroom mystifies me. So going into purchasing the home, we started looking at different sink and vanity options for a TINY bathroom.





That is the sink we were dealing with, for 3 LONG months. We finally found the perfect colored, sized and style of sink through Dorel Living. We opted on the Dorel Living Otum 36” Vanity! It took forever for us to settle on a size and style since we were working with such a limited space and wanted to upgrade the mirror to one that we already owned and matches our bedroom set. I was pretty dead set on a gray and Payton was pretty deadset on a dark brown (guess who won LOL)!

Removing the old sink was pretty effortless. Since it was just a pedestal sink, it eaily came up off of the flooring and detached from the wall. Our biggest issue was that the piping didn't match up to the new sink so that required to buy a few extra supplies to hook it up. Still, it was very easy.




When our package arrived from Dorel Living, I was relieved to find that our vanity arrived assembled! Woo Hoo!!! I was super worried about having to put it together, I seriously lack patience in that area! 

It did not include the fixtures which was how we wanted it. This gave us the opportunity to get the vanity we wanted and match our fixtures to the shower. It would have been so difficult otherwise. We found the perfect sink fixtures and it ended up so beautiful. 



We were really happy to find that the color of the sink was EXACTLY what the photo showed on the Dorel Living website pictures! For us, that meant that is matched our mirror and bedroom perfectly. To have drawers, cabinets and counter space has been so life changing for our bathroom. Not only do we love our bathroom transformation, we know that it will help the resale value of the home! 




One downfall was that we did have to remove our towel rack and toilet paper roller. We did know that going into deciding to put in a vanity. We have a towel hook on the back of the bathroom door (for not, we plan to remove that and install barn doors) and still need to purchase a free standing toilet paper roll holder. For now we just set it on the back of the toilet!

Can't wait to show you guys more projects that we are doing to the new house!

-Laura

Don't forget to check out all of the products that Dorel Living has to offer!

Keto Taco Stuffed Peppers

If you guys have been following me much, you know that Payton has been #keto since August of 2018. We are consistently trying to incorporate new meals into his diet that is family friendly as well.

We have made stuffed peppers a few times, but I recently decided I wanted to try a taco style stuffed pepper since I LOVE Mexican food and am totally missing taco Tuesday!



I opted to use ground turkey over ground beef and obviously, because of family size, I used 2 pounds of ground turkey. He is pretty keto strict so I didn't add corn which I normally would have done (corn contains too much sugar).



It was really very simple from there and SOOOO good! Everyone in the family loved it. I added some cauliflower rice to our meal to finish it off!

Ingredients

  • 2 Pound Ground Turkey
  • 1 Large Yellow onion diced (I buy it pre diced and frozen)
  • 2 cloves minced garlic
  • 1 packet Taco Seasoning
  • 7 Bell Peppers (Make sure at

    least 1 is green)
  • 3 Cups (Aprx) shredded mexican cheese
  • Sour cream to garnish
  • Salsa 

Directions
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees
  2. Cut tops off of all red bell peppers (6) and clean the contents out. Place peppers on a greased baking pan, hallow side up, for 10 minutes.
  3. In a frying pan, add ground turkey, onions, diced green bell pepper and garlic for 10-15 min
  4. Add taco seasoning and 1 1/3 cup of water and bring the mixture to a boil. Simmer for 7 minutes. 
  5. In the bottom of each bell pepper, add a small amount of shredded cheese.
  6. On top of the cheese, add the ground turkey. 
  7. Top each bell pepper with shredded cheese
  8. Bake until cheese is melted
  9. Garnish your taco stuffed bell pepper as you please and enjoy!!
If you decide to make these, let me know how you like them!!!

-Laura
 

State Park Bucket List - First 5

Traveling is something we haven't done enough of and can't wait to do more of! With 5 kids, it is pricey and less of a vacation on us, but they memories are unforgettable. We have a list of places we want to take the kids, but are hoping to start with State Park destinations since we all love nature and the outdoors so much!


Grand Canyon 2016 

Read on for our First 5 Bucket List State Park Vacations -


1. Channel Islands National Park
California
Who wouldn't love to visit a national park AND see the ocean? Maybe not as exciting for those that are near the beach or ocean and see it frequently! For us, it would be such an amazing and breathtaking experience!!

They offer boat trips, an animal sanctuary and are even known for blue whale sightings!

2. Redwood National Park
California
Trees, trees, trees! I have always wanted to see the grand trees that are present in the Redwood National Park! I know that the kids would absolutely love to see the GIANT trees! The Redwood National Park is known for having the tallest trees in the WORLD!

The end of Redwood National Park, Fern Canyon, even has a creek the kids can play in!



3. Everglades National Park
Florida
Swamps, wetlands and alligators! The kids would totally FREAK out to see a REAL life alligator! I have always wanted to take them on an airboat to explore! Not sure if I would be more excited or them!

The Everglades offers guided tours, birdwatches, air boat tours, canoes and even bike rentals and trails!

4. Zion National Park
Utah
With 15 miles of canyons, there is tons of room for the entire family to explore the red and tan colored natural wonder that Zion National Park has to offer. With as much space as Zion offers to explore, the entire family will be able to find something to love about Zion National Park!

Zion offers many many paved hikes and swimming/splashing areas for the family. To top it all off, there is a free shuttle!



5. Yosemite National Park
California/Nevada Boarder
747,000 acres of clear streams, waterfalls and cliff is just some of what Yosemite National Park has to offer visitors! This is a park that has been on my personal bucket list for years! I can't wait to explore it with the family!

Once we make it to these State Parks, we will be adding more (lets not overwhelm ourselves hahah)! Can't wait to share our experiences with you as we get to visit!!!

- Laura