My adventures with faith, family, and food

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Wow. I really can’t comprehend the fact that I have a 6 year old. I remember the day she was born, the next couple of years are a blur, then she started pre-k, and now she is in Kindergarten. The comment I hear about Riley most often is that “she is a mini-you.” And she is. In so many ways, she is just like me: the good, and the bad. I remember my mother would utter the words that all mom’s probably have of “I hope you have a child just like you!” To which my response would always be: “Me too, so then she will be PERFECT!” 

Now, I know that she isn’t perfect. She challenges me daily, and I don’t always “win,” but I am constantly in awe of all the wonderful gifts that God has given her and with the person that she already is and will become. 

Riley is a thinker. She has this great ability to be able to see a situation and process it above her maturity level. She seeks out others that are hurting and will try to make it better. She loves puzzles, drawing, and art all together. 

Riley is determined. Even at 2 years old, she would push her little brother around in his high chair to the counter so that he could retrieve whatever it was she wanted on the counter. She will argue til’ she is blue in the face about something SHE believes to be true. 

Riley LOVES sparkles. We are constantly going back and forth about what is age appropriate for a now, 6 year old. Girl loves to be shiny! 

Riley is friendly. She doesn’t meet a stranger and that is just the way that I like it. Of course, then she wants me to give our name and address to everyone we meet because “[they] are friends now and we need to play together.”

Riley has been a “difficult child to parent” here lately. (I heard that a time or two growing up 🙂 ) Yet in the midst of our parenting battles, we are excited to see such independence that we are prayerfully trying to foster into a vibrant young woman. Being a parent has absolutely been one of the hardest and most rewarding jobs I have ever had, and I am so thankful that God saw fit to give Ryne and I Riley Anne exactly when he did. I love you Riley. Happy 6th Birthday!


On the Tuesday before Riley’s actual birthday, we had a couple of friends join us after school for dinner and ice-cream before their Christmas program that evening. Riley had a blast and I loved the simplicity of having two friends over for an afternoon!



Later in the week, we headed down to see my parents. (and for a friends wedding) There was a small crowd there waiting to surprise Riley with a La-la Loopsie party. (Thanks mom! You are the best! Everything was SO cute)

I love how in all of these pictures you can see pure JOY in her smile. It was great!




Sam insisted on delivering the gifts to his sister. He is becoming quite the gentleman!








    We have many fond memories of our time at LeTourneau. One of the things that I am most thankful for, are the lifelong friendships that we made. Some of our dearest friends are Thomas and Christy! They have had quite the adventure since Thomas graduated a couple of years ago. He has been working a contract job overseas off and on since that time, while Christy was at home with 3 boys under the age of 5! We were excited to celebrate Thomas’s birthday this past weekend and celebrate that he is HOME and home for good! They are done with their time apart and he will be starting a new job state side soon! (which is SUCH an answer to prayer) His mom put together an awesome Star Wars themed party for Thomas. We were excited to see some of our other friends and old neighbors their too! 





Me, Sarah, and Christy  (Sarah’s Baby boy will be here in 6-8 weeks!!!)





All of the decorations were ADORABLE!!




Happy Birthday Thomas!! We are SOO glad that you are home. We love you guys!

Baby Bump

Today I am 19 weeks pregnant! The school year is going by SO fast, but I feel like this pregnancy is going by SO slow! I am so excited about meeting Baby Bergren. I keep thinking that this time next year, we will be snuggling up inside from the cold with a baby!! I had a midwife appointment this past week, so here are a few baby bump pictures and an update! (most of this is because I can’t remember AT ALL with Riley and Sam so this is mostly for me 🙂

How far along? 19 weeks today

Total weight gain: 6.5 lbs  (I REALLY don’t want to gain like I did with Sammy Boy… So I am paying more attention this go around)

How i’m feeling: Lately I am getting short of breath. I don’t think I am carrying that high, so I kind of think my lack of consistent exercise during this pregnancy is catching up with me. I am trying to get back into a groove before I get too much bigger 🙂  I am starting to notice changes in my lower, round ligaments too!

Maternity Clothes: I finally bought a few things this past week. I can still where a couple of my jeans and a lot of my tops, but I am starting to need something with a  little more give 🙂

Craving: I want pretty much any and everything. If I see it or talk about it, I want it. Right now, I want sushi or banana pudding 🙂

Sleep: So far, I am still sleeping really great. I am not getting up as much as I did early on. I really don’t like waking up hot/cold. My biggest issue is that I sleep too well and don’t want to get up!

Best moment this week: Hearing the heartbeat. It still sounds just as wonderful and amazing as the first time we heard it.

Movement: I continue to read that second or third time moms can really feel things by now, but I am not feeling lots of movement. I have felt a couple of “jumps” that I just knew was baby Bergren, but now I am not so sure…  So, not a lot of movement yet!

Gender: We are still going to wait until we deliver to find out the gender; however, I have a feeling it is a boy. (Of course, then I see tons of little girl things and start dreaming of pink, bows, and lace)

Labor signs: Not yet. (and not for a while)

Mood: I am all over the place. I feel badly for my kids. I feel like my patience is out the window! I think it has something to do with me keeping it all in during the day and letting loose when I get home… Sorry familia. Oh and tears. Lordy. I am most definitely a crier!

What I am looking forward to: Our first and only sonogram will be in the next few weeks. (Unless there is something we see that would require more.) I can’t wait to get our first picture of Baby Bergren!

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Birthday Party

Today we braved the cold and headed into town to a birthday party for a classmate of Riley’s. It was a painting party for a little boy where they all painted snakes. It was super cute, crazy, and a LOT of fun! I love to watch their creativity at work. It was VERY hard for me not to stand behind them and give them “advice,” but I am a BIG believer in letting them make their own creations just the way they see fit! Riley named her snake: Sally, and Sam named his: Howard. (wow, a different name than Roger 🙂 )   In the pictures you can really see their concentration.

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    I must confess. The days leading up to Thanksgiving I was quite anxious about Thanksgiving. Not because of house cleaning, and preparations, but because Ryne and I made the decision to stay home. Of course we wanted to be with our family, but LONG story short- it was what we thought was best for us. Ryne ended up being gone on a trip from the Friday before Thanksgiving until the Tuesday before Thanksgiving. The kids and I were so excited to finally have dad home after being stuck inside while it was cold and rainy for almost five days! He was home in time for dinner and then headed back out Wednesday morning. ALL of that to say, it was so nice to all be together Thanksgiving morning. We stayed in our pajama’s until about 11:00 and finally got up, showered, and ready for our day. 


    We have some friends that decided to stay home vs travel as well. We decided to team up. They made the turkey, stuffing, and pies, and I made the sides. (which I had already prepared the day before) 


When we arrived, the table was set- name cards and all 🙂



The turkey looked SO good and it tasted even better! Thanks Stephen!!



The stuffing was great too! Stephen made it out of gluten free bagels. I was so impressed with his culinary creativity and it was fantastic!






This was the first side that I made. I was nervous because I had never made any of them before. However, this green bean casserole was great. I used steamed turnips, sautéed mushrooms, s & p, milk, and caramelized onions to make the sauce that surrounded the green beans. I will certainly be making it again. 



This recipe was GREAT. Seriously. I know I may seem a little cauliflower crazy, but this recipe is one of the best yet. If you are wanting to try something new- start here. The coconut milk made this dish incredibly creamy and rich. We did not have any leftovers 🙂








The pies were so yummy! I was thankful because I had attempted a pumpkin pie the week before and failed miserably. I would rather eat them at a friends house than burn them in my kitchen. 





The last side I made was mashed butternut squash. Mine looked nothing like the picture in the recipe. Everyone said they enjoyed it, but truth be told, I don’t really love sweet sides that should be savory. 




Today was a good day. A productive day- or at least the first half. It wore me out so much, I have spent the second half of the day being lazy. There are no pictures to document all the work this morning because I was in my jammies, enjoying pandora, with my hair in a messy bun.

I spent the past few days trying to prepare for my first crockpot/freezer cooking by reading TONS of pinterest links and making a shopping and cooking list. There were a LOT of good tips about how to prepare, but ultimately, I did what worked best for me, my schedule, and my kitchen. 🙂

Here are some thoughts about my experience:

  • I LOVE it. I will most certainly be doing this again and hopefully perfecting it before baby comes in May 🙂
  • I read that you should wear an apron- which is a great idea! (But I just throw a towel over my shoulder like my dad always does)
  • I liked to chop/sort for each recipe as I went. I read that you should do all the “prep” the night before, but as far as I was concerned, that just meant another night of dirtying dishes. Besides, I do not have a lot of counter space, so I couldn’t lay everything out like others did. I don’t have enough bowls to chop more than a few things at a time…  I liked doing it one meal at a time so I could stop and: put a load of laundry in, police whatever my kids were arguing about, get games down for the kids, wash a few dishes, etc.
  • Have a mid-morning break and get a snack to keep your momentum up!
  • While you are at it, make dinner because you will be too tired after cooking- or go out to eat 🙂

Here are some of the recipes that I made. I will post about them/how I liked them after we eat each one!

Spinach Stuffed Cube Steak

Asian Wings

Fall Harvest Chicken and Fiesta Lime Chicken

Beef Stew

Peach Chipotle Chicken

Curry Chicken

Meatloaf (I basically made my own meatloaf recipe and froze it)

And I made up my last one: An italian beef bake of sorts. I browned some meat, added mushrooms, zucchini, onions, and broth.

And lastly: according to my last bullet, I made dinner for tonight and I CANNOT wait to eat it! I don’t know how it taste yet, but it looked GREAT!

Loaded Cauliflower Casserole

*** Update: The casserole was FANTASTIC. I will be making it again for sure. I used bell pepper instead of green onion and I only used 2 chicken breast that I chopped in my food processor.

I have a hard time believing that things are purely coincidental. I lean more towards believing and being in awe of how God seems to somehow bring seemingly random things together at just the right time. These past two weekends have been perfect examples of that. However, I am still trying to sift through all my emotions and thoughts about last weekend so I will share about my crazy day today…

About 2 months ago the kids and I were in Target. LONG story short (at least for this part 🙂 ) I saw this elderly woman trying to work one of the kiosks at the front. It seemed obvious to me that she was confused and unable to find what she was looking for, so I offered to help. She was looking for a wedding registry and couldn’t figure it out. As I tried to help, her husband came in, and naturally, my children engaged in constant conversation. I don’t even remember what all they talked about, but at one point in time Sam said: “Ok. Mom. This is my new friend, Mr. Jim. He said he would read me a book if I came to his house. He loves to read and so do I, so I need you to give him your phone number because we are friends.”

The couple both seemed delighted by Riley and Sam and their “amazing vocabulary.” (I just like to talk a lot :)) We all began to talk. Jim’s company, years ago, had a King Air and he enjoyed talking with me about Ryne and his new job. I talked with Mrs. Joann about where we were from, what we did, etc. She told me that most of their kids lived in different states. One thing led to another and we exchanged numbers.        Fast forward a couple of weeks, and we (the kids and I) went to their house to visit and for dinner. The kids insisted that we do “our thing” we do at dinner. (we go around the table and share one thing that was the worst part of our day or something that made us sad, and the best part of our day or something that made us happy. It has been a GREAT conversation starter for us and we have learned a lot about Riley and Sam we wouldn’t have known otherwise…) I felt a load of bricks hit my chest when Mr. Jim said the worst part of his day was calling his daughters to tell him he had lung cancer again. Turns out he had found out the day before and they had called all their children, hours before we came over. The next bit of the evening was spent asking questions, praying, and of course, Jim read Sam a book.

Fast forward to today. The kids and I were in Tyler running some errands. I was selling some things and was supposed to meet up with someone who was a no show. I decided to take the kids to Chik-fil-a so I could use their wifi and try to get ahold of her…  While we were eating this family walked in. I noticed them because they had 6 children (later I found out ranging from 2-12) and they all looked SO CUTE!! I remember thinking “Goodness… how did that mom get up, and get all 6 of her kids looking so adorable? And they are all so well mannered!!”  (I rolled out of bed, threw clothes on today, and prayed I didn’t see anyone I knew :))  So just before I left, I stopped the woman and told her that she had such a beautiful family. Her children were so well behaved and cute to boot! We exchanged small conversation. She asked where I was from, where did I live, etc. Her husband piped in: “You just moved to Jacksonville? Your husband is a pilot? – Do you Know Jim and Joann?”

Turns out they are neighbors to our new, dear friends, Mr. Jim and Mrs. Joann. Mrs. Joann had told this woman all about me and my kids because we had made such an impression on her. Joann was sure that we would be good friends… During our conversation we just happened to talk about many different things that I have been praying about lately. She is the National Vice president of an international company that sells through consultants. Listening to some of her testimony was inspiring to me about so many different thoughts and ideas that I have had lately. We too exchanged numbers and went our own ways. (this whole conversation delayed me from leaving by about 45 minutes)

THEN I went outside to find that I had a flat tire. (Did I mention that Ryne is out of state?) I felt the tears well up inside of me. I turned around and before I could cry, there was a man- standing right there- Mr. Rodney. He told me that he noticed my tire when he went into eat so he had been watching to see whose it was in case they needed help. (Wow. Thank. You. SO. Much) My flat turned out to be a difficult tire to change… First of all, it was 40 degrees outside and misty. We had a hard time finding the spare, getting to the spare, getting bolts off, tools got busted, had to ask multiple strangers if they had special tool, more strangers came to help. When it was all said and done: 7 wonderful people stopped and offered to help, a sweet teenage boy (joined with his mother who kept me company) helped the man fix our tire, another gentleman went and found the tool we needed, and an hour later- my spare was on. I got in the van and the tension squeezed out of me as I cried.

If I had never talked to that wonderful couple at Target we wouldn’t have those new friends. The kids seem to offer joy to Mr. Jim and his wife as he is now undergoing chemo- again. Their family is all far off and already we have been blessed by their friendship.

If we didn’t know them, they wouldn’t have mentioned me to their neighbor. I wouldn’t have even met them if my buyer hadn’t been a no show. I am excited about visiting with them again over the next few weeks.

And if I hadn’t stopped to talk to them, Mr. Rodney wouldn’t have arrived at Chik-fil-a yet. I guess someone else could have helped, but Rodney went above and beyond to make sure that the kids and I were taken care of.

And here it is… just days before Thanksgiving. I have been a little sad because we have decided not to travel this holiday season and although I know it is the right decision for us, it hasn’t been an easy one. Visiting with that family today at Chik-fil-a reminded me of how thankful I am for the “big” family I had growing up. Although we don’t have 6 kids… I have my own family that is continuing to grow and seeing them together reminded me of how thankful I am that I will spend this holiday season with Ryne and the kids. I am SO blessed by all three of them.- While we are in the midst of many financial decisions, I am thankful for my Van too. It may have been a long ordeal, but I am home, in my pajama’s, and a cozy house. I don’t know what will come of some of my new friendships, but I sure am glad that God’s timing is always perfect in our lives, in every aspect of our lives too.

To everything there is a season, A time for every purpose under heaven. Ecclesiastes 3:1 

Today it is raining. As a matter of fact, it has been raining off and on since about 8:00 last night, and it has been WONDERFUL! I love that it has cooled down and it is perfect pajama pant weather. In light of such, and the fact that Ryne is out of town, there was absolutely NO cooking tonight. Sam and Riley LOVED making their own sandwiches (like grown-ups) and Sam has cut all of his grapes into thirds so he can practice using a knife. (Don’t worry- a butter knife)

So tonight I wanted to share with you a new favorite side dish. Broccoli Cheese Bites, or as we affectionately call them- Broccoli Cookies. You can find the original recipe here, but I put the recipe and modifications that I did below:

Broccoli Cookies

2 small heads of broccoli- Chopped, and steamed.

A handful of cheese (and don’t skimp. I. LOVE. Cheese)

2 or 3 eggs depending on their size (enough to glue everything together but not make it too runny. You know, “Til it looks right”)

1 Cup of almond flour

And don’t forget Salt and Pepper. (seriously. I forgot one time…. Don’t forget)

I like to put it all in a food processor and pulse to combine. I like when the broccoli is well blended but still a little chunky. Then place spoonfuls of “cookie batter” onto parchment paper and into an oven that is set at 375. I cooked mine for about 8-10 minutes on each side, just to brown them.

Serve warm as a side dish or reheat them for an after school snack the next day 🙂 My kiddos LOVE them and so do I!