Food Favorites Vol. 2

2014-05-23 12.22.16

I took this picture for a post I never wrote on our family blog. The kids were baffled that shredded cheese could be made from their beloved blocks of cheese.

It’s been more than a year since the first edition of our family food favorites, so I figured it was time for an update. There are a couple things on that list we don’t purchase at all anymore, like frozen pizza & breakfast cereal, somethings that have fallen out of favor, like our blender applesauce, and other items that are still in high demand. So, without further ado, here are some things that we simply can’t run out of at our house:

  1. Nutella. Need I say more? I don’t know why I we waited so long to give this a try.
  2. Tortillas. Sometimes I wonder if the checkout person at Costco will ask if we’re having some kind of party based on how many tortillas we buy. We get corn and flour. Burrito sized and taco sized. They get used round the clock. The flour tortillas are technically a transgression against our dietary standards, but it’s one of the few. As Josh always reminds me, life is about balance, not extremes.
  3. Bananas.
  4. Dried Fruit. This is Ben’s favorite; he asks for it constantly. Costco has a great line of dried fruit that is pretty much just fruit and some sugar. He usually eats it plain in a bowl, but sometimes we mix it into yogurt or make trail mix.
  5. Milk. We all love milk.
  6. Carnation Instant Breakfast. Also a transgression. But sometimes we just need a quick vitamin-infused, protein boost in the form of chocolatey yumminess, right? That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.
  7. Granola. We keep three varieties to appease my hungry beasts. Different granolas for different moods, I suppose.
  8. Jack showing off his egg. They fight about who gets to crack the egg when we cook.

    Jack showing off his egg. They fight about who gets to crack the egg when we cook.


  9. Nuts. Current favorites are salted cashews and an unsalted mix that has pistachios, cashews, walnuts, almonds, and probably some other stuff.
  10. Ham. Or “hammy” as it is loving referred to by Leila. Ham steaks or, recently, Canadian bacon. It’s great for breakfast, lunch, or a quick protein pick me up.
  11. Black beans. I cook with these A LOT. Soups, tacos, casseroles, you name it, I probably put black beans in it.
  12. Cheese. String cheese for snacks. Blocks of cheese for lunch. Shredded cheese for recipes. We love cheese.
  13. Greek yogurt. We have to ration them to one per day per kid or they just fly off the shelf.
  14. Chocolate covered almonds. This is my little treat. When I’m stressed or just want some chocolate, nothing hits the spot like my chocolate covered almonds and a big glass of milk. The kids love them, but I hoard them for myself.
  15. Eggs. We always need eggs.



V is for [Lady Parts]

All April long, I’m blogging alphabetically about Adjusting to Life to Life with Baby Number 5. Click here to see all the posts in this series.

Mack-TruckI’ve only been asked about this sensetive topic twice in person. Both times it was a friend who asked, so I wasn’t offended.

I have a girlfriend who was verbally attacked in the grocery store by some crazy lady who made some incredibly inappropriate comments about how she could probably park a Mack truck in the land down under.

Crazy people aside, it’s a topic I frequently see asked in online forums where mommies-to-be gather.

So, just in case you’ve ever wondered, (or you’re a crazy person wondering whether the hateful things you say to mothers of larger families are accurate) everything goes back to normal. And fairly quickly. The human body is an amazing thing. Women’s bodies are made to give birth. Except for rare tragedies, birth does not permanently damage our bodies. Not even the more sensitive parts.

Sorry, Mack trucks, you’ll have to find somewhere else to park.

R is for “R” you done yet?

All April long, I’m blogging alphabetically about Adjusting to Life to Life with Baby Number 5. Click here to see all the posts in this series.

Some of my crew at our friend's baptism on Easter.

Some of my crew at our friend’s baptism on Easter.

“You’re done now, right?”

It feels like I get asked this every time I leave my house.

I know a guy who has 10 children. He said that his response to curious folks is this: “If you had 10 million dollars and someone wanted to give you another million, wouldn’t you want it?”

That’s a cute answer.

Even though I’ve been asked hundreds of time, I never know what to say. I just smile and sheepishly say something along the lines of, “Oh, I don’t know. Guess we’ll have to wait and see…”

People always seem puzzled by my response. But it’s the truth.

When I was in high school, I used to say I wanted 5 kids. Once I had two, I decided that was crazy talk and I didn’t want any more. I obviously changed my mind at some point and had baby number 3. After my third child, I decided it might not be so bad to be completely open to whatever happened indefinitely, even if that meant we ended up with a small army. After my fourth, I was heartbroken because I thought I might like to have more kids, but could never see myself going through labor and delivery again. Now, here I am holding my precious baby number 5.

I love my family. We are perfect just the way we are. If we never had another baby, I’d be ok with that. Our home is full of love and laughter and chaos.

But every new baby multiples that. And, as they grow, they bring a new personality and a new perspective into the mix. Each child is a completely unique and unrepeatable person that we wouldn’t have the joy of knowing if we hadn’t brought them into our family.  That’s why it seems crazy to me to say I’d never want to have another child.

So, now I’m going to tell you the same thing I tell the strangers in the checkout line: I guess we’ll just have to wait and see.

H is for “How Do You Do it?”

All April long, I’m blogging alphabetically about Adjusting to Life to Life with Baby Number 5. Click here to see all the posts in this series. 

2014-03-06 15.37.40“How do you do it?” This is one of the most common questions I get asked. People observe my family size and automatically assume that I must be more patient, more organized, or richer than they are. The truth is, I’m not. I’m probably a lot like you. And I haven’t uncovered any secret parenting advice that makes everything magically fall in to place either.

I’m just a mom who loves being a mom (most days) and who is willing to do what it takes to make it work.

Just like you, I take my challenges one day at a time. I prioritize and problem-solve the best way I know how.

Sometimes I even have to swallow my pride and ask for help.

I wish I had some secret parenting advice to share. Then, maybe I could write a best seller and travel and get rich sharing my secret with the world. Then, I wouldn’t need to be patient or organized because I could just hire people to help with whatever tasks I didn’t want to do. But, alas, that’s not the world I live in. And I think I prefer it that way.

When my friends become new mommies they always call and ask me for my secrets. I’m flattered, but I’m afraid I probably leave them disappointed. All I say is,

Never count the dirty diapers or lost hours of sleep. Only count the precious moments like baby smiles and the “wuv you”s uttered by your toddler.

Remember that you and your husband are a team; it’s way too easy to make him the enemy and take things out on him.

And, most importantly, be patient with YOURSELF. You’re just learning how to be a mommy. It takes a lot of hard work and will stretch you in ways you never knew you could bend.

Family Food Favorites

Andy snacking on chips and salsa last summer.

Andy snacking on chips and salsa last summer.

What Food Items are Staples at Your House?

Ok, so this isn’t really a frequently asked question. In fact, I’m not sure that anyone has ever asked me this. But, just for fun, I thought I’d make a list of the foods that are absolute necessities at our house. These are the things we use every week and really miss when we run out. I’ve noticed this list change over the years, so I thought it would be fun to track from time to time. While this list may not be exhaustive, here are some things that we currently have to have in our kitchen:

  1. Salsa. For snacks, for recipes, for everything.
  2. Peanut butter filled pretzels from Costco. It’s our go-to snack.
  3. Oranges. For juicing, for smoothies, for eating.
  4. An assortment of frozen fruit for smoothie making.
  5. Tomatoes. This is really only on mine and Jack’s lists, but we have to have them!
  6. Carnation Instant Breakfast. A quick snack for mommy when I feel like grazing, am too busy to eat a real meal, or need a quick chocolate fix. Also for chocolate milk for the kiddos and occasionally for milk shakes.
  7. Breakfast cereal of the extra unhealthy kid-friendly variety. They eat it around the clock!
  8. Louisiana Hot Sauce. For everything!
  9. Tony Chachere’s creole seasoning. For almost everything I cook.
  10. Bananas. Josh and I hate them, but thekids will eat a whole bunch of them in one sitting.
  11. Milk. We’re currently going through about a gallon a day. Most of it is served “white” too!
  12. Coffee and flavored creamer! Josh and I have a cup every morning. Andy usually gets a small cup too.
  13. Frozen pizza. I’m not proud of it, but it’s my go-to easy meal for the kids for lunch and dinner. Hey, at least it’s better than fast food!
  14. Decaf Iced Tea. We couldn’t live without the house wine of the South! But we also couldn’t live with our kiddos hyped up on all that caffeine!
  15. String cheese. Another snack-time favorite.

    Summer 2012. Evidence of my reliance on frozen pizza.

    Summer 2012. Evidence of my reliance on frozen pizza.

  16. Wine! Oh wait, that’s just on my list.
  17. Apples. For our blender applesauce.
  18. Cinnamon. I can’t tell you what all we use it for, but we’re always having to buy more.
  19. Rotel. I usually try to avoid canned things, but I use Rotel all the time!
  20. Olive oil. A cooking staple. I’m pretty sure I use it every time I make dinner.

So there you have it – the first edition of Swafford Family Food Favorites. :)

Baby on board!


Not that it’s really news at this point, but we’re expecting our third child in June! I am just so excited and am so very blessed to have been given these three glorious gifts from God. So for those of you who know us, or even those of you who don’t, (You would be astonished by what strangers feel they have a right to say to you when you’re pregnant and/or a mom.) let me go ahead and give you the answers to some of our FAQs.

1. Yes, we know where babies come from.

2. No, we are not “trying” for a girl.

3. In fact, we don’t have cable. However, I neither feel that is the cause of our pregnancies, nor would I want to trade the “time” time I “spend” with my husband to spend time watching 30 Rock. (Totally not knocking 30 Rock – I LOVE 30 Rock!)

4. Yes, this baby was planned…by Someone much wiser than we are.

5. Andy is 4, Jack is 2.

5b. No, we are not systematically spacing our children.

6. Yes, I’m a little concerned about the expenses we are going to incur considering we have a 2 bedroom apartment and there is no room for another passenger in either of our cars.

6b. No, I do not feel that those concerns were sufficient reason not to have another child right now.

6c. The Lord will provide.

7. I don’t know whether we are “done” having children. We are both open to the possibility of more. We are both immensely satisfied with the amazing little family we already have. See #4 re: a wiser Individual.

8. No, I am not bored at home.

8b. Yes, my boys already keep me incredibly busy and I can’t imagine having more to handle in one day. Laughably, I felt the same way when transitioning from one to two kids. I think it’s hard to imagine what you’re capable of until you see yourself doing it.

9. Yes, I have heard that the transition from 2 to 3 kids is the harder than 1 to 2 or even 3 to 4.

9b. No, I’m not going to spend the next 6 months worrying about that.

10. Yes, I do occasionally doubt my parental abilities.

10b. The Lord won’t give me anything I can’t handle.

If your question remains unanswered, feel free to chime in. I assure you, it probably isn’t anything some random person hasn’t already asked me in the grocery store.

I went to the doctor yesterday and everything looks great. I heard his or her little heartbeat and got to do another ultrasound! Eventually, I’ll get around to scanning the pictures. In the meantime, you’ll just have to wait until you run into me to see our little peanut. We should find out if we’re having a boy or a girl in February!

Right now, I’m a little more than 13 weeks, and, just in case you’re curious, this is what our baby looks like.

This isn’t actually our baby, and this baby is only 12 weeks, but I just love this picture.

This baby is 10 weeks. That means our little peanut is about this size, but actually a little bigger. What a miracle!!

Fabulous Life Presents: SAHM

fab_lifePeople often ask me what I do all day. I have NO idea why this is such a fascinating topic, but, since so many people are interested, I’ll lift the shroud for all of you who want to know but haven’t asked.

Around 5AM I realize that I absolutely can not hit snooze anymore or Josh will be late for work. I head for the kitchen, start the coffee, feed the cats, and pack a lunch for Josh. Regardless of how quiet we are, Andy always comes bounding out of his room, saying something along the lines of, “Daddy. Work. Blue Car.” I respond, “Yes, sweetie, Daddy is about to leave for work in the blue car.” Shortly after 5:30, Andy and I walk Josh to his car and tell him goodbye. Andy and I have a discussion about the presence of the moon, or lack thereof, and how much longer it will be dark.

Andy’s mood determines what happens next. If he is well rested and in good spirits, I make him some chocolate milk. We sit on the couch, Andy with his milk and me with my coffee, and catch some of the morning headlines on CNN. When Andy can’t take anymore news, we turn on Muzzy. Josh and I are learning French, so we got Muzzy for the boys so they wouldn’t be left out. Andy absolutely loves it. He’s already using several phrases in every day conversation! If Andy is clearly in need of more sleep, he goes back to bed, usually in my room. The days he goes back to sleep, I get to do a Hip Hop Abs video and take a shower. By then, both boys are raring to go.

I get Jack out of bed, change both boys’ diapers, and set them up for breakfast. Today, it was whole grain frozen waffles and this amazing mixed berry sauce I made. I try to give them something semi-homemade for breakfast, but it doesn’t always happen. Yesterday, it was poptarts and bananas. :) While the boys eat, I make the beds and do any necessary tidying up in the bedrooms. If time permits, I get started on a chore that is easier completed without my little helpers, such as cleaning one of the bathrooms or mopping the kitchen floor. When the boys are finished, I clean them up. They play while I clean up the breakfast mess. After the kitchen is cleaned, the boys and I all play together. Lately, it’s been blocks or trucks or bowling. Before long, Jack is ready for his morning nap. We clean up whatever we were playing with, do a diaper change, read “Goodnight Moon” and put Jack to bed.

While Jack sleeps, Andy and I do a variety of activities, partially determined by the weather. If it’s nice out, Andy and I go outside. Jack’s window is right off our porch and I can hear him if he gets upset. If we can’t go out, we do some kind of craft project, puzzles, and/or bake something. When Jack wakes up, it’s bath time, as Andy is usually pretty gross after any of the above mentioned activities.

Now, it’s lunch time. If we don’t have any errands to run, the boys sit down together and eat. Lunch is something pretty simple: sandwiches and chips, mac and cheese and hotdogs, microwavable ravioli, 90 second rice packs and chicken tenders, etc. If we do have errands, I pack a filling snack, like chicken tenders and cheese cubes, and we hit the road. If the boys are still hungry, we’ll eat lunch when we get home.

Now it’s NAPTIME!! We get cleaned up, change diapers, read “Goodnight Moon” again and go to bed! I make myself some lunch and watch a little tv, usually 7th Heaven. If I haven’t gotten to shower yet, now is the time. I do some computer work, like pay bills and Mary Kay stuff, and take care of any mail correspondence, like thank you notes or, currently, Alzheimer’s Association stuff. Of course, I check my email, Myspace, and Facebook. I’ve usually thrown in a load of laundry at some point earlier in the day, so I fold it and put it away. If time permits, I’ll do some reading or, if I haven’t already done it with Andy, I’ll do some baking.

When the boys get up, we have a little snack. We may watch a short movie or check out what’s on Sprout of Noggin, especially if they wake up on the wrong side of the bed. If they wake up happy, we may head over to the playground or run any remaining errands after their snack. Sometime between 4 and 5, Daddy calls to say he’s on his way home. Once we get that call, we do a big clean up and vacuum the house. The boys love to help vacuum. Andy either uses our handheld vacuum or some attachments from the big vacuum. If Andy’s not using the attachments, Jack used them. Otherwise, Jack uses a push toy that pops up the colored balls on the inside. Since Josh’s commute is about an hour or so, after we’re done cleaning, we head out for a walk. We walk around the neighborhood until we pass Daddy’s car.

Now that Daddy’s home, the boys play with him either inside or out, while I make dinner. After we eat, Josh cleans up the boys. Depending on the time, we may play some more. We do a final clean up, brush teeth, and put on pajamas. Once the boys are in their beds, we read “Goodnight Moon” one final time, and say goodnight. Josh cleans up the kitchen, empties the litter box, and gets a shower while I do any remaining Mary Kay stuff or cleaning or whatever. Finally the work is done, and Josh and I get to spend some time together!

So there you have it. It may not be very glamorous, but that’s what my days look like. If you think you would be bored, don’t forget to account for the momentary chaos resulting from things like my adorable pumpkin-shaped pepper shaker shattering all over the kitchen floor, explosive diapers, a cat stepping in finger paint, unwillingness to share, or any other random event caused by my sweet little Andy trying to “help.” Despite their lackluster appearance, I wouldn’t trade my simple little days for anything in the world!