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Family Thoughts

An unexpected family update

December 5, 2016

I’m sharing a message below from my personal Facebook page. I wasn’t sure how to share this info. as it was something that caught me totally off guard.

I wish I wasn’t writing this right now but I felt like it’s needed not only for me, but also for all the people who have always been there supporting our family. Ben and I are heartbroken right now, as we’ve lost the baby girl we were expecting. While we didn’t know her, we felt like we did & we were so excited to find out we’d be giving Braden a sister. It has been an unexpected, devastating experience to be in this situation after being more than halfway along in my pregnancy. It may seem odd to some that I’m sharing this on social media but both for Ben and me, it’s emotionally exhausting repeating this news over and over again so sending an email or via SM is just the easiest thing for us right now.

While I may not be able to respond to every call, text or message from everyone, please know both Ben and I appreciate your kind words, prayers and support. 

I’ve had so many people tell me they follow along on my blog, so I feel that I would be inauthentic by not being honest about something that has impacted my life so greatly. When I shared the news that  I was expecting, never did I imagine I would be in this position now. It pretty much knocks the wind out of you and it’s hard to articulate right now because it still feels like I might wake up one day to find out this isn’t actually happening since it’s still so fresh.

Thanks so much for your support. I’ll be back soon.


Family Local

National Pumpkin Day + Pumpkin Patch Pics

October 26, 2016








pumpkin-patch-27Well, I’m finally getting around to sharing our pumpkin patch pictures  we took over 3 weeks ago. I guess it kind of works out because today is National Pumpkin Day. Who doesn’t love a good made-up food holiday?! This month has been a doozy. With a wedding and/or out of town travel nearly every weekend, plus getting the sinus infection from hell that has lasted 2+ weeks, I’ve been a walking zombie. And, you pretty much can’t take any good meds when you’re pregnant. I finally got on antibiotics yesterday so I’m hopeful I’ll feel like a human again.

We visited Blessington Farms the first weekend in Oct. It’s open through the end of the month, so there’s still a chance to go if you’re around the Houston area. There are a ton of games for kids and plenty of picture opportunities. It definitely wore us all out. It was still pretty hot when we went, but I’m sure it will be nice the next few days.

Braden loved it, and we used it as an opportunity to take some pics announcing our family update. On that front, I am 16 weeks pregnant, so sort of in that beer gut stage. With my food aversions and intermittent nausea I lost weight in the first trimester, which happened to me with B, too. I’m trying to eat more, but with the sinus infection, I’ve had so much pain and pressure in my face, I haven’t wanted to eat much because it hurt to chew for awhile. I actually thought I had a cavity and went to the dentist last week. Nope, my sinuses are just so inflamed that my top teeth feel like they’re falling out because the roots of my teeth are pressing against my sinus cavity. Fun times, y’all.

Fall is my favorite season, and I’m looking forward to actually enjoying it a little more once I get better. Hopefully, in a few days I’ll feel like new!






Family Local

Family Update

October 7, 2016
Blessington Farms petting zoo

pumpkin-patch-25I’m excited to share that we’re adding one more little pumpkin to our patch! Braden is just the best thing that ever happened to us, so why not add one more to the mix? We’ll welcome another mini-me next spring. We took these pics at Blessington Farms last weekend. It’s our second time visiting this place, and I would highly recommend it for those who live in the Houston area.

We’re in small town outside of Fort Worth this weekend visiting with family and the internet is a little spotty, so uploading pics is not going so well today. So, I’ll be back early next week with a recap on Blessington Farms and more on the family front!


More soon,


Family Thoughts Working Mom

August Rush

August 31, 2016

Not sure what happened to this month. It’s definitely been a whirlwind. There isn’t much of a point to this post, but I felt compelled to write it.

Why did I even start a blog to begin with? Because I really like to write. I have a lot of respect for bloggers because it takes a lot more time than I think people realize to plan and write a post and develop or shoot photos to accompany that post. Right now, I just haven’t been able to carve out the time to do that. I want to make time.  I know the blogs that I like following the most are ones that have more writing vs. images. That’s just me, though. I’ll get it together soon. Promise.

So, all I have for you today are words. Mostly jumbled up thoughts really. A lot has been on my mind.

I’ve been experiencing a lot of guilt lately. Mom guilt, that is,  because my work schedule has been insane the past couple of weeks, and I’ve missed more moments at home than I care to admit. The time I have  before work or after work is precious. I don’t work out as much as I used to because I spend that time playing, reading and smothering Braden.  But the leaving early and getting home very late and eating three meals a day outside of my home has really started to get to me. The guilt has been getting to me. I’m hoping to balance that out and get back into a better routine. This week has been better, but I feel like I’m recovering.

August has had some great highs but also some extreme lows.

My beautiful baby boy turned TWO. I can’t believe it. I just love him more and more each day. I celebrated my 11 year anniversary. We didn’t do anything particularly amazing to celebrate, but I’m okay with that. With the house building and work, things have been pretty jam packed so moments when we’re just at home with Chinese food and a Redbox are pretty amazing. I’m thankful to be at this place in life with a true partner.

Speaking of…

I have major appreciation for my hands-on husband who has really picked up the slack at home while I’ve been working a ton, especially the past two weeks. He’s a gem, and I’m very glad to have him by my side to be my sounding board, secret keeper and pretty much everything that balances me out.

Part of the blur that is August is that we lost someone very important to us. A close friend lost his battle with cancer. It’s made me think a lot about things, and it has pretty much broken my heart for his wonderful family. Cancer really sucks. I don’t know what else to say about it, except that it just really sucks, and family and friends are precious.

Tomorrow is a new month. A fresh start. I’ll be back with more. I promise. Maybe it’ll be light-hearted, or maybe it’ll be random thoughts again. I hope you’ll come back to read more.





Family Loving Lately...

Birthday #2

August 9, 2016, Braden tursn 2My sweet baby boy Braden turned two today. It’s hard to believe that I have a two-year-old. Sometimes  I feel a little unqualified to be a mom to a toddler who is learning and growing daily. He’s such a little sponge, constantly counting and pointing out the shapes, colors and objects in every room. It’s hard to put into words how much I adore this kid.

Braden turns 2

So, on his birthday, I thought I would share the things that I love about him:

I love how he dances up a storm in our living room.

I love how he sings, “Hammer, where are yoouuuu?”  when he’s searching for his favorite little accessory to his tool work bench.

I love how he crinkles his little nose and gets so excited when he sees cats on video.

I love how he kisses me everyday on the lips before he leaves to go to school.

I love how he gets a little jealous if he sees mom and dad kiss and then he wants kisses, too.

I love how he wants to wear shoes all the time. This is soooo much like Ben, who pretty much puts on shoes when he wakes in the morning and wears them all day long.

Sometimes I hate this, but deep down I kind of love it. When I’m putting him down for bed, he says, “Momma, lay down.” He wants me to crawl in his crib  next to him. ( I may or may not have done this on a few occasions…)

I love how he constantly requests to go downstairs when we’re upstairs.

I love it when he says “Ben!” when he’s looking for his dad and he’s having a tough time finding his favorite human.

Ben and Braden,

Braden is very much his father’s son, carefully evaluating his surroundings and resourcefully looking for solutions if he gets hung up on something.  It’s so fun to see his little personality develop.

Now for the things he loves. At this point in his life, Braden definitely has likes and dislikes.

He likes to dip everything in ketchup. He loves marinara sauce, too.

He always gets really excited when he sees monkeys in books, on TV, etc.

He loves massages. After bath time when we’re changing him into PJs, he turns over on his stomach on the changing table and asks for a   ‘sage – the massage without the “ma” on the front end of the word. So, we oblige and rub lotion all over his little body.

He loves construction equipment and constantly points out backhoes when we’re driving around town. He enjoys going to the ” ‘struction site” – where we’re currently building our home.

We recently gave him a soft tape measure, and he loves it. He’s always measuring things around the house. It’s pretty hilarious actually, as he legitimately looks like he is measuring with a purpose to fix something.

I could go on and on, but I’m honestly getting a little teary-eyed writing this. Of all the things that I’ve done in my life, I can undoubtedly say that I’m most proud to be his mom.

Baby boy, I love you more than I can truly express. Thank you for joining our family two years ago. Happy 2nd birthday, Braden!



Braden 6

Braden tree climb, swinging B

Braden 3

laureenloves family photo, Braden turns 2

Photos by Ailee of Snapshots by Ailee Petrovic















Family Gifts Holiday

For the Dads

June 11, 2016

We’re nearly a week away from Father’s Day so I’ve been searching online for the best gift Amazon Prime has to offer. I kid (sort of) but most of these gifts are available on Amazon or online retailers that will ship to you in time for you to give to your dad or husband. I am SO thankful for my hubby and appreciate all he does for us. So, in honor of him I’ve rounded up some gifts that are right up his alley.  Many of these he already has (it’s a little insane how many Yeti products are in our home),  but I know a few are on his wish list, too. My husband has a lot of outdoorsy hobbies and likes to make an old-fashioned almost daily. So, I give you the best gifts for  the dad who likes to hunt, shoot guns and keep his drinks cool all while practicing these hobbies.

1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9

Family Food

Stuffed Shells

May 11, 2016

I’m a fan of Italian food, but it’s a little heavy to eat more than once or twice a week in my opinion. I tend to cook a little lighter. Sorry, Giada. I do get in the mood for the cheesy goodness that many pasta dishes offer and this recipe for Stuffed Shells never disappoints.  My 21-month-old loves it, and so does my 416-month-old, making this recipe a family-friendly winner. 🙂

I really have been just trying to survive lately, prepping more food on the weekends to avoid making choices I know I’ll regret on weeknights. Or,   I often make super simple non-recipe meals on weeknights  –  i.e. salmon, sweet potato + salad – since I get home after work and I want to spend as much time with the kiddo versus getting stuck in the kitchen. That’s why recipes like this that can carry over for more than one weeknight meal are perfect for me. I usually pair it with a salad or another veggie I already have in my fridge. And, this since they are individual shells, it’s built-in portion control.


Before going into the oven

B loves to hang out in the kitchen while I cook.

B loves to hang out in the kitchen while I cook.

I think pasta often gets a bad wrap for the carbs, but when you eat it in moderation and you serve with something green, it can be a healthy meal. My motto is to live a little or you’ll end up binge eating later. I eat pretty healthy 80% of the time, but sometimes I just need something a little more hearty like this!

Turkey and Artichoke Stuffed Shells

Serves 6 to 8 (This is a perfect meal to give to friends, a new mom or for a potluck. You can freeze it, too!)

1 (12 ounce) box jumbo pasta shells

3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1/2 large yellow onion, chopped (about 1 cup)

1 pound ground turkey ( I used 93 % lean)

1 ( 8- to 10-ounce) package frozen artichokes (I used a whole 12-ounce package I found at Kroger)

1 (15-ounce) whole milk ricotta cheese ( I used part-skim ricotta)

3/4 cup Parmesan cheese

2 eggs, lightly beaten

1/4 cup chopped fresh basil

2 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley (I used 1 tbsp dried)

2 jars marinara sauce ( I used approx. 1.5 jars of organic marinara I had in my pantry. I opted for this since I wanted to make it toddler-friendly. The original recipe calls for Arriabiata and although it’s delish, it can be a little spicy.)

1 1/2 cups grated mozzarella cheese (about 5 ounces; I just eyeball this and probably use less)


Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the pasta and partially cook until tender but still very firm to the bite, stirring occasionally, 4 to 5 minutes. Drain.

Meanwhile, in a large, heavy skillet, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the onion and the garlic and cook until the onion is soft and starts to brown, about 3 minutes. Add the ground turkey, 1/2 tsp salt, and 1/4 tsp pepper and continue to cook, stirring occasionally until the meat is lightly golden and cooked through. Add the artichoke hearts and stir to combine. Remove from the heat and let cool.

In a large bowl, combine the cooled turkey mixture with the ricotta cheese, Parmesan cheese, eggs, basil, parsley, 1/2 tsp salt, and 1/2 tsp pepper. Stir to combine.

Cover the bottom of the a 9 x 13 x 2-inch baking dish (I used 3 different baking dishes so I could give one to a friend) with 1 cup of marinara sauce. Hold a shell in the palm of your hand and stuff with a large spoonful of turkey mixture, about 2 tablespoons. Place the stuffed shell in the baking dish. Continue filling the shells until the baking dish is full; you should have about 36 shells. Drizzle the remaining marinara sauce over the shells and top with the grated mozzarella. Bake until the shells are warmed through and the cheese is beginning to brown, about 25 minutes.




TIPS: I have adapted this recipe to make it easier on me, using some store bought items like jarred marinara, which I always have handy. I’ve made notes in the ingredient list. Do NOT use canned artichokes. I personally don’t like the taste of them, and I once used and it did not taste right. Lots of places sell frozen artichokes such as Whole Foods, Trader Joes and Kroger. I think I have used hot Italian turkey sausage before. You can  swap out the protein for others like sirloin, ground chicken, etc. and I’m sure it’ll turn out just as well.

IF FREEZING: Cover tightly with plastic wrap and place in the freezer for 1 day and up to 1 month. To bake, preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Bake until the shells are warmed through and the cheese is beginning to brown, about 60 minutes (20 minutes if shells are unfrozen.)

Original recipe by Giada De Laurentis can be found here.


Family Home Design + Decor

Dotting your i’s and crossing your t’s

March 28, 2016

We had a fun-filled weekend  with brunch, egg hunting, Easter Sunday church service and dinner with friends.  It was the perfect weekend, especially since I had Friday off, which was soooooo needed.

easter egg hunt

We stopped by the house on Saturday since I hadn’t been there in a week or so. Ben went earlier in the week/he stops by there every other day or so to see the progress.  This week the underground plumbing was installed. Honestly, I didn’t really know what this meant, but my hubby, being the engineer he is cross-checked measurements with the plan — meaning he went out there and measured EVERYTHING and noticed that we were missing the plumbing for the bar sink. This would have been caught by the builder who was planning on walking the site the next day, but of course, Ben caught it first. Our builder always laughs at us and says he’s never worked with anyone like us (aka Ben) before because we’re very detail-oriented, and we like to know how and why things are happening a certain way. When Ben emailed him and said he found an error, he said that he would get it corrected and that he appreciates our attitude about things. We’re pretty easy-going people and we understand mistakes will be made. I’m glad we’re working with someone we trust, and I’m thankful my husband is a person who likes to get in the weeds about things!

More soon,




Family Fashion + Style Working Mom

Work to Weekend Style

March 21, 2016

1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5

I love button-up shirts. Paired with the right denim or a pencil skirt, this classic top can be perfect for the office. Just throw on a blazer or cardigan to dress it up even more and make it work for multiple seasons. Styled with skinny jeans, it’s a go-to weekend outfit. Silk button-up shirts are easy to dress up for dinner out or for work, too. I have a few fun, printed silk shirts and colored silk buttons-ups that I’ve had for years.

Work to Weekend Style

Saturday afternoon walk in the neighborhood with B. He loves sunglasses now and I may have an obsession with all things from Baby Zara and Toms shoes for toddlers.

I’ve been finding quite a bit at Banana that I like lately. This linen shirt is casual and light, and I could see myself wearing it with shorts once that Houston heat hits. Who am I kidding – we are having some sort of fluke spring weather, but I’m sure it will be short-lived and we’ll be back to humidity soon.  I wore this shirt 2 weeks ago with yellow shorts when running errands in fact. The weather was amazing this weekend, and we took advantage by walking  around our neighborhood Saturday afternoon, hitting up our favorite toy store, Big Blue Whale, and getting some frozen yogurt. This outfit was perfect for this fun afternoon with my favorite toddler.


Big Blue Whale in the Heights is the most magical toy store! If you live in Houston, definitely check it out. We frequent it weekly. 🙂

Sometimes long-sleeve shirts like this can be hard to find the right fit. I’ve curated quite the collection, so I know what brands work for me and my long limbs. I buy tall long- sleeve shirts and blazers when they’re available from Banana, in particular. Banana Republic, J. Crew and Ann Taylor are 3 stores that sell tall sizes, which means a little more length in the arms and width in the shoulders, which makes this 5’10 gal a happy camper.



Family Loving Lately...

Loving lately: How do I have a 19 month old?

March 20, 2016

Life has been kicking us in the butt lately. Between a terrible stomach bug for Braden, which I then was lucky enough to get too,  and a few episodes of night terrors in the past week (whhhhyy?) coupled with my busy work season,  I’m pretty exhausted.  I know it’s the season of life we’re in though and it soon will pass.

I know I’m kind of slow to the Snapchat bandwagon. I got it when it first came out, but never cared for it. But, what we soon realized is that Braden thinks it’s pretty hilarious. Thus, it’s turned into something I’m loving lately since we’re getting some infectious giggles out of it. My husband has especially taken it to some new levels, as you can see here with his obsession with face swap.

My name is laureenlucas9 on Snapchat, so follow along if you want some of our stories filling your feed. 🙂


Makeup Mr Potato head

My little mini recently turned 19 months. It’s shocking how quickly it flies by. He’s surprising us daily with his ever-increasing vocabulary. New words include: crackers and cartoons (dang it). And, “mine!” is also starting to creep up pretty often. :/ He tests our patience, makes us laugh uncontrollably and makes me realize that I love him more than I could have ever imagined.

More soon,