Italian Pizzadillas



If you’ve seen a similar recipe before, please don’t tell me. I’ve avoided Googling “Italian Quesadillas” specifically because I got creative in the kitchen this evening, and I don’t want to burst my own bubble just yet.

And guess what? Even if you have seen a recipe like it, I’m gonna share mine anyway. So, there!

The only downside is I didn’t think to take any pictures and blog about it until after we gobbled up every last bite… oops. These things just happen, ya know? (Pictures to come soon… I WILL be making these again, as they are that good!)

And P.S. Theeeeeey’re heeeeealthy (and economical). Wink face.

Here goes, folks:

Italian Pizzadillas

  • 1 bag Italian cheese (use 2% if you want to cut some fat/cals)
  • 1lb seasoned grilled chicken strips (I used a 2 lb frozen bag and reserved 1/2 the quesadilla mix to use for a pasta dinner on another night)
  • 1 can petite diced tomatoes
  • 1 cup or more fresh spinach, chopped
  • 8- 10″ Whole wheat tortillas
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • Low fat sour cream and marinara sauce for dipping (we dipped in both and it was delish!)


Heat large non-stick skillet to medium heat. Add 1 Tbsp olive oil and cook chicken until heated through and golden. Toward end of cooking, add in chopped spinach. Stir and cook for about 2 minutes. Remove from heat. Drain the can of tomatoes and add to the mix.

Place skillet back on low to medium heat. Prepare pizzadillas. Spread a handful of cheese on a tortilla, followed by a decent amount of the chicken mix, then top with a little more cheese and another tortilla.

Cook the pizzadilla until golden and crispy on each side. Makes 4 pizzadillas.

Good alone, but ohmygoshicantstopeating amazing when you dip them in both sour cream and marinara sauce.

If you did like me and cooked a whole 2 lbs of chicken, use the other half of the chicken and veggie mix by adding it to your choice of whole wheat pasta and sauce. Makes life easy, saves money, it’s healthy, yummy, and your family is gonna luff you.

Let me know what you think!

A Letter to Edith: Your 2nd Birthday


My Dearest Edith,

Tomorrow, you become a 2 year old. Sometimes it’s not fair how fast time seems to fly. Two years ago from this very moment, I was packing and getting things prepared for the next morning, the day you would be born. For most parents, the delivery of their child comes unexpectedly, but you, my little bear, decided to be different. You were breech. In other words, you chose to keep your head up toward Momma’s, forcing the doctors to plan a Cesarean section. So your Dad and I left the house around 4 in the morning and you entered this world at 8:18 am.

The first thing I heard your Daddy say once you were born was “She’s got my toes!” You’ll understand what he means by the time you read this yourself. When I held you for the first time (it brings tears to my eyes every time I think of it), my life changed. It was the best feeling of my life. I said, “Hi, Edith, I’m your mommy.” And I could tell that you already knew this. You stared at me, and it was peaceful and right. God gave me you. God gave Dada you.

Now, it’s April 30, 2015, and every day we love you even more than the last. God’s love is amazing and a true mystery. How is it possible for us to love this much and for it to grow exponentially each and every day? This is only a glimpse of the love that our Creator has for us. Truly a miracle, yet you’ve helped your Dad and I to understand it more than we ever could have before. Life is such a beautiful and remarkable gift, and your life has already changed so many others’ for the better.

To enlighten you on just how wonderful you have made our lives, I will begin to reminisce on this past year with you. You’ve learned so incredibly much, and you’ve done spectacular things.

Even though we thought you’d walk super early, you didn’t work up the confidence until your 14th month. Your dad and I were in shock when we saw you steps away from the ottoman, holding your rosary. You had the biggest smile on your face and were giggling at our excitement. Now, you run all over the place! You especially like running down the slope in our backyard.

To be honest, Dada and I are convinced that you are without a doubt the most intelligent child of your age. Months before your 2nd birthday, you practically mastered the ABCs song and you dominated counting (I believe you can now count to 20). You got really good at your shapes puzzle and can name colors and shapes when you see them. You have learned to recognize letters in the alphabet. You do prayer hands and on occasion will participate in the Sign of the Cross. You sing “Pinkle pinkle, little star” and sometimes mix it up with the ABCs, after all, they do share the same melody. Gramma Bear Swyden taught you “Happy Birthday” a few months ago, and you’ve loved singing it ever since. Two of our favorite things that you started this past year was saying “Oh dosh” when reacting to something and the second is saying “Mon” while waving your hand, directing us to come play whatever you have in mind. That has transitioned into “Tome on, Dada or Damma or Momma or Reid. You love Reid. You love going down to Shawnee to play with him and his stuffed animals and cars. You love “fwinging.” You adore all of your grandparents and uncles and aunts and having time with them. Gramma Bear is so good at playing with you and goes with you wherever you wish. Grandma & Grandpa make you laugh and always take you outside. Grandma ALWAYS gives you treats to eat, especially fruit chews. Grammy Sue & Papa take you to the park and let you slide down their stairs. You also love Bob the dog, and of course Millie.

You can carry on conversations with us, and it is soooo much fun! A few weeks ago I painted a wall in Momma and Dada’s room. You took notice, asking me “What did Momma make?” I replied, “I painted!” Then you told me, “Oh wow, dat looks awesome!”  Just last night I asked you when you are turning two, and you said “Friday.” Then I asked how old you were that very day, and you said “One!” You are able to grasp a lot of complicated concepts and ideas. You love pretending! You like to play in your kitchen and “cook” for us. Many times during the day, you pretend to call Dada or one of your grandmas and have conversations with them. You like to pretend you are playing in the snow and will throw snowballs at me and make snow angels. Sometimes, you pretend to “make sand.” Last week, you told me you wanted to “be like Mary,” so I took a blanket and draped it over your head and you loved it! You love going to adoration and holding the statue Jesus’s hand. You love singing and dancing along with several of your favorite Disney songs. You also love “Ring Around the Rosie” and insist on Momma and Dada to join you. Your favorite movie is still Finding Nemo, which is why I have decked out our house in Nemo decor for your birthday party this year. You also love watching SuperWhy, mainly because of the puppy on it. You love to color, paint, and color with chalk outside. You love blowing bubbles, going to the park, and riding in your blue car. You adore books. Your favorites right now are Brown Bear, Brown Bear (you like to “read” it to us as well), Easter “Hullaboo,” and princess stories. You love getting into Momma’s bed with her, yet you also love your Edith sleeping bag from Grammy Sue and Papa. You like to help me, whether it’s cleaning or cooking or shopping or anything. You loooove taking care of your babies. You are going to be the most amazing sister to Baby Cami once she’s here in just a few short months. The other day you put your soft bear up to my tummy so Cami could “feel.” You are also always looking out for your friends that come over. You make sure they have their drink cups and you tell them “Let’s be nice!”

Of course, you are more beautiful than ever, and you get SO MUCH attention because of it. We never go to the store without someone talking to you and telling you how great of a helper you are and how “you sure are pretty.” Your hair is blonde with soft curls, and your big blue eyes are showstoppers. You have a few precious freckles on your face, and you still have Dada’s toes, just not as pronounced as when you were born.

Speaking of your Dada, you love him. He took you to the park last night, just the two of you, and on your walk back you kept saying, “I love my Dada.” You love him as he is, too. Many times you would ask me, “Where’s Dada?” and then without giving me time to answer, you’d say “Oh, blowin’ his nose.” Now, you’d probably say he blows his nose “like an elephant.” His heart melts for you, and he is so good at playing with you, teaching you, giving you baths, and making you laugh. When he gets home from work, I love watching both of your faces light up because you both know it’s time to play.

Your Dada and I pray for you every day, and most of all, we thank God for you. You have given our lives so much meaning. Because God gave us you, we aren’t Ryan and Olivia; we’re Momma and Dada. Because God gave us you, we have grown closer in love as a family. Because God gave us you, we have more to laugh about, more to cry about, more to rejoice about, and more to live for. Thank you, Edith, for being you. And thank you, God, for giving us Your beautiful daughter to call our own in this life.

I love you,


Life and Death


This morning I became aware of some incredibly disheartening news.  I saw an article captioned, “Mother wins case to kill her disabled daughter.”  It seems that lately in our world, bad news comes quite often, and many times I try my best to avoid hearing about it. However, I know that ignorance of the wrongdoings in this life will not promote much change or lead others to the Lord. Reluctantly, I clicked on the link,, knowing that reading this would bring depression to a so far wonderful morning with my sweet daughter.  After reading, feelings of depression and some deep thoughts were well under way, and I realized that the story needed to be shared.  I have an opinion for a reason, right?

The news of this death along with the story of Brittany Maynard(click this link if you want to learn about her have made me feel incredibly sad for the way so many people are viewing life and death.  For the mother of Nancy, she sounds like she has a better idea about death, stating that death will bring Nancy peace.  However, she decides to kill her daughter, who apparently no longer has any human rights, and she does so by a brutal death of starvation and dehydration for a total of 14 days.  She was right to say that Nancy is in peace now; I do believe she is.  It’s the mother I’m worried about.  The mother that solely made the decision to end Nancy’s life because she, her mother, could not bear to suffer anymore, because she was done fighting.  I daresay the battle she will be fighting will continue for the rest of her life. She will live dealing with the pain and regret of her choice to kill her daughter, just as any mother who chooses abortion will.  My prayers go out to this mother.  I pray that she will come to know God’s love and great mercy.

This story is truly about life.  And what is life all about?  Dying with Christ, laying our lives upon the Cross.  Though this includes much suffering, we have hope that God will bring us joy, we have faith that God knows what’s best for us, and we have love because God gave us a life to live in the first place.  He first loved us, he knows us, and his plan for our lives is unfailing.

Now for Brittany’s story.  Her story is all about death.  At least, that’s how she sees it, and this is the real problem.  I see no hope in her eyes when she speaks.  She speaks of death as the true end.  When she dies, she has nothing left.  Her family will still be here, and she just hopes that they will be proud of her in her decision to end her life.  She wants her death to mean something to this world, yet we should really be thinking about what our lives mean to God.  She wants justice, pride, and she wants to “die with dignity.”  She wants no one to take away her “autonomy,” yet she is not realizing that God gave her the right to life in the first place.  As I was just discussing this with a friend, I was reminded of Hunger Games.  It reminded me of the way Peeta and Katniss viewed their deaths.  If you’ve read the books, you know how depressing the stories are.  My friend explained that the books were set in a world with no God and no hope on purpose, to display a futuristic image of what a world without religion and hope would be like.  It’s a sad life, one with no meaning.  But our lives do have meaning. There is a God.  There is a Heaven and a Hell. God gave us life.  If we live our lives for Him, then there is no such thing as death.  Then Brittany’s story is not about death.  It is truly about life.  If we follow God’s path, if we live and die for Him, then we approach our earthly death in peace, we endure the pain and suffering, we offer it up to the Lord, knowing that a much greater life is ahead of us. It’s a time to remember how great the Lord suffered for our sins to give us this life in Heaven.

The first reading today was as follows:

Reading 1EPH 6:10-20

Brothers and sisters:
Draw your strength from the Lord and from his mighty power.
Put on the armor of God so that you may be able to stand firm
against the tactics of the Devil.
For our struggle is not with flesh and blood
but with the principalities, with the powers,
with the world rulers of this present darkness,
with the evil spirits in the heavens.
Therefore, put on the armor of God,
that you may be able to resist on the evil day
and, having done everything, to hold your ground.
So stand fast with your loins girded in truth,
clothed with righteousness as a breastplate,
and your feet shod in readiness for the Gospel of peace.
In all circumstances, hold faith as a shield,
to quench all the flaming arrows of the Evil One.
And take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit,
which is the word of God.With all prayer and supplication,
pray at every opportunity in the Spirit.
To that end, be watchful with all perseverance and supplication
for all the holy ones and also for me,
that speech may be given me to open my mouth,
to make known with boldness the mystery of the Gospel
for which I am an ambassador in chains,
so that I may have the courage to speak as I must.

Can you believe how perfect the Word is? God is our shield. Persevere through prayer.  Put on your armor of God so that you can resist the temptations of the devil! Our struggle is not with flesh and blood! These words are affirmation for both of the situations I’m talking about in this post. Amazing, isn’t it?
I’m going to end with that, as well as with a prayer for the mother of Nancy and for Brittany Maynard.  I pray that they both find the meaning to life, that they fully understand why God gave us this life, that they accept God’s love and mercy. I pray that the mother finds healing one day in her grief and in her struggle.  I pray that Brittany is healed of her brain cancer in this life.  I pray that if it is your will, Lord, you give her a chance to change in this life.  Help her to not be afraid of death, help her to realize that death is not to be a decision that we make.  Help her to give her life to you, to place it in your hands.  Help us all to do just that.  Help us all to appreciate you to our fullness, to love you to our fullness, and to work hard to be better every day to live out your will for our lives. Amen.

What a Life!


Have you ever been so happy that you are almost scared because you know that it all could be taken away in an instant? It’s a very great blessing to feel this way. I know there are many people who have never felt that happy, and sadly may never feel it. 

In my recent past, I’ve spent many nights laying in bed wondering what I’ve ever done to deserve the life God’s given me. Lord, I’ve made so many bad choices that have hurt You much more than they’ve hurt me or anyone else, yet You have always provided me with way more than what I need. You gave me the most amazing husband who has no idea how incredible he is and has held my hand, pulling me along the glorious and narrow path to You. I’m a completely different person than I was before I met him, and I couldn’t be more thankful and joyful due to these changes. Then, you blessed our lives with Edith…there are no words. Ryan and I cannot imagine our lives without her. We reflect on the days leading up to our marriage and the short time after the wedding when we would tell people, “We probably won’t have a kid for a couple of years so I can get through the sonography program and we can save up a little more.” We had our own plan. Well, guess what? God had a way better one. When we have kids and when we don’t should never be our own plan… God’s the one that decides when His creations will be entering into this world, not us. God granted us with the wisdom to understand that now, and man, are we gracious for it. We are so excited to be fully and completely open to life. We are ready for another baby as soon as God wants us to have one.

We’ve learned that this decision to give our lives to God makes Him incredibly pleased. Besides the facts that God is beyond merciful and also gracefully generous, I believe that He blesses my family and I so much because He knows that we are seeing these blessings. We tell Him so, not near enough of course (we still have a very long way to go), but we thank Him for our lives and the blessings that surround them. Because we love God, we all have to give Him the only feasible thing we have to give and that is ourselves. Our entire being. We must “deny [ourselves] and take up [our] cross.” That means there is no more me, there is just God. My wants should only be God’s wants. It’s extremely hard to do this. It’s really, really hard to fight the temptations of the devil. It’s difficult and it takes a whole lot of courage to follow our Lord, but when we do it, God makes it worth it. He blesses us, he fills us with joy. When I’m not listening to God, I find myself to be very unhappy for a number of reasons, but the underlying reason for my unhappiness is because I disobeyed my Father. Deep down I am sorry because I know that I failed and hurt the One that I love and the One that loves me more than anyone in this world could ever love me. Because I don’t want to feel this way and because I love God and want to be with Him in Heaven, I try to deny myself every day and take up that cross. 

For anyone who has yet to feel the happiness and joy that comes from following Jesus, I send out some prayers, that you will find the courage to take up your cross and love God. Please pray for me too, people! 

P.S. Also say a prayer for my godson, Oliver, who is on his way into this world right now, as well as for my sister in law, Stephanie, and my brother, Brian!

Edith @ 15


With my daughter being the absolute blast that she is, as well as moving past the 15-month mark, it’s time I document some of my favorite things she is doing lately. This could take awhile.

Here goes:

  • The excitement on her face when she sees you after she wakes up
  • Her dance moves: the arm sway, the body rock, the fast feet
  • Her face when she hears the garage door opening, realizing Dada’s home
  • Her “ooo” face when she drops her cup or food or whatever to the floor(usually on purpose)
  • Her waddle of a walk
  • When you say “I’m gonna getchu,” she starts running toward you with a huge bear hug
  • Her crazy excitement if you mention Frozen, play the songs, or say “You wanna build a snowman?”
  • Her crazy excitement when you allow her to have fruit snacks or cheese puffs
  • The way she takes your hand and leads you to wherever she wants to go, usually outside or to read a book

             Note: Yesterday I told her “Mommy needs to go pee on the potty” and she actually took my hand and lead me to the bathroom. Adorable.

  • Her full-time job of removing objects from their places and putting them in random places around the house
  • When she sits in your lap and you notice how tiny her feet and legs are, but how much bigger she is than she used to be
  • Her prayer hands and her own version of the sign of the cross
  • Anytime you take her shoes off, she has to stick her feet in your face so you’ll sniff them and over-exaggerate about her stinky and smelly feet, followed with her cackle
  • Her cackle of a laugh, in general
  • Her gentleness and lovingness, always giving those sweet kisses
  • Her hugs are the best, she wraps those little arms around your neck so tight
  • Her fuzzy blonde hair that rats up after sleep or sitting in the carseat
  • Her hyperness at bedtime and her happiness when Dada reads about a Saint, she always has to get real close and rests her head on his chest
  • Her love for other kids and babies
  • Her restlessness and rascalness at mass and our difficulty to be stern with such an insanely cute child
  • Her love of dogs, her baby doll, Lonnie dog, the blue car, and being outdoors
  • The way she picks up on skills and understands things so quickly like the itsy bitsy spider and baby signs(more, eat, thank you)
  • The way she reaches for you with this adorable face, she puts her arms real close together and does the “gimme” sign with her hands
  • Her love for swinging and says “whooooa” the whole time

There are at least a million more, and I’m sure I will update as I think of them. We just don’t want to forget her personality at each stage. Too much fun to not remember.

Posting and Momming Are Hard to Do!


So, yes, it’s been quite some time since I posted. Turns out my priorities do not include blog posting at the top of the list, and for that I am thankful! God has blessed me with many other things to be busy with, and when all of that is pushed aside, I get to spend time with my Lord and my family. 

But here is what I think of that (as my daughter is making silly noises and climbing up and down the futon this very moment… she is so amazing and for this reason, this post will be a QUICK one), I do not in any way spend enough time with my Lord and my family. In fact, I think it is impossible to do. The saddening thing is that I don’t make an effort to spend more time with the God who created me. Why do I do that? Why do I fill my day with a lot of things that won’t matter at the end of the day instead of living every. single. moment of it with God, with His beloved Son, and His Holy Spirit? It’s just plain stupid, especially when He wants to spend this time with me. Little, insignificant me.

(Pause for a moment while I feed my daughter her breakfast.)

The thing is, I can do all the tasks I need to do and spend time with God. That is how He designed our lives to be, after all. If we are performing every act according to God’s will, then every act will be working toward His will and His will for others. Amazing. It’s amazing how He so perfectly designed all of our lives, and intertwining with millions of others.’ 

So, what do I need to do this morning in order to give my day in all its entirety to Him? Well, for starters I can wake up and tell God just that. I must start every day in prayer, telling our Lord that I give myself to Him today and all His works for I am His. But I can’t stop praying there. It is difficult to do, and it will take a lotttt of hard work and patience, but it is possible to live the entire day in prayer. This is what you and I should strive for. In everything we do, we should be talking to Christ. How else can we know that we are doing just what He wants us to do?

I’ve always had a relationship with Christ, and I’ve had times where I’ve felt close and times where I’ve been far from Him (by my own decisions, of course), but I realized just how close you can become with our Lord after I started reading about the Saints. There is a book of meditations put together of St. Faustina’s, and once you read just a few of them, you will understand what I mean. I don’t know how close you all are to Jesus Christ, but I’m guessing many of you might feel similar to the way I felt reading St. Faustina’s diaries. After reading some of the diaries, I thought, “Wow. She must be really close to God to have these conversations with HIm. I have a looong way to go if I truly want to be a saint myself.” It was good I read them, though, because now I see a glimpse of just how close you can become to God in this life. His love is infinite, and we can never run out of love for Christ, just as He never runs out of love for each and every one of us. It is a beautiful gift, and He gives it to us freely. 

For this reason and at least a billion others, I encourage myself and all of you to start your day in prayer, saying to God, “Lord, I give my heart, body, and soul to you, as well as this day. I am yours. Please use me as a tool to bring your children home to you. Thank you for your unending love and mercy.” Amen.

P.S.The link to St. Faustina’s book is here: